Things to Do

Get a Delicious Taste of Food and Fun in Cleburne, Texas

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Tony Maples Photography


On a recent weekend in Cleburne, my husband and I discovered several unique restaurants, an old-fashioned candy store, and scores of interesting museums. The North Texas city also boasts a recreational lake, live performances at the Plaza Arts Theater, and numerous parks and trails. My sports-loving husband was thrilled to learn that Cleburne even has a baseball team, the Railroaders.

While we had hoped to explore more of these interesting venues, time ran out before we made it to all of them. We found it hard to stick to our schedule when everyone we met was so friendly, and every place we visited had a fascinating back story. We’re going back to Cleburne again this month to catch up on some must-sees we missed earlier. The Plaza Arts production of “Titanic the Musical” will be followed by a Railroaders’ game, with an opportunity to explore more museums also on the agenda.

Favorite Finds in Cleburne

Get a Delicious Taste of Food and Fun in Cleburne, Texas

Photo: Break Room owners

Here are just a few of our favorite “finds” from the first visit to Cleburne, which was hosted by Visit Cleburne.

At The Break Room Brewing Company, we were amazed by how good the food was. Since brew pubs are usually known for other reasons—like cold craft beer and their laid-back, casual ambiance—we hadn’t expected to find fine dining as well. A spacious, shaded patio that features live music on weekends also makes the Break Room a family favorite. It was packed with family groups to hear local singer and songwriter Kaitlyn Jewett that Friday night.

Break Room’s restaurant also features real Texas hospitality and an efficient staff. We thanked the owners, Shannon and Collin May, for making us feel “at home” in their friendly atmosphere. Now, to the food, which was a definite highlight!

Break Room Brewing Company

Get a Delicious Taste of Food and Fun in Cleburne, Texas

Photo: Holt

We both ordered the soup du jour, Lobster Bisque ($5), which was very good. I was tempted by some of the burgers and sandwiches, like a Hatch Green Chili Cheeseburger ($12) or a Reuben sandwich ($13). Those would pair well with the Rahr’s Blonde craft beer I ordered. But I couldn’t resist trying their Shrimp Scampi ($17). The dish was really delicious, featuring eight large shrimp tossed in a white wine sauce with Angel Hair pasta, onion, tomatoes, and red pepper flecks.

My husband ordered his true Texan standby, CFS with gravy, fries, and fried okra, which proved to be too much of a good thing. He took half of it back to our hotel, the Hampton Inn & Suites, in case he craved a late-night snack.

The Break Room Brewing Company is located at 4001 TX 174 in Cleburne, open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 12 a.m. They feature live music on the patio from 7-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Call 817-556-0202 for more information.

Garden of Eating Bistro

Get a Delicious Taste of Food and Fun in Cleburne, Texas

Photo: Holt

Saturday we had lunch at the Garden of Eating Bistro, an absolutely delightful downtown Cleburne spot filled with antiques, greenery, and memorabilia. They’re only open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and eager diners had already packed the dining area. Signs on the door warned they were short of servers, as many restaurants are now. Our service was fine, though, largely thanks to the charismatic owner and Garden Goddess Lori Fatton. Her motto is “Our secret ingredient is love,” and she showers love and attention on every patron who enters the Garden.

I ordered one of their gourmet sandwiches, the Mother Clucker, (homemade chicken salad on soft sourdough bun with dried cranberries, red onion, and celery), with a side of Broccoli and Cauliflower salad ($8.95). My husband ordered a Hob Gobbler (turkey on grilled sourdough with Cheddar cheese, avocado, sliced red onion, tomatoes, and lettuce with Chipotle Aioli) and a side of German potato salad ($9.95).

Garden of Eating Bistro is located at 205 S. Main Street in Downtown Cleburne. For information, call 817-774-2078.

Trovato Street Candy Store

Get a Delicious Taste of Food and Fun in Cleburne, Texas

Photo: Holt

We opted for dessert at our next stop, the Trovato Street Candy Store, a few blocks away. Owners Jim and Teresa Ferens opened their old-fashioned candy and root beer store October 31, 2019—just in time for trick or treaters. The couple, who met in Italy, had purchased the two-story building in 2017 and spent the next few years renovating it. While the candy store proved popular immediately, it had to close for several months during the pandemic. They used the downtime constructively, building a 16’ bar in back of the store.

I happily ordered a $3 root beer flight (and found each one better than the one before), while my husband loved his root beer float—made with Gene Autry Root Beer. Trovato Street features over 50 brands of root beer, ranging from Barq’s to Boots Sarsaparilla. Candy counters display more nostalgic and colorful kinds of candy than we knew existed. Another Trovato’s specialty is putting together unique gift baskets for their customers, but those need to be ordered ahead.

Trovota Street Candy Store is located at 105 E Henderson Street, and the owners live in the upstairs loft of the meticulously renovated old building. For information call 682-317-1898.

Fly by Night Cattle Co.

Get a Delicious Taste of Food and Fun in Cleburne, Texas

Photo: Co-owner Jennifer Craft

That night we drove out to Fly by Night Steak House and Cattle Co., owned by Bill and Jennifer Craft, for dinner. We were glad to have a reservation, since the place was packed to the gills with loyal customers. Some of them had journeyed much further than we did, returning to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, or other special occasions at their favorite steak house.

After eating my way around downtown Cleburne earlier, I tried eating a little lighter, opting for the Tenderloin Tips with mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes and green beans ($18). Their award-winning Burgundy Tenderloin ($42) was tempting, though. My husband ordered a 6 oz. grilled Tenderloin steak for $34, and savored every bite of the “best darn steak I’ve had in years.”

We noticed a sign on the steak house door, warning us about server shortages. We were happy to wait, since we were enjoying Fly by Night’s authentic Texas ambiance. Everyone was genuinely friendly, especially Jennifer (the owner, Bill wasn’t there), and Cody, our waitress. While they were incredibly busy, they still dispensed true Southwestern hospitality to all their guests.

Fly by Night Steak House and Cattle Co. is only open for dinner Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights starting at 4:30 p.m. The ranch also features an event center that holds up to 200 guests for special occasions. They’re located at 2705 County Road 1125 in Cleburne. Call 817-645-7200 for information.