Casa De Luz

1701 Toomey Road
Austin 78704
(512) 476-2535

Adults, $8 lunch or dinner, or $10 weekend brunch, tax included. $3.50 for kids.

Cash, Check

It's a little hard to find, tucked away behind the Parkside School across from Zach Scott Theatre on Toomey, but Casa de Luz is well worth the search if you're hungry for the best in healthful eating. Lunches, brunches, and dinners are made from 98.9% organic ingredients (the lone non-organic holdout -- canola oil) and prepared with macrobiotic cooking principles, which means an emphasis on whole grains, fresh produce and the best kitchen energy around.

Instead of basing the meal around a meat dish, macrobiotics centers on a whole grain (usually brown rice mixed with another grain) and enhances with soup, vegetables prepared in various macrobiotic styles, and raw salad ingredients for those who prefer their food au naturel. The result is a lighter, lower-fat and ultimately more satisfying meal that satisfies without the feeling of having over-eaten.

Casa's routine varies from the norm: pay $8 up front for your fixed-menu meal, and help yourself to a bowl of soup to whet your appetite. Choose a seat either at a small or communal table or on the peaceful patios next to the school's playground and gardens, and in a moment, your plate will arrive at your table. (Those who prefer to dine in silence will find at least one table so designated -- remember, this kind of food takes a lot of chewing.) At the end of the meal, you bus your own dishes and utensils.

On weekends, Casa serves a brunch buffet--at most restaurants, such a meal is the only all-you-can-eat offering, but at Casa you're always welcomed to go back for seconds. The thing is: this food is so nutritious and filling, one serving takes care of most people.

For a couple of bucks more, try one of several desserts made fresh daily without wheat or refined sugar. You can take out meals in your own container or one of Casa's reusable ones (for a $2 deposit). If the macrobiotic way of life looks interesting, check out the book- and browsing store in one corner of the big, airy room for references and gifts dedicated to better health. --Betsy Thaggard