Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Delicious Dining in the Texas Hill Country

Folks travel to Comfort for fresh air and scenery, unique shops and maybe a taste of local wine.  Lucky travelers also find four eateries high on fresh-picked and made-from-scratch, with unique menus and settings--all within twenty minutes of High Street in the center of Comfort.  

Eight years ago, Brent Ault and Denise Rabalais moved to Comfort to start an interior design store.  Brent made coffee and cookies to welcome clients to the new business.  Folks liked the refreshments so much they came to sip and munch.  Pretty soon the storefront became High’s Cafe and Store, named for its High Street location. 

Today, High’s is the place to go for light-crumbed fruit muffins baked fresh every morning. Or a seasonal soup-salad-or-sandwich lunch featuring house-made breads, enjoyed outside on the vine-covered patio or next door in the airy dining space.  The menu includes favorites such as a grape-sweet and chunky chicken salad and specialties like a succulent crab cake (more crab than cake) topped with a dollop of roasted red pepper and jalapeƱo tartar sauce.  One of High’s butter-rich chocolate chip pecan cookies is big enough to be dessert for two. 

(830) 995-4995, 726 High St, Comfort, Tx 78013,
Monday - Saturday 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Breakfast: 8 a.m. - 11 a.m., Lunch 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. 
Closed Wednesdays
Sunday 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Breakfast 9 a.m.-11 a.m., Lunch 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

About twenty miles away, next to the summer home of millions of Mexican freetail bats at Old Tunnel Wildlife Management Area, Mike Tangman and Cindy Dechert-Tangman welcome folks to the laid-back vibe of Alamo Springs Cafe, where “Anybody is Nobody” and diners get their own drinks from the cooler, paying on the honor system. 

Mike and Cindy fell in love at the Cafe.  Mike left a corporate career to start the eatery and Cindy told him he needed her help to get it going.  Together they created a hearty menu and down-home atmosphere drawing visitors for Texas favorites with a twist. 

You’ll be tempted to order their specialty burger—a juicy half-pound of grilled beef on a sweet cheddar and jalapeno bun piled six inches high with avocado, grilled onions, green chilies and blue cheese, but the best advice is to split it, because half is a big meal.  The menu also features lighter fare like grilled quail over a mixed romaine salad dressed in fresh basil vinaigrette.  And most folks save room for the seasonal house-made desserts.  The offerings change at the whim of the pastry chef but you might find pecan pie like Grandma’s, juicy peach cobbler from Fredericksburg fruit or a towering dark chocolate cake.

(830) 990-8004, 107 Alamo Rd., Fredericksburg, TX 78624,
Open Today 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.

A highway sign between San Antonio and Comfort marks the I-10 exit for the town of Welfare, with a self-declared population of ten, including the goats. Thirteen years ago, Gabriele McCormick and David Lawhorn left high-pressure jobs in Houston for the quiet of the country.  David discovered a passion for history; Gaby put her passion for food into practice.  After restoring Welfare’s 1880’s grocery and post office building, they opened Welfare Cafe inside, offering finely crafted dishes amid Hill Country history.

The menu changes often for seasonal ingredients from local farms, and dishes span a range of food cultures, including German, Mexican and soul-food.  Some patrons never make it past the weekly specials, too tempted by orange-pineapple arugula salad, roasted duck breast sandwich on artisan bread, or appetizer crab cakes, sweet with crab.  Soups, salad dressings and desserts are house-made.  If you’re lucky, you’ll arrive the day the pastry chef puts out melt-in-your-mouth peach strudel.

(830) 537-3700, 223 Waring Welfare Rd., Welfare, 78006, welfaretexas.comDriving Directions 
Thursday and Friday 5 p.m. - 9 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. - 9 p.m.

Winding up the hill at Riven Rock Ranch, visitors look out over hay fields and pastures with grazing cattle.  At the top, The Terrace Grill rises from native stone, surrounded by gardens, as if it had always been there.  

Chris and Elaine Havens purchased the ranch as a good place to live after corporate life.  They didn’t plan on opening a resort or dining destination, but the land was too beautiful not to share.  Together they built a unique ranch-resort with an elegant rustic restaurant serving distinctive local cuisine. 

Diners enter past a wood-fired oven where Chef Joseph bakes lunch pizzas from ingredients such as wild boar sausage with garlic, gorgonzola and red onion, spiked with fresh oregano and basil.  The burger is made from beef raised on the ranch.  Chicken salad changes quarterly.  In autumn the salad has sun-dried apricots and toasted pecans, served on a baked-this-morning buttery croissant or topping a crisp salad. 

Dinners feature more formal fare, including citrus pesto shrimp with orange shallot honey reduction.  House-made desserts like sweet-smooth tiramisu with a deep chocolate and roasted coffee tang offer a memorable finish.

(830) 995-4045, 390 Hermann Sons Road, Comfort, TX 
Friday- Sunday: Lunch 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p. m., Dinner 5:30 p.m.-9:00 p.m.

Riven Rock Update: The Terrace Grill at Riven Rock will close after November 17, 2013.  The ranch has been sold and will become a private family compound after that date.

Wherever you come from, the food around Comfort lives up to the name.  

Copyright 2009-2013 Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.


  1. Anyone who likes burgers has to check out the Alamo Springs Cafe. Voted #2 burger in Texas by Texas Monthly. It's an EXPERIENCE.

  2. Hi Kathleen,
    Thanks for the recommendations! :)
    Best regards from Karnes City,

  3. These all look like keepers. You make me want to come down and explore the hill country, Kathleen. x0 N2


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