It’s understandable if you’ve never heard of a kolache before. We’d never seen them before we started visiting Texas and the first ones we tried were from the local Buc-ee’s.
Originally, the kolache was a Czech pastry typically with a fruit filling. Every Eastern European country has a take on this with variations of the dough and fillings. The kolache was brought to Texas by Czech immigrants in the late 1800s. That’s how a small town in Texas called West has become the kolache capital of Texas.
Located on I-35 just north of Waco, West, TX has several establishments dishing out classic fruit kolaches alongside the Texasified meat-filled varieties. Here’s a good article about West and how it became known for kolaches.
We’d never heard about the town before one of our friends in Dallas said we had to stop if we were driving to Austin. When we said we had kolaches before, she said if they weren’t from West, then we didn’t really have kolaches.
How could we not stop to check it out? Check. Czech. Get it? OK, enough with the dad jokes.
First of all, we weren’t sure we found the right place as it looked like we were going to a gas station. However, how many gas stations have an auxiliary parking lot next door?
The Czech Stop/Little Czech Bakery are two stores that sell the same items. They’re so busy that they need two storefronts.
Walking into the store, it looked like most other interstate gas stations. There were coolers along the walls and aisles of sundries and snacks.
However, lining the walls were autographed pictures of every famous (or semi-famous) person who stopped by. The line wound from the counter around the back wall. We definitely found the right place. The coolers around the store didn’t sell the usual gas station items, instead, they were selling local meats and sausages. It reminded me more of the Polish butcher from my hometown instead of a gas station.
When we got to the counter, we saw the many varieties of kolaches for sale.
In addition to the pastries, they also sold a large assortment of pre-made sandwiches.
I tried the sausage/sauerkraut kolache, which was a mix of Texas variety while sticking to Czech ingredients.
I also tried one of the poppy seed kolaches, which is a very classic filling (and one I remember from the pastries of my childhood.) Sorry, no pictures of that one as I ate it before remembering to capture it for posterity.
Sharon went for the Nutella-filled version, which she enjoyed. To be honest, is there anything bad if it’s filled with Nutella?
While we went to The Czech Stop, which seems to be very popular with the locals passing through town, there are other locations besides the interstate, as well as in the town. We didn’t try them all as I doubt we’d be able to distinguish the difference from one to another.
While it was difficult to admit, the kolaches we got in West, TX are better than the ones from Buc-ee’s. But since we’re not going to drive 2 hours from Austin, we’ll have to make do with those until we’re back in the area.
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