When Eric Liu went to stay with his family in Houston at the start of the pandemic in March 2020, he rekindled his love for kolaches. In the 19th century, Czech settlers brought these sweet, fluffy pastries to Texas, where they’ve taken on a life of their own. “Kolaches are in every coffee shop and gas station in Houston,” Liu says. “I thought, Why don’t we have these in Chicago?” Liu teamed up with Tom Bovio, a fellow food industry alum, to launch Howdy Kolache in January. They’re selling their kolaches, which include the Desayuno (chorizo, egg, and Chihuahua cheese) and the Ron Swanson (bacon, egg, and jalapeño), at coffee shops like Portage Grounds and Back of the Yards Coffee. In Texas, sausage is the most common filling, and it’s the inspiration for a distinctly Chicago kolache Liu wants to make: “We’ve done Italian beef with giardiniera, and I want to do a Chicago hot dog one, too.” $4.50. howdykolache.com