Foodie on a mission: Casa de Luz is a community through food; Settling into the semester introduces a craving for cleansing vegan fare

By Katelyn McCullough

Whoever decided that vegan food was bland when searching for alternatives. At the heart of vegan cooking is the concept of macrobiotics, which entails one eating whole, unprocessed foods as a way of healing the body and the soul.

Casa de Luz in North Park joins comfort and vegan food together, an unlikely combination. The restaurant claims that its mission is not to make a profit, but to provide a healing and wellness center for visitors to enjoy food that will taste and make them feel good.

Casa is the daughter restaurant of the original location in Austin, TX that opened 25 years ago by Eduardo (Wayo) Longoria II. The idea for a communal wellness center developed after the owner Eduardo (Wayo) Longoria III began cooking macrobiotically in his home. It started by just inviting a few of his close friends, but after some time he decided to open the center as a way to enjoy the macrobiotic way of life with the community. Casa is the result of Eduardo II’s son’s desire to have a place for vegans to enjoy healthy food in San Diego.

At Casa, the seating is communal as a way of promoting the macrobiotic concept that everyone is equal and should enjoy each other’s company. The décor is rustic and simple: wooden tables and chairs, simple lighting and features an open cafeteria-style to access the food. The setting makes one feel at ease. It’s as if the “family” of Casa is there for the customer. One of the most important missions of Casa is to provide a moderately priced meal, which includes all of the basics to sustain them, that they could feel comfortable coming two or three times a day. Seeing as how the menu changes daily and for each course, it would be tempting to return to Casa more than once per day.

The day that I visited Casa, the entrée consisted of pinto beans, kale with a walnut and cilantro sauce, zucchini boat with tofu cheese and caramelized onions, a quinoa-brown rice medley and pickled radish. Each entrée is meant to provide a sustainable meal consisting of beans, vegetables, a grain and something pickled to help with digestion. At Casa there is also a daily soup and salad available. In order to provide a well-balanced meal at a low cost, one can order the entrée plus soup and salad for under $20 and get a complimentary tea. The best part of Casa is not the pricing but the quality of the food; nothing I had was bland at all and could even make a meat eater happy. Even something normally as bitter as kale was made delectable by the innovation of a walnut and cilantro sauce that was rich and creamy with a slight tang.

The unfortunate aspect of this story is that Casa is in North Park and the parking is impossible up there. But if space is not to be wasted, then Casa has found a way to maximize this idea while creating sustainably cooked meals.