Annie´s Dining Suggestions
Panama offers a wide choice of restaurants to suit everyone’s taste and budget. From great cuisine and international chefs to real Panamanian food experience. I love to eat and here are my suggestions to make your gastronomic experience in Panama City unforgettable.
IN PANAMA CITY:
AMERICAN TRADE HOTEL (Colonial Section of the City – American Trade Hotel) Offering sophisticated lunch and dinner menus offering local cuisine using fresh, local and seasonal products. This is great venue for groups. Panamanian Clara Icaza is the chef. Tel: +507 211 -2200
ATLANTIC & PACIFIC Co. (The Miraflores locks at the Panama Canal) with the best view in town overlooking the Panama Canal, this restaurant offers a delicious menu created by one of the best chefs of Panama Cuquita Arias. Fresh ingredients and Panamanian gourmet dishes. Open: Monday to Sunday Tel: +507-232-3120
LAS CLEMENTINAS BAR AND CAFE (Casco Antiguo) – The menu is best described as Panamanian classics lovingly updated and made with care. Each dish–from risotto con coco to ropa vieja–has been researched and refined to perfection by the Chef, who has created Panamanian food as it was meant to be, using fresh, local ingredients, many of which come right from Las Clementinas garden. Open: Monday to Saturday. Tel: +507-228-7613
CALIOPE (Casco Antiguo – Colonial Section of the City, Av. Central, Edificio Teatro Amador, 3rd floor) Casco Antiguo`s first farm to table dining, using fresh and local ingredients, the chef is very creative and the food is fantastic. My favorite is Cedula 3. Reservation is a must. Tel: +507 212 – 1565
INTIMO (Calle 27 Este, San Francisco) – Recently written up in the New York Times, this 20 seat restaurant provides unique dishes that have be created with local seasonal products. Tel: +507-388-1365
TANTALO KITCHEN (Casco Antiguo) – Offers an internationally inspired tapas-style menu with a Panamanian touch. Each dish is a creative combination of local meats, fish and vegetables with local, Mediterranean and Latin American influences. Open: Monday to Sunday. Tel: +507-262-4030
LAS BOVEDAS (Casco Antiguo) – Exclusive setting in the colonial part of the city. Good French cuisine with excellent atmosphere in the subterranean prison vaults said to have been used during the Spanish era. Try the soups, cream sauces and mushrooms. Seafood dishes are delicious. Friday and Saturday nights live jazz shows. Open: Monday to Saturdays. Tel: +507-229-80258
VINOTECA (Obarrio, Edificio de las Americas) This is one of my favorite Italian restaurants in Panama. It is a family business run by Chef Ciniglio and his daughter. You will feel at home while eat amazing combinations with excellent wines. Go for the chef recommendation. Open: Monday to Saturday. Tel: +507-223-7734
LAS TINAJAS (Bella Vista, Calle 51) – Rustic and charming ambiance, specializing in traditional Panamanian cuisine and folkloric shows. Try “pixbae crab salad” and “Tamal de Olla.” Nice typical desserts. My favorite: flan de coco. Open: Monday to Saturday. Tel: +507-263-7890
SAL SI PUEDES AT THE BRISTOL HOTEL – The creation of Panama´s renowned chef, Cuquita Arias. Panamanian gourmet made from the freshest native ingredients. Deserts to-die-for. Try the panamanian ceviche. Open: Everyday. Tel: +507-294-7890
MERCADO DEL MARISCOS – (Avenida Balboa & Cinta Costera) – The city fish market, is Panama City’s seafood haven and a paradise for seafood lovers. With over 70 stalls selling the country’s freshest produce, there are also stands serving some of the best ready-to-eat Panamanian ceviche. My favorite: Jumbo Shrimp cocktail and ceviche combinación. Open: daily.
LA POSTA: (Calle 49, Bella Vista) – A real secret, hidden away from the noise. It is in a house from the last century. Try the homemade bread and pasta, fresh seafood and my favorite El chuleton chiricano. This restaurant is an old and beautiful house with a very nice decoration. Open: Monday to Saturday. Tel: +507-269-1076
IL POMODORO (El Cangrejo) – In very nice outdoor ambience the restaurant offers a wide variety of Italian specialties, including pasta, pizza, meat and seafood dishes. Casual and pretty, with delightful internal patio setting. Finish up with the rum cake. The Wine Bar next door, by the same owner, is also one of Panama’s best wine & cheese spot. Open: Monday to Sunday. Tel: +507-269-5836
SIETE MARES (El Cangrejo) – Serves Atlantic and Pacific Ocean delicacies in a new and luxurious setting. Specializes in seafood and has an extensive wine list. Open: Monday to Sunday. Tel: +507-264-0144
MARTIN FIERRO (El Cangrejo) – Specializes in fresh Argentinean-style meats and seafood.
