[UPDATE 2020: Kolache Republic has closed this space and moved a few doors north into The Daily Growler. Read about the new location and updated menu here!]
Kolache Republic | Facebook | T: @kolacherepublic | IG: @kolacherepublic
730 S. High St. (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43206
Open Mon-Fri, 7a-2p; Sat, 8a-3p
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/N
We’ve been fans of Kolache Republic since they opened in the summer of 2013, and our love for their Czech-style pastries has only deepened as I’ve taken my breakfast tours there. I first wrote about them the summer they opened, and I’ve made so many return trips that I figured it was worth an update.
Their cafe sits on the western edge of German Village on South High Street, so they’re easily accessible from downtown, the Brewery District, the village, the south side, etc. They have a small collection of tables and counter seats inside, with a couple tables out front on nicer days.
What is a kolache? It’s an Eastern European pastry that varies from country to country. There are Polish and Hungarian versions that look more like a nut roll, while Kolache Republic serves the Czech version: a slightly sweetened yeast dough that’s cut into squares and filled with fruits, nuts, cream cheese, you name it.
Elsewhere in Ohio, especially northeast Ohio, have deeper Eastern European roots, so you’re more likely to find kolache varieties there. But Columbus has more German roots, so Kolache Republic is unique amongst the city’s bakeries.
Other portions of the country, most notably Texas, have sizable Czech populations, so kolaches are more of a mainstay. Rick, one of the three Kolache Republic owners, hails from outside Houston; the recipe they use is from his sister-in-law’s bakery. In parts of Texas, they said, kolaches are more prevalent – to the point that every gas station carries shelves of kolaches in place of donuts!
The light and puffy dough is flexible enough to accommodate almost any flavor. You’ll always find the sweet cheese kolaches, but part of the fun is seeing the flavors rotate from week to week, including seasonal tastes like bourbon pecan or apple pie or pumpkin spice in the fall, thin mint for St. Patrick’s Day, etc.
The sweet kolaches are proofed and made into squares, two dozen to a tray, and then the fillings are scooped into them and they’re baked.
And believe me when I say the sweets are a great alternative if you’re bringing treats to the office.
Just don’t forget the savory flavors. For the savory kolaches they take the same dough, roll it out, scoop in different fillings, then wrap them up and bake them. They end up as these delicious, compact sandwiches. Their standard flavors include kielbasa (from Falter’s Fine Meats nearby) or kielbasa and jalapeno, as well as the bierock, filled with ground beef and sauerkraut.
I love the standards, but again, you should keep an eye on social media to follow the weekly specials. I’ve seen everything from reubens to sloppy joes to Asian pork bun to jambalaya. They don’t slouch with sides, too, from the baked beans to the soups to the potato salad. They feature some terrific sauces, including a three-pepper jam that brings some serious heat.
In the breakfast realm, they serve sausage/egg/cheese as well as hash brown/egg/cheese kolaches every day, and on weekends they add breakfast kolaches with bacon and chorizo + jalapeno (one of my personal favorite breakfasts in Columbus). They’re so simple but so nicely constructed.
A savory kolache + a sweet one + a side + a drink = a great meal.
It’s fun to watch the weekly specials roll through. I’ve scored a reuben kolache occasionally.
Around the holidays they make mini kolaches like spinach and artichoke – great for parties and catered events.
One of my personal favorites is just around the corner: the fabled Thanksgiving kolache.
It only shows up the Friday and Saturday before Thanksgiving (it’s on my calendar every year), and it’s filled with roasted turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes, then comes with sides of gravy and cranberry sauce. It’s a perfect bite on Thanksgiving in one convenient package.
If you haven’t visited Kolache Republic, get there soon and make them part of your regular rotation. They’re a hidden gem, but I don’t want them to stay too hidden.