Cruza Arepa bar

Get the latest from Beat

Cruza Arepa bar


Our owner Eyal teeters about his surrounds, tattered hat on head, and positively spewing goodwill. You get the impression our Latin American host would be shoe-less and rocking shorts, health regulations allowing. His kitchen boasts hearty Latin American meals, cocktails and tapas. It’s Mexican’s food’s younger, more gregarious cousin and if Cruzao’s broad spread of families, couples and sociable youngsters that pack the bar is any indication, it’s soon going to become our favourite.

Tangy and uncharacteristically juicy mojitos are complimented by a colourful spectrum of tapas, most exciting of whichare the tequenos (a crunchy, floury variation of Gods gastronomical gift unto Earth – mozzarella sticks) and banana and feta fritters (tostones) that our kindly staff insist are to be devoured sans cutlery.

Cruzao’s point of pride however are their arepas, the cornbread alternative to the traditional kebab. Doughy cornbread pockets are filled liberally with shredded beef, sweet chili chicken, blackbeans or haloumi and washed down with reasonably priced regional beers. With an abundance of understated corn and avocado tones, liberal application of chili is highly recommended. It provides the bite that a lot of dishes seem to be missing, and is of course, cohesive to our faux-tropical clime.

And just as the corn bread inevitably starts to stake its claim on our gasping guts, a mariachi three-piece ensemble arrives to ease it down. The band, much like our dishes, is eager with gusto and delight their audience with variations on the classics. And suddenly it seems the band have transformed our family restaurant into a hip Fitzroy bar, as mesmerized onlookers -allured by live performance- shuffle eagerly into our world. Things get a little chaotic during the transition. My only wish is that Cruzao were granted to space to finally balance the restaurant and bar hats it so desperately juggles. Then it may truly be allowed to thrive and become the Brunswick St institution it deserves to be.