Dishes arrive at your table sizzling from the grill! Open: Monday to Sunday. Tel: +507-264-1927
LOS AÑOS LOCOS (San Francisco) – Specializes in fresh Argentinean-style meats. Dishes arrive at your table sizzling from the grill! If you like meat, try Entraña is a very good cut. Open daily. Tel: +507-226-6966
SEGUNDO MUELLE (San Francisco) – Specializes in fresh and Peruvian seafood. Delicious desserts, this is one of the best seafood restaurants of Panama. My favorite dishes here are La Causa and the peruvian cebiche. Open: Monday to Sunday. Tel: +507-391-9234
EGO/NARCISO (Old Quarters) – Fusion of Europe and Asian food. Very good for wine, drinks and tapas. The octopus is very good. Open daily. Tel; +507-262-2045
MAREA CEVICHE & LATIN FOOD (Multiplaza, Paitilla) specialties are ceviches and seafood and very good cocktails.
DONDE JOSE (Avenida Central y Calle A – Casco Antiguo) Panamanian food with a twist. If you want to try this restaurant we suggest you to reserve with one month in advance. Try the octopus, very good.
Open: Tuesday to Saturday. Tel: +507-262-1682
MADRIGAL (Casco Viejo) Very good and creative menu. The Spanish chef is fantastic and very good selection of wines. You will need a reservation in this place. Open: Monday to Saturday. Tel: +507-211-1956
CHALET SUIZO (Via Argentina) – A small, and intimate restaurant, specializes in a variety of Swiss dishes, Including: Raclette and Cheese Fondue, Wienerschnitzel, Sauerkraut, Sausages, Veal. The famous chef Willy Diggelmann assures that his Swiss dishes are unsurpassed. Open Monday to Sunday. Tel: +507-263-8571
MANOLO CARACOL (Casco Viejo) – A kitchen focused on the fresh, on the historic roots of his epicenter, the fisherman Barbate from his childhood in Spain, on the traveled and the lived, on the European, African, Asian and American influences, they all cook on the brain of Manuel Madueño, also known as Manolo Caracol. He produces food according with his feelings, on how he lives: generous of spirit, generous pockets, plenty of creativity, such as the tropic that hosts him.
MARKET (Calle 48, Marbella) – Market is one of the most popular restaurant in Panama City, providing a fresh selection of dishes to serve a wide variety of tastes. From a quick business lunch of hamburgers and wraps to a night out for premium grade steak and a bottle of wine, you’re guaranteed to experience a delicious meal in a lively setting. My favorites: BBQ Baby Back Ribs and the sliders.
MAITO (Via Cincuentenario y final de Calle 50) – An old house converted into a modern restaurant. It offers a great atmosphere, delightful cuisine, and extremely accommodating service. My choice here are Rissotto Colon and Calamares Rellenos.
HUMO (San Francisco Calle 50 y Calle 70) The atomsphere is billed as southern smokehouse BBQ. The food and service are excellent. My recommendation is the brisket. If you like BBQ this is one of the best places in Panama. Also for vegetarians the veggie burger is excellent. Many choices as the lobster taco on season one of my favorite. Reservation is a must.
MASALA (Bella Vista, entre Calle 44 y 45) – Great Indian food and if you are vegetarian this is a very good option. Here my options are Mango Lassi and Butter chicken.
THE GARDEN 2112 (Calle 48, Uruguay) – A new Thai restaurant with a wide selection of dishes and beautiful decoration. The staff is friendly and chef is from Thailandia.
THE CORNER 76 (Cale 76 San Francisco, next to supermercado El Rey) – This is a great places for burgers. Nice ambience, great service and excellent quality.
PATAGONIA GRILL (Via Cincuentenario y Calle 4ta Sur – San Francisco – Panamá) – One of my favorite places to eat a good steak. Their specialty is the Argentine Parrillada with great cuts of meats. If you are vegetarian… don´t go!
MATSUEI (Eusebio A. Morales 12A) Matsuei is my favorite japanese restaurant in Panama and one of finest sushi and raw fish experiences. They offer a varied of Imported fish from unagi (eel) to maguro (tuna). The owner is an excellent chef and always welcoming new guests.
Restaurants outside Panama City:
LOS CAMISONES (Pass Coronado and Santa Clara Beaches and you will find the entrance on your right.) – Seafood specialists. Try the shrimps with garlic sauce and coconut rice. Delicious!
CASA DE LOURDES (El Valle) – One of Panama City’s best chefs (Golosinas Restaurant) has created an Itialian villa weekend retreat in the “hill station” of El Valle de Anton. The food is rich, inventive, nouvelle gourmet with wonderful Panamanian accents. Excellent wine selection and an experience not to be missed as you dine poolside with Lourdes.
