Drivers traveling between Dallas and Austin on Interstate 35 don't have to rely on fast food. Instead they can conveniently stop in West, Texas to gorge themselves on the best kolaches in the state. The small town, located in Central Texas just outside Waco, still exhibits a heavy Czech influence due to immigration there in the 1890's.
Czech Stop is the first kolache spot drivers see as they exit the highway. The combination bakery, rest stop, and gas station is open 24/7, but the line snakes out the door on a Sunday afternoon. The interior is filled with anxious Texans unaccustomed to crowds and a glass case overflowing with baked goods. The staff works efficiently to move the line along, waiting on customers or retrieving trays heaving with freshly baked kolaches.
Don't be tempted by shelves brimming with sauerkraut, cinnamon swirl bread, or pecan brittle—focus on your kolache order. You can choose from peach, prune, apricot, pineapple, plum, pumpkin and cream cheese, and the omnipresent jalapeno and sausage, just to name a few. The raspberry and cream cheese kolache was a perfect little pillow cradling pools of sweet filling that slid down my throat all too easily. But the sauerkraut, sausage, and Swiss cheese kolasnik blew my mind: a fluffy sweet roll, soft but not falling apart, stuffed with real kielbasa, tangy sauerkraut, and melted cheese. It was the only savory kolache that truly impressed me, even though I tried over 15 back in Austin.
Unfortunately we were only two overwhelmed people without enough room in our stomachs to check out the other bakeries in town. I can't wait to go back to West and try some new places. Next time I'll prepare by not eating for days in advance. Have you been to West? Which bakery is your favorite?