One fake-Bavarian town. Three different pretzels. Five dollars each (including cheese sauce, except at Rhein Haus). Where should you spend your dough on dough in Leavenworth?
Icicle Brewing Company
If coating a pretzel in melted butter is wrong, the pretzel at Icicle Brewing Company doesn’t want to be right. It’s a big, glossy one, nicely medium-browned and properly medium-salted; ours had a split in its, um, lower pretzel-lip, giving it a friendly aspect. The Beecher’s cheese sauce tastes like good macaroni and cheese, meaning you could dip almost anything into it with excellent results. But although Icicle imports these from an actual Bavarian company (frozen, baking them on-site), any distinctive pretzelness is absent; it’s more like eating a pretzel-shaped bun. But a pretzel-shaped bun covered in butter! (935 Front St., Leavenworth; 509-548-BREW; iciclebrewing.com)
The Danish Bakery
The Danish Bakery’s pretzel is served cold — it almost seemed chilled, which is a sad thing in a pretzel. Ours was large, but so pale, it looked like something had just scared the hell out of it. The cheese goo, in contrast, radiated a vivid artificial orange and tasted that way, too. A very, very heavy salting (even for avowed salt fans) was only the surface-level problem; when chewed, the pretzel squished down from an initial unpleasant sponginess to a mealy paste. You don’t want to eat this. (731 Front St., Leavenworth; 509-548-7514)
Beer-cheese fondue at Rhein Haus costs $1 extra and doesn’t taste as fancy as it sounds, making us wish we’d gone for the obatzda, a Bavarian cheese-butter-beer-paprika mix that’s probably unholy-good. The pretzel itself is smaller-sized but pleasingly plump, a beautiful deep brown and just-right salted; it also tastes richly of its oven burnish, with a puffy interior. This pretzel beats the lederhosen off the other two, and you can also get a giant version for $15 — you’re on a ridiculous holiday, so why not? (707 Highway 2, Leavenworth; 509-888-1568, rhleavenworth.com)