The Changing Face of Comfort, Texas
In a bright room filled with local goods to buy and good things to eat, it’s a sunny Saturday afternoon at High’s Cafe & Store in the Hill Country town of Comfort. Even though most of the lunch crowd has left, a number of happy locals and visitors still linger, enjoying cold Dublin, Texas-made colas, fresh salads and healthful sandwiches. Warm and inviting, like the community it calls home, High’s is just one must-make stop for those on a weekend road trip to this delightful small Texas town.
Comfort: Even the community’s name is inviting. Just 15 miles from Boerne, it is an enchanting place. Set amid the bucolic beauty of Kendall County, where I-10 and US Hwy 87 intersect, just 32 miles from La Cantera, Comfort is a close, friendly neighbor to the Alamo City. Although the town covers only about 3.5 square miles, its well preserved historic center along High Street, with attractive limestone buildings dating back to the 1850s, is packed with shops, restaurants, art galleries, taverns and more, making it seem like a sweet mini-Fredericksburg. High Street, between 7th and 8th Streets, is where you’ll find most of the downtown boutiques and restaurants, but beyond that strip there are more shops and businesses, as well as picturesque areas outside town, with creeks, riverbeds, ranches, parks, vineyards and more.
For decades Comfort has been mainly known for its many antique stores, but the town offers contemporary pleasures too, like wineries with sunny tasting rooms, shady outdoor arbors, friendly little venues with live music, bistros with fine dining, pretty parks and recreation opportunities and lodgings that even the most discriminating traveler will appreciate. There’s even a local distillery nearby, along with small cafes tucked away in the hills off quiet country roads.
Comfort was founded by a group of German settlers called “Freethinkers” who immigrated to Texas between 1845 and 1860, seeking freedom from the political and religious tyranny of dictatorial monarchies and clerics during a time when revolution was springing up in Germany. An estimated 1,000 Freethinkers settled throughout the Hill Country, and according to historian Edwin E. Scharf, many of these settlers were respected nobles, philosophers, scientists, physicians and engineers who were not only educated but affluent; when they immigrated to Texas, they brought books, linens, china, paintings, and musical instruments—as well as a sense of culture and refinement. “Higher ideals, classics and cultural affairs were studied, discussed and debated, and their children early on were schooled in these areas,” explains Scharf. Today, a friendly, tolerant, open-minded attitude still prevails in Comfort, making it an inviting place to visit or live.
In a town this small (pop. 2,363), you might not think there’s much to do, but Comfort offers more than one might expect. Spend a weekend there, and get to know the new face of Comfort, a community that is at once contemporary and welcoming while still steeped in rich history. Meet friendly merchants at Christi’s, Huckleberry’s, The Loom Room… to name a few.
Here are six ways to get into your own weekend Comfort Zone…
1. Check into Hotel Faust (717 High St.)
This clean, classic modern boutique High Street hotel may be more than 130 years old, but it’s not some musty old-fashioned B&B with lace doilies and floral bedspreads. Polished, fresh, clean and contemporary, with fine bedding, simple furnishings, soothing colors and (on weekends) a full homemade breakfast, it’s also centrally located on Comfort’s main downtown street. Behind the hotel’s main building, just off the courtyard with its gazebo, the original Carriage House holds both the Altgelt Suite and the Karger Suite. Or stay in the Ingenhuett Log Cabin, a romantic reconstructed 1820s Kentucky log cabin suite. With a small front porch, gingerbread trim and a spacious suite with a separate bedroom for the kids, the Gorman Cottage is another special stand-alone structure on the grounds.
2. Enjoy Comfort foods
The 814 A Texas Bistro (713 High St.) is housed in a building that was once the town’s old post office (814 was its original address). This remarkable little restaurant offers a casual yet superior menu with juicy steaks, fresh seafood, ginger-glazed Bandera quail, mussels, lamb chops and other delights. The atmosphere is comfortably unpretentious, but the kitchen boasts farm-to-table fine dining.
Want an even more casual meal? Why not eat outside and let the kids run around? Try a fabulous handmade wood-fired pizza at Comfort Pizza, where you can also find ice cream and can rent bicycles. Crave a sandwich, soup or salad? Try the wholesome delights of the High Street Cafe. (726 High St.).
After your meal, you may still want something sweet, so stop by this darling shop across from Comfort Pizza. Surrounded by a glorious garden, Miss Giddy’s (817 High St.) offers fun retail finds, like clever kitchen gadgets, attractive home decor items, fun fashion accessories, handy gardening items and other goodies, and, of course, it always has good pie, tea, coffee, water and sodas on hand.
3. Get to know the locals at the Meet Market.
A former meat market turned beer joint, with sodas and snacks, live music on weekends and a nice vibe that will appeal to Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers alike, the Meet Market (714 High St.) is filled with lots of kitschy fun Beatles and Elvis photos and memorabilia. It’s a nice, dark, cool place to duck into to escape the heat.
4. Taste Texas wines and sip local spirits.
Just outside town are a couple of great boutique wineries. My husband and I stopped by Bending Branch Winery, (142 Lindner Branch Trail), which was named “Top Texas Winery” by the San Antonio Express-News 2017 Top 100. When we dropped in, guests sitting outside were enjoying live acoustic music, while in the tasting room folks were sampling Bending Branch’s award-winning wines.
Other local wineries and tasting rooms include the Singing Water Vineyards (316 Mill Dam Road), and the tasting room of Newsom Vineyards at Comfort (717 Front St.), or you can sample cheese boards and small plate delights and sip local wines at the Branch on High (704 High St.). Comfort also is proud to be home to “Texas Moonshine” from Hill Country Distillers (723 Front St.), using Texas ingredients (like prickly pear cactus and jalapeños) to make their spirits, so stop by the tasting room (Thursdays and Fridays 2 – 8pm, Saturdays and Sundays noon – 8pm).
5. Go on Welfare.
One of the best rustic little restaurants in South Texas is just 12 miles or so from Comfort in the one-building hamlet of Welfare, Texas. There the Welfare Cafe (223 Waring Welfare Rd.) welcomes foodies who are often thrilled to find this tiny treasure spot with authentic German cuisine and hearty Texas dishes.
6. Shop in comfort and style.
“Pickers” who love looking for antiques, collectibles and all kinds of fun finds will enjoy antique shops, including the Comfort Antique Mall (734 High St.), Blackbird Antiques (509 7th St.), Downright Texas Antiques (205 TX-27), Wilson Clements Antiques (405 7th St.), Stuff N More (515 7th St.) and the 8th Street Market (523 8th St.), just to name a few.
Not an antique lover? That’s OK. Comfort also has modern boutiques with contemporary fashions at places like Elizabeth Daniell Boutique (705 High St.), Christy’s Boutique (704 High St.) and home décor and more at inviting shops like Huckleberry’s (708 High St.), Turkey Ridge Trading Company (527 TX-27) and at The Elephant Story (723 and 725 High St.), which features eclectic international imports, home décor and fashion items, and 100 percent of its profits support Asian elephant conservation efforts in Thailand, Laos and Myanmar. The Artisan Gallery at Comfort Crockery (402 7th St.) features original art of local and regional artisans, and 15 minutes away, between Comfort and Sisterdale on FM 473, you will find Hill Country Pottery (738 FM 473), where both artistic and functional pottery is made and fired on site.
By Janis Turk