100 Favorite Dishes 2013: #97 Soft Pretzel from Mongoose Versus Cobra

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This year, leading up to our annual Menu of Menus issue, Kaitlin Steinberg counts down her 100 favorite dishes as she eats her way through Houston. Just as Katharine Shilcutt did before her, and Robb Walsh before that, Kaitlin will eat and learn as she goes, compiling a list of the 100 dishes she thinks are the most awesome, most creative and, of course, most delicious in Houston. It's a list of her personal favorites, things she thinks any visitor or Houstonian ought to try at least once and dishes that seem particularly indicative of the ever-changing Houston food-scape. It's a list to drool over.

So last week I told you what to order (Chi'Lantro's bulgogi tacos) when you're not drinking. This week, I'm changing my tune a bit.

When you're knocking back a cold pint at Mongoose Vs. Cobra, you absolutely must order the soft pretzel. And this time, you should probably keep drinking too. Few things pair as well as a great soft pretzel and a pint.

Mongoose Vs. Cobra's soft pretzel is bigger than my head. In fact, it's about the size of a cat curled up to sleep. Or maybe a mongoose. The salt-covered pretzels are made by Slow Dough Bread Co., which has no storefront but supplies bread to restaurants around the city. It's not the typical dense, heavy soft pretzel with a tough skin. It's light and fluffy on the inside, and the crust is crispy and oh-so buttery.

At Mongoose, the pretzels are warmed and given a generous brushing of melted butter before being brought to the table (or bar) on a big silver tray. They're served with Revival Market's insanely good mustard and spicy pickles made in-house at Mongoose.

Again, I want to emphasize just how big these pretzels are. They can easily serve two, and I've been a member of a party of three that was unable to conquer the massive salted twist. You won't get any flack for being able to eat the entire thing on your own though. On the contrary; drunks and designated drivers alike will be impressed with your stamina.

At $6 a pop, the gargantuan baked good is a great deal. If pickles and mustard aren't enough for you, the menu lists a pretzel upgrade called the "Midnight Special" topped with cheese, chili and bacon. I, personally, have never felt the need to upgrade from the basic. When the basic pretzel is so amazing, why would you? Don't mess with perfection.

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