On my recent day trip to Lockhart, I found out about that city’s past as a rough cowboy town. I was prepared to learn a similar history during my visit to Comanche, Texas. However, after spending 72 hours there, I’d describe Comanche as more of a rough outlaw town. The town’s residents would agree.
Everywhere I went, locals were quick to tell me tales of Comanche’s infamous characters, interesting landmarks, and deep (often violent) history with the very Native Americans the town and county were named after.
Although the town–with a population of little more than 4,000 people, located two hours northwest of Austin–still has a rustic outlaw vibe, it’s become quite the Texas charmer. Visitors can enjoy an award-winning winery, antique shops, museums, and local restaurants.
So if you’re looking to escape Austin in search of a little adventure, then I encourage you to hop in the car and head out to explore Comanche.
Thank you to the various businesses featured in this article for hosting me at no charge. All opinions are my own.
Things to Do in Comanche
Stroll around town to learn about the city’s interesting past and experience its unique sights.
Comanche Chamber of Commerce
Just off the square sits a train depot built around 1909 that was recently restored to its former glory. The building now serves as the city’s chamber of commerce and visitor’s center. Stop in to marvel at the architecture and a few relics from a bygone era.
While you’re there, pick up brochures and pamphlets about the happenings and places to see in town.
304 S. Austin St. – Website
Comanche County Historical Museum
Comanche County’s history really is the stuff of wild west movies, spotted with cowboys, Comanche (Native American) raids, and violent gunslingers.
You can learn about these events and more at Comanche County Historical Museum, which features exhibits and hundreds of items donated by locals. This museum even features a replica of the John Wesley Hardin shoot-out at the Jack Wright Saloon, which was located on the Comanche square.
It was there, back on May 26, 1874, that Hardin shot and killed Deputy Sheriff Charlie Webb. After three years on the run, Hardin was captured and convicted of second degree murder, before being sentenced to 25 years at Huntsville State Penitentiary.
Hardin was released after 15 years and tried to live a quiet life as a lawyer in El Paso, but he was quick to return to his old ways. He was killed on Aug. 19, 1895, in El Paso at Acme Saloon by off-duty police offer John Selman. Selman was later acquitted of wrongdoing, as the jury felt “he had done the town a favor.”
Hardin, though not as infamous as outlaws like Billy the Kid and Jesse James, is thought to hold the record for killing the most men in the shortest time span.
Comance County Museum also features photos of and other memorabilia related to Hardin, a Native American diorama, a blacksmith area, a doll room, and a veteran salute. While there’s no charge for admission, this nonprofit run by Comanche County Historical Society operates on donations and gift shop sales.
402 Moorman Road – Website
Old Cora & Fleming Oak
This 12-foot by 12-foot split log cabin structure was built in the now extinct town of Cora, just 10 miles southeast of Comanche, right after Comanche County was founded in 1856. The structure served as the county seat until 1859.
Old Cora now sits on the Comanche square next to Fleming Oak and is one of the oldest standing courthouses in Texas.
According to tradition, early Comanche transplant Martin V. Fleming and his father spent their first night in Comanche County under the sprawling oak tree now located next to Old Cora. As the story goes, the base of the tree saved Fleming from a Comanche Indian attack that night.
And in 1911, it was “Uncle Mart” Fleming who saved the beautiful tree from being cut down by city workers who were attempting to pave the courthouse square.
101 West Central – Website
Comanche City Park
Don’t miss the opportunity to stroll the sprawling and scenic city park grounds. This is the perfect place to get back to nature, or exercise pets and children alike. I highly suggest going in early morning to catch a glimpse of this returning herd of deer, fed daily by a city worker.
1200 Comanche Trails – Website
Where to Shop in Comanche
Shop local for food, clothing, and antiques that can’t be found anywhere else in the state.
Pecans aren’t just a way of life in San Saba. They’re a passion in Comanche, too. Family-owned Sorrells Farms is selling pecan everything at its retail store, all made from pecans harvested from the family’s own 1,200-acre orchard located on the outskirts of town.
