Try 5: Five places to find sweet or savory kolaches in metro Atlanta

This bananas foster kolache is one of the varieties available from Little Rey. Courtesy of Little Rey
This bananas foster kolache is one of the varieties available from Little Rey. Courtesy of Little Rey

For purists, there’s only one kind of kolache.

That’s the kind brought to Texas by Czech immigrants, made with an enriched, slightly sweet dough, shaped into a circle, with either a sweet cheese or fruit filling in the middle.

Kate Williams described them in a 2018 Atlanta Journal-Constitution article as a “sturdier, breadier ... and more delicious Danish.”

But, some have taken liberties with the traditional kolache, to the point where a pig-in-a-blanket-style roll — made with the same dough, and stuffed with sausage, cheese and, sometimes, jalapeno peppers — goes by the same name.

The real name for those sausage rolls is klobasnek, said Texas native Jonathan Fox, who owns Atlanta restaurant Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q with his brother, Justin. He grew up eating both the fruit-filled and meat-filled pastries, but, like many others, uses “kolache” to describe both.

Whether you like your kolaches sweet or savory, there are several local spots to get your fix.

Dough in the Box offers mini kolaches. Courtesy of Dough in the Box
Dough in the Box offers mini kolaches. Courtesy of Dough in the Box

Dough in the Box added kolaches to its menu about four years ago.

Dannia Balestena, who co-owns the bakery with her husband, Jesus, was asked to whip up “a taste of Texas” hors d’oeuvre for a wedding, and she landed on a sausage kolache, made with croissant dough.

Later, Balestena started offering the mini kolaches as a special at the bakery, and they sold so well they became a regular menu item.

By using croissant dough, Balestena said, the baked rolls stay moist, even after a few hours out of the oven. The smoked mini sausage, a pork and chicken blend, provides a shot of saltiness.

Locations in Marietta, Austell and South Fulton. doughinthebox.com/index.html

Hero Doughnuts & Buns uses its brioche dough for this sausage-stuffed kolache with jalapeño. Wendell Brock for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Hero Doughnuts & Buns uses its brioche dough for this sausage-stuffed kolache with jalapeño. Wendell Brock for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Wendell Brock

Credit: Wendell Brock

Hero Doughnuts & Buns. About a year after Hero opened its first brick-and-mortar location in Alabama, founder Wil Drake added savory kolaches to the menu.

Looking at what other doughnut shops offered, he realized that the handheld would be a perfect way to utilize the dough scraps left over from doughnuts.

The doughnut shop, which opened an Atlanta location in Summerhill in 2020, uses Alabama-made Conecuh sausage for its kolaches. Along with American cheese, the link gets wrapped inside brioche dough and baked until a golden crust forms. Looking for a kick? A spicier version uses roasted jalapenos in its center.

33 Georgia Ave. SE, Atlanta. 470-369-6800, herodoughnutsandbuns.com

Vegetarian, savory and sweet kolaches from Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q are offered at East Pole Coffee Co.  Courtesy of Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q
Vegetarian, savory and sweet kolaches from Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q are offered at East Pole Coffee Co. Courtesy of Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q

Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q. The Fox brothers tried to make kolaches catch on at the Que-osk located outside their commissary kitchen. While they weren’t the hit Jonathan Fox hoped they’d be, they’re a favorite with customers at East Pole Coffee Co., located across the street.

Fox Bros. makes three different kinds of pastries for East Pole: a fruit-filled seasonal variety that’s transitioning from peach to cream cheese with raspberries; a savory vegetarian kolache with black beans, charred corn, lime, bell pepper and cotija cheese; and a meat roll made with house-made smoked jalapeno cheddar sausage.

Sausage kolaches are one of varieties made by Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q. Courtesy of Fox Bros. Br-B-Q
Sausage kolaches are one of varieties made by Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q. Courtesy of Fox Bros. Br-B-Q

Fox might revisit offering kolaches regularly at the Que-osk again once the pandemic dies down, but, in the meantime, you can find Fox Bros.’ version at East Pole, on the Fox Bros. breakfast catering menu, and as an occasional special at their restaurant in Inman Park.

East Pole Coffee Co., 255 Ottley Drive, Atlanta.

This cherries and cheese kolache is from Little Rey. Courtesy of Little Rey
This cherries and cheese kolache is from Little Rey. Courtesy of Little Rey

Little Rey. Chrysta Poulos, creative director for pastry for Rocket Farms Restaurants, never had heard of kolaches when boss Ford Fry, a Texas native, asked her to add a traditional sweet version to the weekend pastry offerings at his Little Rey restaurant in Piedmont Heights.

Poulos realized she could use the dough she already made for the rolls at Rocket Farms restaurants JCT. Kitchen & Bar and the Optimist. The rich dough, made with butter, honey and buttermilk, has a slight sweetness, making it an ideal base for fruit fillings.

Kolache flavors change seasonally, but you usually can expect to find a sweet cheese option and two fruit flavors. Right now, a citrus kolache is about to make way for a version with berries, and, later in the summer, Poulos expects to use peaches as the star.

A bananas Foster kolache, another request from Fry, has been a big enough hit that it might remain a part of the regular rotation.

Look for Poulos’ kolaches on Saturdays and Sundays at Little Rey.

1878 Piedmont Ave. NE, Atlanta. 770-796-0207, littlerey.com

Marietta Donuts offers a couple of varieties of kolaches. Courtesy of Marietta Donuts
Marietta Donuts offers a couple of varieties of kolaches. Courtesy of Marietta Donuts

Marietta Donuts. Owners Sokcheat Heng and Sophal Chhim offer a kolache made with smoked sausage and American cheese, and baked in a “kolache mix” dough. A spicier version comes with bits of jalapeno peppers inside.

1282 Johnson Ferry Road, Marietta. 470-308-6130, facebook.com/mariettadonuts

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