Casa de Luz – A Vegetarian Mecca Since 1991

An indulgent food blogger and sweets connoisseur walks into a vegan house and then is magnetically attracted back once a week. This statement sounds like that silly ” a man walks into a bar” joke, except this is REAL. I stumbled into Casa de Luz right off South Lamar by Town Lake which has been around since 1991. This means this restaurant is almost my age and I never heard about it when I was living in Austin in college. Although lets be real, I’d never heard of a vegan or the phrase macrobiotic food until the last few years probably. Let me first preface that I don’t care that this food is vegan, vegetarian, macrobiotic, what I care about is how unbelievably AMAZING every bite is. I do not discriminate unless you are an olive.

Upon entering the jungle like terrain, you pay a flat fee of $12 for your lunch or dinner. This includes a self-serve soup and salad station. After you pick up your goodies, you seat yourself either at a large circular table that could essentially seat six or more or you can just tack on to a square table. The sunlight is beaming and outdoor seating is available as well because obviously they want you to get your Vitamin D here. The soup lately has been a nice, yellow broth with cauliflower, carrot, cabbage and other vegetables. I also loved the vegetarian Posole with fresh condiments to add on your own such as herbs, onions, and cabbage. The carrots are so tender in here and it goes well with the red broth. It’s super hearty and after a heaping bowl paired with a mixed green salad that tastes like the ladies spent hours massaging the leaves to make them perfectly soft and leafy, you are basically full. Good thing it’s that nice, and healthy full where it won’t hurt you to eat the entire entree that the ladies drop in front of you after you clear your soup and salad bowls. The salad dressings are obviously dairy and gluten free but they make them so light, creamy, and sugar less that it’s quite a shock. Think sunflower basil dressing or parsley dressing.

When you receive your entreé, it looks like a homemade plate of heaven. You can see them making the fresh plates right behind the counter. I’m telling you, this place is so magical, that even if you are a veggie hater, they’ll trick you into loving every single piece. So far, my favorite has been the Soft Tacos with homemade corn tortillas stuffed with mixed veggies, mushrooms, and avocado. These are probably the biggest and brightest corn tortillas I’ve ever seen. They know what they are doing obviously. All main dishes are pretty much paired with blanched greens or kale so there’s your vitamins for the day. They are also great about serving brown rice or quinoa that is a bit dense and soft and topped with some kind of almond seed or almond oregano dressing. Check the website here daily for the menu.

Let me tell you that it doesn’t stop with the  carrots, turnips, leeks, cauliflower, zucchini, squash, dark leafy greens, legumes, or herbs. The all organic, low glycemic, and gluten free desserts hold their own. Well, I’m not so sure about that puny looking pecan pie, but I haven’t tried it. The Blackberry Cobbler, however, is nutty, moist, gooey, crunchy, fruity, soft, and just the right amount of sweetness. I’m really drinking the Kool-Aid here, or in this case, the hibiscus iced tea, but don’t worry I won’t be giving up my other indulgences. I know it seems crazy, but I love it here, and the wholesome feelings you discover while eating here and when you walk out the door create a happy body.

That being said, Casa de Luz is not just a restaurant but a community. As you pull up, it’s a nice red-orange house with outdoor seating, a kids jungle gym, and even an “Integrity Academy” which is a children’s learning center.  The restaurant even has a pantry where they sell lentils, grains, sauces, books, and other healthy lifestyle products.

If you really want to make a day out of it, try my favorite work out class Crush Fitness. Make sure you take Brandon’s class. He plays the best music and keeps your heart rate up almost too high!