Strolling along Comfort’s High Street on a sunny Saturday afternoon it’s easy to feel as if one has time traveled to a place that existed before smart phones, instant messages, and Facebook.
What a relief.
Founded in 1854 by Freethinking German immigrants, Comfort remains small in size with a population of 3,189. It also maintains what is arguably the state’s finest example of an intact, original downtown. Many of the buildings were designed by a British architect named Alfred Giles who had a ranch in the area.
Like many of his contemporaries, Giles moved to the region in the 1880s because of health reasons. (The American West, particularly the Hill Country area north of San Antonio, was widely regarded as being restorative to patients suffering a variety of ills, especially tuberculosis.) Although Giles is known for domestic and civic architecture in the Lone Star State and in Monterrey, Mexico, we’re partial to a stage coach inn that he constructed in tiny Comfort in 1880. Giles added a wing to the original structure in 1884.
Today that historic facility is a 14-room boutique hotel known as Hotel Faust, complete with a nifty Tesla charging station for eco-savvy guests. The entire property was renovated a few years ago (and there are plans for more changes), but the building retains its signature historic Texas elegance. There are suites available, named for prominent German immigrants, as well as cottages for rent. There’s also an original gazebo out back (with a darling tin roof), a friendly staff, and a broad front porch with rocking chairs for people watching. The hotel is the perfect landing spot for out-of-towners who wish to make the most of downtown Comfort’s dining and shopping options.
For foodies, there is an abundance of options. For starters, on High Street you’ll find places like Comfort Pizza, High’s Cafe and Store, and 814 A Texas Bistro. “That little bistro is perhaps the region’s best kept secret,” a local told us. “The menu is small and the place is small, but everything is done to perfection.” Housed in the town’s old post office, 814 A Texas Bistro is owned chef Millard Kuykendall and open only Thursdays through Sundays. The menu changes seasonally, but recent options included lamb, steak, and flounder. (Reservations are suggested.)
When it comes to shopping, Comfort more than delivers. In keeping with the community’s tagline, “An Antique Town,” several stores feature vintage, antique, and salvage items (you know, the good “junk”). Among them is The 8th Street Market, a multi-dealer collectible and repurposed goods emporium, is worth a stop. They’ve got a great little coffee shop inside, too, called The Wander’n Calf.
If you’d like to shop items of a more recent vintage, we’re partial to Miss Giddy’s, filled to the brim with home and garden items, seasonal decor, and a rather glamorous stash of “cheater” reading glasses. The beauty of Miss Giddy’s is that as much attention has been paid to the inside as the outside, with charming garden spaces welcoming customers (and butterflies). [Update: Since this story posted, we’ve learned that Miss Giddy’s is set to close in December 2017.] The Elephant Story is a wonderful little shop, with proceeds benefitting Asian elephant conservation. Looking for elegant clothing or accessories? See the Elizabeth Daniell Boutique. For the knitting crowd, The Tinsmith’s Wife is close to the main drag and sells yarn, needles, and patterns.
There are at least half a dozen other eateries and shops to check out in Comfort. Luckily, with it being only a short trip out from San Antonio, Alamo City residents can visit a couple of times a month to get the most of the town’s charms. (For other folks, we suggest a longer, overnight trip paired with a side visit to the larger community of Boerne or that you tack on a day to a Fredericksburg getaway.) When the weather’s nice it’s great fun to find a (free!) parking place, stretch the ol’ legs from your drive, grab a delicious meal, and stroll through Comfort to see what pleasures await.
In fact, we can think of few better ways to spend a Hill Country Saturday.
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