It really doesn’t matter how much I’ve eaten that morning, how tired I am, or how many miles there are left to drive: it’s impossible to drive past Exit 353 on I-35 without getting hungry–because that’s where the rightfully famous kolaches of West, Texas are.
The tiny town of West, Texas (not to be confused with the region of West Texas) is much better known than its size (population: 2800) or short list of tourist attractions would lead an outsider to believe.
Texans, though, know that the town’s rich Czech heritage–West is the Czech Heritage Capital of Texas–has made it into the home of some of the absolute best kolaches and klobasniky in the state, and a can’t-miss road trip stop for generations.
If you’re new to central Texas’ I-35 corridor–or even if you’re not–here’s what to know about the kolaches of West, Texas.
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A Brief History of West, Texas
The first European settlers arrived in the area now known as West in the 1840s, kicking off the beginning of a rural farming community.
However, the town of West, TX as we know it today initially started exploding in the 1880s with the introduction of the Katy Railroad line that ran from Hillsboro to Waco.
The line passed through land belonging to a man named Thomas West–hence the name of the town–and after the railroad arrived, a post office, collection of businesses, and many German and Czech immigrants quickly followed.
Within a few decades, Czech culture was the dominant culture in West, the influence of which can still be clearly felt today.
Kolache vs Klobasnek
Around Texas, you’ll often find sweet kolaches and sausage kolaches being advertised.
Ask the Czech communities in the state, though, and you’ll quickly be told that a “sausage kolache” is actually a “klobasnek”, or in the plural, “klobasniky”.
Klobasniky are traditionally made with kolache dough that is wrapped around a bit of sausage.
Today, you’ll find plenty of more inventive stuffings, including brisket. Sausage remains wildly popular, though!
This interesting article does a great job exploring the difference between kolaches and klobasniky.
Klobasniky, at least in the form we enjoy them in today, are considered to have been invented at the Village Bakery in West, Texas in the 1950s.
And, in my biased opinion, there are few foods on the planet that can compete with the Texas delicacy that is a well-made sausage-cheese-jalapeño klobasnek.
The Best West, Texas Kolache Bakeries
Wondering where to stop for kolaches in West, TX?
You truly cannot go wrong with the bakeries outlined here!
We love all of them and will continue visiting each and every one of these West kolache shops in the future.
For sheer ease of travel, Slovacek’s is easiest to access when heading south on 35 and Czech Stop and Gerick’s are easiest to access when headed north, but it’s not enough of a difference to dramatically shake up your day.
It’s also worth noting that Gerick’s does not have an on-site gas station, while Slovacek’s and the Czech Stop both do.
The Czech Stop + Little Czech Bakery
Without a doubt, the Czech Stop/Little Czech Bakery (same bakery, same location) serve up the most famous kolaches in West, Texas, and this bakery is an essential stop on the Texas kolache trail.
Of all the West kolache bakeries, this is where you’re most likely to find a line and a crowd, but it’s worth the wait to experience this Texas staple for yourself.
It’s hard to choose between a sweet kolache and a savory klobasnek here, but the cherry and cream cheese kolaches here are nearly impossible to resist.
Their pies, cookies, and breads are also wonderful, and worth grabbing to take home.
Address: 104 S George Kacir Dr, West, TX 76691
Open in West since 2013, it might be easy to assume that Slovacek’s is a new business–but that’s not the case.
Founded in 1957 as Slovacek Sausage Company in Snook, Texas (about 14 miles southwest of College Station), Slovacek’s has a long history of serving delicious food to Texans.
In breadth alone, Slovacek’s is by far the physically biggest of the West kolache shops.
In addition to kolaches, they feature a sausage shop, garden department, meat market, deli, cafe, and dog park, all on-site–plus gas, of course.
They have some genuinely excellent Texas souvenirs, too.
The kolaches and klobasniky are excellent, featuring classic flavors as well as new-fangled ones (their brisket klobasnek is delicious).
Address: 214 Melodie Dr, West, TX 76691
Gerick’s Ole Czech Bakery
As the furthest kolache bakery from I-35 of the “main” kolache shops in West, TX (by which I mean it’s a whole block or so from I-35), paying a visit to Gerick’s Ole Czech Bakery feels like stepping off the admittedly wonderful tourist trail in West into an enclave of small-town Texas.
Housed in a combined pizza shop/kolache bakery, Gerick’s sells all the traditional favorites, as well as additional treats like Kaden wheels, strudels, and some of the best cookie-and-icing sandwiches I’ve ever eaten.
Their klobasniky are enormous–twice the size of some that we’ve had!
If you want to avoid the crowds, get a taste of West beyond the highway (you’ll literally be within sight of the small downtown when you arrive at Gerick’s), and enjoy some excellent kolaches, you can’t go wrong with Gerick’s.
Address: 511 W Oak St, West, TX 76691
In Memoriam: The Village Bakery
The original kolaches in West, Texas could be found at the wildly popular Village Bakery, which opened in 1952.
Sadly, the proprietor, Mimi Montogomery Irwin, passed away in early 2019 and this iconic West kolache shop has not been open since.
Address: 113 E Oak St, West, TX 76691
Beyond Kolaches in West, Texas
While there’s absolutely no denying that kolaches and klobasniky are the biggest attraction pulling visitors off of I-35 and into West, there is a bit more to see!
Every Labor Day weekend, you can attend Westfest, which honors the area’s Czech heritage through music, games, food, and more, while raising funds for the community.
You’ll also find a handful of shops to peruse in the tiny downtown, several with obvious Czech heritage.