photo credit: Nicolai McCrary

Casa De Luz image

Casa de Luz


ZilkerSouth Austin

$$$$Perfect For:Keeping It Kind Of HealthyVegansVegetarians
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Watching cartoons as kids, we thought desert oases would be much more of a thing in our lives—right up there with quicksand and dangerous banana peels. But as it turns out, a little sanctuary where it’s most needed (and least expected) isn’t really something that most people stumble upon. Unless, that is, they find their way into Casa De Luz, a community center and vegan cafeteria, all set in a garden sanctuary just a few steps from Zilker Park in South Austin.

The entry to Casa De Luz feels like something out of a fairytale. It’s set back a small ways from the busy street outside, accessible by a long, brick walkway full of tall bamboo stalks and overhanging plants. All it’s missing is a choir of birds or some kind of rock that tells you your future. There are a handful of entryways leading to little juice shops and event spaces along the walk, but eventually, you’ll find the small hut that serves as the main dining room. It’s essentially a large cafeteria—a pretty nondescript room full of wooden tables and a short line of people waiting for food.

Casa De Luz image

photo credit: Nicolai McCrary

If you’re the indecisive type, relax—each day comes with a set menu, served cafeteria style, for about $15. You can revisit the line as often as you’d like, but each time you’ll leave with a tray of food covered in an assortment of soups, bread, salads, and whatever else the kitchen decided to whip up that day. The menu is defined more by fresh, seasonal produce than by any one cuisine—we’ve received mushroom tacos right next to bowls of butternut squash soup. It’s entirely vegan, and generally tastes “healthy” in the sense that you kind of wish it had a little more salt. None of it will blow your mind, but you also won’t leave with the overwhelming desire to take a long nap in a nearby park. And you’ll definitely get your daily serving of vegetables. 

We can’t promise you’ll never encounter quicksand or a dangerous banana peel in your future, but we can tell you that there may be some truth to the whole oasis fantasy. It might not come with palm trees and a giant lake, but it does come with an all-you-can-eat vegan buffet and a beautiful dining room.

Food Rundown

Casa De Luz image

photo credit: Nicolai McCrary

Daily Plate

The menu is posted each day online, so if you really want to, you can look things up in advance. But in general, each tray comes with a soup, a salad, and a plate with some form of rice, beans, and veggies. None of the dishes stand out on their own, but together make for a pretty solid and healthy meal.

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