100 Favorite Dishes 2012: No. 83, Pretzel at Anvil Bar & Refuge

Anvil Pretzel 002.jpg
Photo by Katharine Shilcutt
This year leading up to our annual Best of Houston® issue, we're counting down our 100 favorite dishes in Houston. This list comprises our favorite dishes from the last year, dishes that are essential to Houston's cultural landscape and/or dishes that any visitor (or resident) should try at least once.

Anvil Bar & Refuge, by all rights, doesn't have to offer food at all. It's a cocktail bar first and foremost -- and cocktails, unlike beer, aren't a beverage that demands nibbling food in easy reach like packets of crisps or pickled eggs in a questionable, dust-covered jar next to the register.

But because it's Anvil -- and because owner Bobby Heugel does nothing by halves -- the bar does offer a small selection of fare designed to pair neatly with the cocktails, beers and two wines it serves, because Anvil wants to make you happy. It really does. And that includes offering treats like the German-style pretzel served with a boozy queso dip on the side.

The pretzel's allure is in its stretchy, doughy simplicity, in the small scatter of crunchy salt across the top and in its ability to match nearly anything thrown its way. I recently asked bartender Chris Frankel to make me a cocktail to go with the hot, yeasty pretzel and he quickly complied (where else could you do this?), serving me a drink developed by fellow barman Hal Brock: The Trotter.

Brock employed his Carolina roots to make a "shrub" (an acid-heavy juice made from fruit, sugar and sometimes vinegar) based on Carolina-style barbecue sauce that's heavy with red pepper and vinegar. The result is an incredibly well-balanced cocktail that has the kick of a good East Coast barbecue sauce, offset by the sweetness of pineapple juice, the brightness of lemon juice and the buttery notes of bourbon.

Plus, it goes great with a pretzel.

The list so far:

No. 100: Chili cheese mac at Jus' Mac
No. 99: Texas turkey sandwich at Spec's
No. 98: Custard at Petite Sweets
No. 97: Caprichos mixtos at Taqueria Monterrey Chiquito
No. 96: Pineapple-wasabi burger at Lankford Grocery
No. 95: Farmer's MKT Pizza at Phoenicia's MKT Bar
No. 94: Potatoes at Money Cat Brunch
No. 93: Breakfast tacos at Sunrise Taquito
No. 92: Hot dog at Tacos D.F.
No. 91: Avocado gelato at Frozen Cafe
No. 90: Chicken sandwich at JerryBuilt Homegrown Burgers
No. 89: Beer-battered asparagus at Hearsay
No. 88: Honey Badger omelet at Kraftsmen Cafe
No. 87: Pastelitos de carne at El Jalapeño
No. 86: Pancakes at Union Kitchen
No. 85: Wild boar and crab pizza at Boheme
No. 84: Breakfast croissant at BB Donuts



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Anvil Bar & Refuge

1424 Westheimer, Houston, TX

Category: Music

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5 comments
Eminence Grise
Eminence Grise

I like Anvil better than Bar Munich - I was just mentioning that the pretzels are available there as well.  I suppose they are also available at other places too but that doesn't make it a good pretzel.

SirRon
SirRon

(Note to Shilcutt) Please try to include some sort of tuna roll in your top 100. I read on the interwebs that Kroger's are just as good. Just trolling.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

I happen to really like Slow Dough pretzels.  :)  And I also like the drinks and overall atmosphere at Anvil far better than that at Bar Munich.

Eminence Grise
Eminence Grise

You have got to be fucking kidding me! It's a Slow Dough pretzel - they also have them at Bar Munich..  They are nothing like a pretzel - American or German.  It's as if someone described a pretzel to the bakers, who had never held or tasted a pretzel but decided, what the hay how hard can this be....  The frozen ones at HEB are better than these pretzels.

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