EL SITIO-(Playa Venao, Pedasi) – Very good atmosphere, beach front and one of the best restaurants in the area. Their specialty is Octopus Pad Thai, not to be missed.
CUATRO (David) – a place of unique flavor in Chiriqui province. A Panamanian style food with a touch of quality. Try the ribs, fresh tuna among other options.
ESA FLACA RICA (David) If you love burgers like me, this stree car is an excellent choice. Open from 5.00PM to 10.00PM and with locations in Costa del Este Panama and David, Chiriqui.
PANAMONTE (Boquete) – This charming restaurant is one of the best in the highlands. Inventive dishes based on traditional Panamanian cuisine include pumpkin soup, shrimp-and-plantain croquettes, mountain trout sauteed with almonds, and grilled beef tenderloin topped with a three-pepper sauce. It’s served in a historic European atmosphere that’s hardly changed over the past century. Sunday breakfast is popular. My favorite: Egg Benedict with Panamanian Tortilla.
THE ROCK (Boquete) – A very nice atmosphere and different options. Ribs and burgers are very good and the garlic soup not to miss.
EL PIANISTA (Boquete) – An Italian in the highlands offers a wide selection of dishes. Pizzas, Parmesan eggplant, risottos and more. The ambience is nice, close to a river and with a good selection of wines.
GUARI GUARI (Bocas del Toro) – This restaurant should not be missed while visiting Bocas! It is not easy to find but the food is very good!
THE FIREFLY RESTAURANT & BAR (Isla Bastimentos, Bocas del Toro) beautiful and romantic ambience and you will need reservation. It is a tapas style and my favorite is the ahi seared tuna and the prawn skweres and very good cocktails.
Nightlife in Panama City – Bars
Casco Viejo is the place to go at night in Panama City. Stroll in the cobblestone streets at night and you can discover always a new fun place. Also, explore the City and the new breweries that are popping up in different neighborhoods.
Below some of my favorites places.
GATTO BLANCO (Casco Viejo) This is one of my favorite little bars in Casco. Located at the rooftop of Casa Nurati Hotel you can find this rooftop that offers a great view of Panama Skyline and a relax setting.
DIVINO ENOTECA (Casco Viejo) – Opened by three friends united by the same passion for wine, DiVino Enoteca specializes in serving quality, international wines. The bar hosts educational tasting nights for those interested in boosting their wine knowledge and offers tapas style plates with an Italian touch.
TANTALO (Casco Viejo) Located at the roof top of Tantalo Hotel, this small rooftop bar has nice views of the City skyline and the old Quarters. Very nice ambience and usually good DJs. The drinks are a bit expensive.
BARLOVENTO (Casco Viejo). The good thing is that the entrance is free for women. This is a relaxed bar that offers views of Casco Viejo at night and a nice screen. Nice ambience and good for dancing.
CASA JAGUAR (Casco Viejo) Another bar that is usually free for girls. A very nice ambience, good music, excellent drinks, but a bit pricy.
RELIC BAR (Casco Viejo) Located in the bottom floor of Luna Castle Hostel, this rustic bar offers an indoor and outdoor areas. Indoor, depending on the hour of arrival, it might be crowded and the music is loud. Outdoor it´s more relax, offering tables and chairs so you can sit, talk and have some drinks. This is a laidback place where backpackers and a young crowd hangs out.
1400 ROOFTOP BAR (Blue Bay Hotel in Obarrio) From 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm they have promotions in Champagne and Sushi. After 9:00 pm, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday they offer a variety of music. They have an outdoor area.
EL SOTANO/EL APARTAMENTO (Casco Viejo) Location: Bella Vista. Entry fee: Depends on the event. In El Sotano you can find live rock music and by going up the stair you arrive to El Apartamento where you can find indie music and have some drinks. They have several events during the month with themes or even special DJs.
Beer Bars in Panama City
Some of these bars offer local craft beers, national beers and original house brew beers.
CASA BRUJA (Costa del Este) This is a brewing company that produces very good beers ince 2013. They create quality and very different beers. My favorite LA FULA!
LA RANA DORADA (Casco Viejo and Avenida Eloy Alfaro and Calle 11) – A very original pub offers good homemade local beers. The brewery, which can be glimpsed from the interior of the restaurant, adds to Rana Dorada’s beer-themed décor with its soft, yellow-painted walls and classic wooden furniture. Along with an appetising food menu offering finger foods, pizza and more recently ceviche, the pub serves premier pilsner, pale ale, blanche and porter beer, all brewed in-house.
THE BREW STOP (Calle Andres Mojica & San Francisco) This pub is great for beer lovers, good ambience, excellent selection of local and international beers and my favorite, good apple cider.
ISTMO BREW PUB (Condado del Rey, San Francisco y el Cangrejo) They offer entertainment (pool table), food and a wide variety of local, crafted and international beers.