Sorrells Farms has been a major pecan supplier since 1977. It has also been a supplier of watermelons, cantaloupes, tomatoes, and peaches, available for purchase from the produce room in the retail store. Sorrells also sells a variety of gifts, clothing, and garden and home goods to gift to yourself or a loved one.
409 E. Central Ave. – Website
Unique Antiques & Collectibles
Unique Antiques & Collectibles has one of the best collections of neon and vintage porcelain signs for miles and miles. The 5,000-square-foot store also offers hundreds of relics that are carefully curated and displayed by owner Paula Stephens.
Stephens, who resides in Brownwood, opened the antique retail space a little more than one and a half years ago. She welcomes visitors to stop on in and look around. Also keep your eyes open for Sisters on the Fly festival organized by Stephens, coming in 2019 and featuring adorable trailers from all over.
205 N. Austin St. – Facebook
Pop in to this cute little clothier to shop dresses, denim, jewelry and more. You won’t find big city prices, but you will find quality goods!
107 W. Grand Ave. – Website
Where to Eat and Drink in Comanche
Wine and dine at the establishments below for truly unique culinary experiences.
You wouldn’t believe such a sophisticated winery sits just outside such a rustic little town. Since 2005, Brennan Vineyards has been growing 10 varieties of grapes and producing 16 different wines.
Brennan is known for its Viognier, a refreshing white wine with notes of peaches, Meyer lemons, and honeysuckle. The Viognier and other wines can be enjoyed in the tasting room through a classic or private tasting, as well as by the glass or bottle on the peaceful outdoor patios.
802 S. Austin St. – Website
➡️ Keep reading: Roll Out the Barrel: Notable Texas Wineries Worth Visiting
Stone Eagle Beer Garden
Part of 4 North Event Center, Stone Eagle Beer Garden is a family-owned, German-style bar, located in a renovated historical building on the square in Comanche.
This is the place to see and be seen in the evening, for locals and visitors alike. Head in to enjoy craft, Texas, and domestic beer and wine, plus a spacious outdoor patio and live music from musicians who come from all over the state.
124 N. Austin St. – Facebook
Sometimes—especially when you’re road trippin’ or vacationing— you just need a big ole’ Texas-sized country breakfast. I’m talking about the kind of breakfast that includes a chicken fried steak and side of grandma-style fluffy biscuits.
Matt Daddy’s has you covered when that need arises. Lunch and dinner are also served, with made-to-order burgers pressed in-house, as well as hearty sandwiches, hand-battered chicken tenders, steak fingers, and the like.
127 N. Houston – Facebook
The first thing I noticed when I entered Star Beau’s was that owner Beau was cooking all by himself, and one waitress was taking care of all the tables. I asked Beau about it, and he told me he’s been cooking by himself for about 20 years.
And he isn’t just slapping sandwiches together and calling it a day. He’s cooking up pasta that could rival your Italian grandma, if your grandma was Italian.
Bring your own bottle of wine (I suggest one from Brennan Vineyards) and order mouth-watering pasta, or one of Beau’s famous sandwiches like the Southwest Clucker. Just be prepared to patiently wait. As I mentioned above, Beau is the only cook in the kitchen and there’s only one server for the entire place.
134 W. Central Ave. – Facebook
California chef Todd Sanders moved to Comanche in 2012, along with his wife Sarimah and their children. With the support of his family, he opened Harvest Restaurant in 2016 and has been providing fine dining to the people of Texas ever since.
Sanders, who’s been cooking since he was 16, has an extensive culinary background, including attaining the rank of Third Class Culinary Specialist in the U.S. Coast Guard, graduating from The Art Institute of Seattle’s Culinary Program, and working under several award-winning chefs.
Nowadays, you can find the kind yet passionate chef creating 5-star meals at his casual, farm-to-table restaurant, which is open for lunch five days a week and dinner four days a week. The seasonal menu changes every three months, and features daily specials in addition to Braveheart steaks, fresh seafood, and pasta. Harvest Restaurant is a must-try dining experience.
