By Ashley Mackin | SDUN Editor
Vegan restaurant and cooking school Casa de Luz has recently taken root in North Park, and hosts their grand opening on Thursday, May 17. The restaurant is the brainchild of Eduardo Longoria and his father, who opened the original Casa de Luz in Austin, Texas.
The decision to open the North Park location came after Longoria’s exploration of using food as medicine.
Longoria said he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2003, a nerve disorder caused by inflammation whose muscular symptoms include spasms, difficulty walking or moving one’s arms. Longoria said the medication he was taking was not helping. Wanting to take action to improve his health, he looked into a macrobiotic diet, which emphasizes whole grains, beans and vegetables, and how he could use food to help heal his body and control his symptoms.
“When I got diagnosed, it was a real eye opener because I’ve always considered myself very healthy.…” Longoria said. “When I got diagnosed, my body just wasn’t working… but at the same time… it has gotten me to completely redirect my life and do very different things from what I was doing.”
Heeding his father’s advice to use food as medicine, Longoria said he traveled and learned about macrobiotic philosophies in Amsterdam, Italy and France. Macrobiotic diets are sometimes used by people with cancer and chronic diseases because of its low-fat content and high doses of fiber and micronutrients.
“What’s ironic is its always been right under my nose with my father [and his restaurant],” he said.
After studying macrobiotic eating and how to cook foods similar to those on the menu at the Texas Casa de Luz, Longoria decided to open a location in San Diego.
The menu is created daily based on the selection of organic vegetables arriving daily from local San Diego farms. All the food on the menu is organic and vegan.
While originally critiquing the food at his father’s location, Longoria said he used his father’s restaurant as inspiration to make his food flavorful. “My problem is I love the food so much, I tend to overeat there,” he said.
In addition to being a restaurant, Casa de Luz has partnered with the University of California, San Diego’s Center for Integrative Medicine to create a school inside Casa de Luz to train faculty doctors, students and the community.
The Center for Integrative Medicine utilizes alternative treatments, including yoga, acupuncture, massage and macrobiotic eating. They will be hosting cooking classes and lessons on how food can help the body heal. They will also host speakers at the restaurant.
A class is planned to discuss autoimmune diseases, such as MS, and Longoria said he hopes his story will help.
Since he assumed the macrobiotic lifestyle, Longoria said his “symptoms are absolutely going down,” adding he gets one or fewer flare-ups yearly, which are instances of extreme symptom expression that can deter a person’s ability to walk. Prior to the new lifestyle, Longoria said he would get two flare-ups a year.
On Thursday, May 17, Casa de Luz will host a grand opening celebration at 2920 University Ave. The celebration will be from 6 to 9 p.m. and will feature free organic beer and wine tastings, samples of the restaurant’s food, raffles, music and the opportunity to see the restaurant and school. The location is open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.