Kolache Shoppe in Houston, Texas

When it comes to essential American regional breakfast dishes, Texan kolaches could give New York bagels a run for their money. Much like bagels, kolaches arrived in the United States via European immigration. A pastry originally of Czech origin, Texan kolaches feature a pillowy dough and fillings both sweet, like apricot or cream cheese, and savory—featuring sausage and jalapeño kielbasa. 

It’s worth noting that the original Czech kolaches were almost exclusively sweet, and savory varieties were actually called klobasniky. Following the large-scale Czech immigration to Texas in the mid-1800s, the two words eventually merged into one catch-all dish. And it was here in Texas that modern kolaches evolved into their current iterations, introducing more regional flavors like egg and cheese or smoked brisket. 

Established in 1970 by Erwin Ahrens, Kolache Shoppe has long been a standard-bearer for freshly baked kolaches, using a sweet yeast dough recipe allegedly sourced from local “Czech grandmothers.” The current owners, Lucy and Randy Hines, took over in 2014, expanding a franchise business to four locations in Houston (as well as one in Celina, near Dallas) over the last decade. 

Menus vary slightly across locations, featuring classic sweet fillings like apricot, poppy seed, and cream cheese as well as hearty savory options including ranchero, jalapeño kielbasa, and venison and cheese. Nodding to the ever-evolving nature of the kolache (and of Houston), the founding location on Richmond Avenue also touts a special char siu bao variety created in collaboration with the owners of the Vietnamese sandwich shop Roostar.

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