And don’t skip town without indulging in Chef Sanders’ famous Sunday brunch. I don’t think I went an hour without hearing rave reviews about it while in town. Also note Chef’s Tasting Dinners that take place on the last Tuesday of every month.
Through these dinners, known as “Taste of the World: A World of Food,” Sanders and Chef Jack Matthew highlight countries in alphabetical order (Afghanistan, Brazil, Cuba, and so on). Over six courses, the chefs present different cuisines to the table and talk about what they’ve learned from each country. For more information or to make a reservation, call Harvest Restaurant.
112 N. Austin – Website
The Soda Shop
A while back, a group of townspeople got together and decided to restore an old building on the square, turning it into a 1950s soda shop complete with an old school glowing jukebox, and black and white checkered tile.
The project was part of the Revitalize Comanche initiative, a 501(c)(3) organization with the goal of promoting the city as a heritage and tourism destination.
The Soda Shop is run completely by volunteers, mainly a group of ladies who make up the Revitalize Comanche committee. And boy, they sure can whip up some tasty sundaes, shakes, and floats. Here, you can simultaneously indulge in a sweet treat while giving life to the town.
109 N. Houston St. – Facebook
Taqueria Los Juanes
This no-frills restaurant serves Tex-Mex and traditional Mexican food at insanely affordable prices. First-hand experience: you can’t go wrong with the fajitas or enchiladas!
806 N High St. – Facebook
Tomorrow’s Keepsakes/Corner Coffee Shop
This combination coffee shop/antique hub is a one-stop shop for gourmet, Italian coffee, homemade pastries, collectibles, and artisanal products.
Tomorrow’s Keepsakes also offers a variety of homemade sandwiches that come with a cookie, taro chips, and peach tea for only $6.99I! Let it be known that owner Mary Walker drives to Fort Worth almost every week to pick up all the fixin’s from Sprouts or a similar grocery store, in order to provide customers with a quality meal.
While you wait on your coffee or sandwich to be made, you can shop local artisan products, like hand-milled soaps from Sissy’s Soapery, one-of-a-kind vintage clothing and jewelry by local artist Pat Reese, and beautiful antiques.
101 W. Grand Ave. – Facebook
Where to Stay in Comanche
Up a narrow staircase Between Harvest Restaurant and Stone Eagle Beer Garden is one of the most beautiful Airbnb rentals I’ve ever stayed at. Seriously, I squealed when I opened the old wooden door and walked in. Pictures don’t do the place justice.
Yes, Jean-Marie Suites offers quite the oasis away from home, with its sophisticated French furnishings, wooden floors, grand ceilings, and lovely views of the Comanche square and courthouse. I guarantee you’ll wake up every morning, stare at the ornate, yellow ceilings, and feel like French royalty.
Not to mention that this luxurious rental property is within walking distance of just about everything in town, including multiple restaurants, retail stores, and historical points of interest. The location alone makes it insanely easy to have a great time and do so responsibly. “Good dogs” and children are welcome.
108 S. St. – Website
These additional overnight accommodations, retailers, activities, and attractions come highly recommended by locals:
- SF Ranch B&B: This 800-acre ranch featuring a quaint ranch home is another option if you’re looking to kick it in Comanche for more than one day.
- Comanche County Pow Wow: You’re invited to the 37th annual Native American-themed event that celebrates Comanche’s rich history, and features local vendors and much more.
- Proctor Lake: Locals recommend this 4,500-acre lake 15 miles down the road for exploring, picnicking, fishing, and boating (not swimming, as the water is a bit murky and brown).
- Barbed Wire & Lace: Shop clothing, jewelry, and home decor at this adorable house turned retail store.
- Wonderful Things: This lovely place located on the square is a go-to for all the things! Shop home decor, kitchen gadgets, shoes, clothing, handbags, and much, much more.
@dollarsaenz wants to know:
Have you ever been to Comanche, Texas?