At Koala Kolache, Krazy Lady Vatsie offers up flavors like elote, sausage gravy and mac ‘n’ cheese.

Image: Jenn Duncan

We can thank Czech settlers of the 1800s for one of the Lone Star State’s most beloved pastries: the kolache. With a name deriving from the Old Slavic word kolo, meaning “circle” or “wheel,” these round, fruit-and-sweet-cheese-filled treats can be found in every pocket of Houston. And while their sausage-stuffed cousins are technically called klobásníky, everyone we know refers to them as kolaches, too. Suddenly got a craving? We’ve got you covered. 

The Original Kolache Shoppe

You’ll find vintage treats at this diamond in the rough, where the dough is pillowy, yeasty, slightly sweet, and packed with classic fruit fillings (we love raspberry) before getting a sprinkling of the shop’s signature buttery crumb topping. The sausage, cheese, and jalapeño version has its fervent fans, too, because when in Texas…

Olde Towne Kolaches

The plump kolaches at this quaint, old-timey stop taste just like your babička’s. Made with an authentic, Czech-style pastry dough, these fresh-baked treats come fully loaded, whether with jammy apricot, blueberry, poppy seed, or sweet cheese. On the savory side, tasty options include egg, hot sausage, and chicken fajita.

Kolache Bar

This haunt has a growing list of devotees, thanks in part to “The Bomber,” a delightful, highly addictive kolache stuffed with breakfast sausage, gravy, bacon, and jalapeño. Try one, but don’t forget the boudin, chicken enchilada, Philly cheesesteak, or spicy brisket.

Koala Kolache

Go outside the kolache box with the fanciful, locally inspired creations at this shop. The owner, who goes by Krazy Lady Vatsie, pushes the limits with flavors like elote, sausage gravy, smoked brisket, and mac ‘n’ cheese. Order a few Cinnamon Toast Crunch doughnuts and raspberry cinnamon rolls, too, and your life will be complete.

Kolache Shoppe

This Houston mainstay offers grandma-style, sweetened-yeast numbers loaded with not-so-grandma-style fillings (although fear not, traditionalists, you can get your fruit-and-cheese varieties, too). Crack one of these babies open to unveil a beautiful mess of flavor. Our favorite is the bacon, egg, cheese, and salsa version; other popular ingredients include kielbasa, local brisket, cottage cheese, and Nutella.

Karma Kolaches & Dessert

With four locations north and west of the Inner Loop, Karma’s a must-visit if only to try some of its more outrageous creations. Look for its Philly cheesesteak and peperoni pizza kolaches, or if you’re a vegetarian, macaroni and cheese and cheese, egg, and grits. Karma also sells donuts, cronuts (croissant donuts), and breakfast sandwiches, so hop into the car and make a trip one of these days.

Koffeteria

This EaDo hang from former Tiny Boxwoods pastry chef Vanarin Kuch is more of a hip cafe with fun coffee drinks and wild pastries like his famous Hot Cheeto croissant. Still, he loves showcasing unique riffs on the traditional Texas breakfast treat, his most popular being a beef pho kolache where the salty, juicy shredded beef explodes out with your first bite. For a childhood throwback, Kuch also makes a kolache filled with tomato and basil puree and melted American cheese … grilled cheese and tomato soup, anyone?

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