I discovered Comfort over 20 years ago on an extended road trip through the beautiful Texas Hill Country; however, a recent visit was a revelation. By 7 p.m., the streets were quiet and there was barely a car in sight. I felt like I was in the middle of nowhere, but in a way that made me feel safe and cozy. The reality is that Comfort is within 30 minutes to an hour of the state capital, Austin, San Antonio, and many other small cities and Hill Country attractions.
Comfort is only 3.25 square miles in size, but you’ll find tasting rooms, restaurants, excellent shopping, at least three coffee shops, an art gallery, library, and museum, all wrapped up in historic limestone buildings. If you’re looking for nightlife, don’t go to Comfort. If you’re looking for relaxation, fresh air, a sky full of stars, and all that the Hill Country embodies, Comfort is for you.
I think Comfort is an underappreciated treasure, in part because people don’t realize how convenient it is or how charming.
1. There’s More To Comfort Than Meets The Eye
Comfort was founded in 1854 by German immigrants. Called Freethinkers, these German settlers advocated reason and democracy over religious and political autocracy. They valued equal rights for all people and respect for life and nature. On High Street, you will find a marker, inset in limestone, that recognizes their contribution to the area.
You can learn more about the Freethinkers by visiting the Treue Der Union Monument, which honors the German settlers who were ambushed and killed by Confederate loyalists.
2. See How The Germans Left Their Mark On Comfort
Take a walk down High Street to explore the architecture and history of Comfort.
The beautifully restored limestone storefronts date to the late 1800s and tell the history of Comfort and its German founders. Many of the descendants of these original families still live in Comfort. Each building has a Texas state historical marker, making it easy to do your own self-guided walking tour.
Some of these buildings are now open to the public as businesses. What was once an old saloon is now The Elephant Story building, a unique shop that sells fair trade goods from Asia and donates 100 percent of the proceeds back to elephant rescue efforts and education. The owners estimate they raised about $60,000 last year.
The Hotel Faust -- now called Hotel Giles -- was built in 1880 as a residence for Peter Ingenhuett, whose family was one of Comfort’s founders. Designed by renowned San Antonio architect Alfred Giles, today it is completely remodeled but maintains the original carriage house and other property structures. A few doors down, you’ll find the original wooden Ingenhuett homestead.
3. Check Out Two Of Texas’s Top Winemakers
There are two wine tasting rooms in Comfort, and both are excellent. Each offers a very different experience; if you love wine, I recommend making time to visit both.
The Newsom family is well known for growing some of the best wine grapes in Texas. Though they have always sold their fruit to a handful of top winemakers in the state, they now have their own wines and tasting room experience in Comfort. The tasting room is located in a 100-year-old house, which owner and proprietor Nolan Newsom restored using reclaimed wood for the tasting room. About 15 wines are available for sale, plus the best wines from Texas winemakers who are buying fruit from the Newsoms.
Bending Branch Winery
Ursa at Branch on High is the Bending Branch tasting room for the wines produced from grapes grown in California’s Sierra Foothills. The tasting room is open for outside service on the porch, by appointment only. Or, you can stop by and pick up wine to go. Be sure to try the Angelica, a fortified wine made with brandy and aged for seven years in oak barrels. Divine! Hours are Thursday through Sunday.
If you want to try stellar Texas wines, you’ll need to go to the tasting room at Bending Branch ranch, located 10 minutes from the center of town. Tastings are outside, and the views are as good as the wines. Bending Branch specializes in Tannat, a grape that grows well in Texas. Be sure to try the sparkling rose of Tannat if they have any left! Open daily.
4. If You’re Going To Drink, You Must Eat
Comfort has several options for lunch, but the locals flock to High’s Cafe and Store. Housed in a building that was once the local fire station, High’s serves fresh casual food and seasonal favorites. I enjoyed a salad of spinach, butternut squash, red currants, blue cheese, and honey roasted pecans with a delicious cream cauliflower soup while sitting outside under a shady pecan tree. High’s Cafe and Store has a cookbook and a gift shop. Closed Monday and Tuesday. Open for lunch. Happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m.
Comfort Pizza is known for the fresh wood-fired pizzas done in an Italian oven. In its former life, it was a service station built in the 1920s. The seating is all outdoors, or you can order your pizza to go. They also offer beverage and dessert options. The place is cute, colorful, and the food is good. You can not miss it as it is right on the corner of 8th and High Street.
5. Take Home Some Original Art Or Take A Class
Studio Comfort offers a nice selection of contemporary art made by Texas artists. This is another place you might find a great gift for a friend or yourself. The studio also offers classes and workshops as well as fine art consultations.
6. Comfort Has A Reputation For Great Shopping
Comfort is known for antique shops and home design. In fact, for such a small place it’s kind of amazing how many shops there are.
The 8th Street Market is housed in an old Ford Motors factory. It’s a coop of designers and shops under the 6,000-square-foot space with more outside. This place is beautifully curated, so have a walkthrough and enjoy.
On Front Street, do not miss the Comfort Vintage and Bloom Market. This is a design and floral studio offering custom arrangements with vintage accents and furniture. They also have a large selection of garden decor. The owners have lived all over the world and have brought a unique, eclectic perspective to the shop in Comfort.
Since there are so many other shops along High Street, you could easily spend a day just wandering through them. One that I liked for gifts is The Victorian Rose. They sell chocolates, Texas olive oil, ornaments, cute vintage-looking cup towels, and all sorts of Comfort-themed items.
7. Camp In Style At Camp Comfort
Camp Comfort, a boutique bed and breakfast, began as a turnverein, or social and athletic club, created by the German settlers. The original building is now used for events, and it’s the place where you pick up breakfast.
Though each room at Camp Comfort features all the necessary creature comforts, what is most special about Camp Comfort is its location on Cypress Creek. The location allows you an opportunity to reconnect with nature. At night you can sit quietly on your porch or roast s'mores on a campfire. In the morning, wake up to the sound of a rooster crowing and spot deer wandering along the creek. My favorite time of day was just before dusk when the sun sets and the light filters through the cypress trees.
There are a variety of rooms to choose from, including individual cabins, two airstreams, a house that will comfortably sleep eight people, and what owner Lisa Kelleher calls the alley rooms; once a nine-pin bowling alley that was part of the original athletic club.
Camp Comfort is the perfect antidote to well, just about everything. However, if they’re booked, check out their other property, The Meyer Bed and Breakfast on High Street. Oh yeah, Camp Comfort is just a 5- to 10-minute walk from High Street.