If you're in the market for authentic German treats, look no further than Schlegl's in Lincolnwood. Named for the Bornschlegl family, this third-generation bakery uses recipes that originated in Bavaria, baking everything daily from scratch. Delectable cupcakes, cookies and cakes tempt visitors from the cases in this quaint storefront that seems slightly out of place on the traffic-heavy Touhy Avenue.
Of its many specialties, Schlegl's may be best known for its German pretzels. Even if you've never been to the bakery, you may have had the pretzels at the annual Mayfest in Lincoln Square. Varieties include cheese, pizza and onion pretzels, pretzel rolls, pretzel sticks (the perfect size for brats), and unsalted pretzel dinner rolls. But you can't go wrong with the original soft pretzel, warmed in the oven and dipped in spicy mustard or eaten plain. Pretzels are $1.25 apiece or three for $2.20 if ordered in advance.
Another popular item is the Bienenstich — also called the Bee Sting — a sweet yellow pastry dough filled with cream and topped with honey-toasted almonds. This specialty cake is available for walk-ins on Fridays and Saturdays; otherwise it requires 48 hours notice. Either way, it's a steal at $8.95. Also available are a range of cookies, from almond crescents to baseball-shaped cookies supporting your favorite Chicago team. Cookies run $13.95 per pound; for small varieties that means 25 to 30 cookies. And it isn't a German bakery without a wide selection of chocolate, including fudge brownies and slices of chocolate mousse and black forest cake ($2.95 per slice).
Schlegl's also bakes custom cakes for weddings, birthdays and special occasions. Disney characters, tiaras and other cake toppers are displayed in the front alongside photos of recently purchased cakes. Coffee, cappuccino and tea are also available.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Erica Walkup