La Cruz Party in the Plaza a Huge Success

Marc Murphy - CVB of Riviera Nayarit
November 10, 2012

This event showcased restaurants, musicians, artists and businesses from throughout the Bahia de Banderas and the Riviera Nayarit. The Bay's top restaurants offered their signature dishes for sale.

Visitors from Guadalajara, Tepic, and throughout the entire Banderas Bay enjoyed a stroll through the newly renovated Plaza Benito Juarez, the people, the music, the food, the commerce and the ambiance of the real Mexico in the "hidden jewel" of the Riviera Nayarit: La Cruz de Huanacaxtle.

The previous event was held at the end of July, and the summer was in full swing. I went with my husband then and we enjoyed 3 hours of food, imported wines, cigars and music. This year, we brought a group of friends with us: Placed under the shade of Huanacaxtle Trees, the Plaza Principal de la Cruz is a small, groomed lush park, with a gazebo in the middle and a canopy of huge branches of these majestic, hundreds of years old, trees.

This November 3rd weekend started gray & mute. Uncharacteristically for November in Riviera Nayarit, the rain, which  was supposed to leave us in October, came back and surprised us with an afternoon shower. On Saturday morning, the inhabitants woke up to a gray day, not quite warm and not quite chilly, something in between.

We did our way to La Cruz, the short drive from Nuevo Vallarta takes 10 minutes and right after Bucerias the road curves up to the left, spreading Banderas Bay on full display.

La Cruz is a small town, not much happens there during the weekend, or the week, for that matter but it has a devoted following of ex-pats, snow birds, retirees, young Bohemian Mexicans and people who drop by from the Marina, on their way to somewhere else, make for an eclectic mix, in the better sense of the word.

I was keen to try the new cuisine, showcased by some of the best restaurants around, at a special taste menus & prices. Our Friend Atina, who is French, wanted to taste International Food around here. Dario just wanted to unwind from a long work week, and was happy to stroll around in the small plaza without any special purpose, absorbing the smells, and Jonathans wanted "to spend the weekend in a traditional Mexican town by the beach." Having lived all his life in Big cities he was curious as to the charm which attracted us here and made us stay and make Banderas bay our home.

It was 4:00 pm when we arrived at the plaza; the first trickles of people already have showed up, including a van that emptied a party of 8. They were all dressed with care and you could see they're well-to-do and I was curious about what they would think about the food and the location. I decided I'll sneak in on their conversation later and listen to what they had to say. Nothing like the unfiltered opinion of unsuspecting first time visitors.

After a walk around we decided there is enough potential to go over the ticket booth and form a line. The last time, half of the restaurants ran out of food an hour into the event which had left me with an unfulfilled, salivating palate. I swore this year it will not happen.

Well, this year, no one ran out of food nor was the ticket booth necessary; all the restaurants took cash. First stop were the BBQ Ribs at the Tortuga Beach Restaurant booth. Heavenly and cocked to perfection and they quickly made us forget little else but gasp in pleasure.

Dario ordered German Sausage and mashed potatoes from the La Cruz based German "Black Forest" restaurant. The reviews were excellent. Creamy and savory to measure.

Then I tried a vegetarian dish, fried vegetable balls with purple cabbage and sweet & sour mango sauce and Atina came back with Spancopita: A Greek spinach and fete cheese pie in filo pastry.

We ate at the table zone, a hand reach from the display of the booths and their food. The atmosphere was that of a neighborhood party, people greeting each other, clicking beers and wine glasses, laughter.

The park's benches were dotted with eating couples, kids ran around on the grass, local families sold Tamales y Atole on the sidewalks around the plaza and salsa music filled the air. A Cuban band was entertaining on a stage nearby, and a crowd formed. There was dancing, guided by the pretty girls who taught them the steps.

We walked around some more and I spotted the Well-To-Do Group from earlier. They were crowded around a real estate stand. Just as I was trying to sneak by them, Jonathan declared he would never stop loving the city but that this was a "Charming Vacation", Atina deemed the food "Was good" by her strict French standards and Dario enjoyed himself.
The group moved along to the next booth, the Privet Hospital stand, it was advertising Cosmetic procedures and they were vigorously inquiring, so I took a card and eased away. Never know when you'll need a tummy tuck from visiting too many food festivals.

It was dusk by now, and the shadows beginning to deep. The salsa band was announcing it to be their last song and invited everyone to continue the fiesta in a nearby restaurant. Everyone we run into were discussing dessert.  
Two more Espressos, Jell-O-Shots of Coffee, grown organically on the mountains up by Tepic, and we were ready to call it an evening.

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