Frankly, I am always looking for inspiration.
When I had the pleasure of eating at Casa de Luz in Austin with Candice and Laura, I found the most peaceful restaurant I have EVER seen. It was a totally and deliciously different paradigm.
The business model of most restaurants is sort of… well… insane. Think about it: you get to choose whatever you want off their menu, customize it to you liking and everyone at your table has the potential to order a completely unique dish. Those who serve the food are almost always overextended. The quality of the food generally suffers, and a lot of the restaurant workers are stressed out to the point of full-blown substance abuse.
Casa de Luz has a completely different approach to the restaurant, and those who serve the food actually maintain a state of peacefulness. Plus, the quality of food is top notch.
The following is from Candice – who ‘excavates beautiful things’ and appreciates all things table. I am profoundly grateful for her incessant friendship.
Casa de Luz redefines the typical eating out experience. Upon entering the walking path towards the restaurants, wild vines climb the walls and arbors, and tuck around sitting areas and into the small pavilions that line the path.
The outdoor atmosphere hints at the days I spent in Oaxaca, Mexico – colors of rust, and earthy greens, textures of tile and wood, and a slow, slow pace of life.
Upon walking in, a guest pays a flat rate for whatever the chefs are preparing that day. “Nature is our menu planner,” says a sign painted over the stove in the oven.
I find a place next to the window and set my purse and keys on a wooden table top.
Casa de Luz’s walls form windows all around, which lets in a tremendous amount of natural light so the restaurant rarely turns on over head lights. Floor lamps stand next to tables in the corners.
I head over to the serving counter to choose silverware and my favorite colored cloth napkin from the community tray; today I selected a sunny yellow. I prepare a water glass and a mug of twig tea a little further down the bar.
The day’s soup is warming in a big pot that customers use to ladle into their bowls. A mix of hominy, carrots in a tomato broth pours thick into my bowl. Fresh herbs, minced onions, and lemon wedges wait to the side to mix in. A salad of red lettuce topped with a seedy dressing and green cabbage slaw is set out.
After returning to my table, I just look out the window and enjoy my food slowly. The tea sipping goes slowly at Casa de Luz. Before you realize, ten, fifteen, and then twenty minutes passes.
I return to the bar for my main course, steamed butternut squash, beans, and rice topped with a mushroom glaze, a pinch of pickled radishes over sautéed kale.
I overhear a pieces of conversation, and notice the beautifully aging women down the table. From the volume of voices to the intentional food, this little restaurant envelops each guest in a haven of peace, even if for just an hour lunch break.
You might expect hippie dads and yogis to be dining here, but businessmen and women, lobbyists, and Austin’s wealthy all frequent Casa de Luz.
Needing to make my next appointment I drink the last of my tea and stack my dishes to be drop off at the kitchen.
A whole hour has just passed and I feel like I truly enjoyed food, had a chance to hear my own thoughts, and stop to enjoy the beauty around me.
The best part?
You get to walk out the same way you walked in.