Panama: a new gastronomic destination

By:  Annie Young J.

There is definitely a connection between tourism and gastronomy and the trend of foodie travelers experimenting the local tastes during their adventure travel is growing worldwide.

Panama is a destination that has it all and our gastronomic experience is motivating more travelers to come back to savor our tropical cuisine.  More and more foodies from around the world are amazed by our culinary variety and exploring the city becomes an adventure.

From eating ceviche at the local Fish Market, going for tapas and cocktails in a rooftop in Casco Viejo to more elaborated dishes from local chefs in Downtown Panama City.

Panama’s local gastronomy infused with fresh local produce, seafood, and other unique ingredients are competing against other great well known culinary destinations in Latin America.

There is a new generation of chefs (Jose Carles, Mario Castrellon, and Chombolin) that are determined to make Panama one of the most innovative cuisine destinations of the region.

Donde Jose and Intimo are two of the best gastronomic experiences in Panama. Both chefs are constantly developing new recipes and techniques using local and native ingredients with a tropical twist. Their clientele including me enjoys trying new flavors and combinations. Both restaurants have won international recognition.  If you are in Panama, experience a gastronomic tour for the senses.

For more details on our gastronomic adventures, contact us at info@ecocircuitos.com

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My Internship At EcoCircuitos

By Rafaelle Capamolla

Time flies, and so did my time here in Panama. I remember like it was yesterday, when I arrived the 16th of January 2017 to this beautiful country. The 6th of February then started a new chapter in my life: my internship with EcoCircuitos for 6 months.

 

 

Of course, at the beginning it’s a little challenge: You come to a new country, with a different culture, and when you arrive you don’t know anybody. It’s not like when you travel and you just stay for a couple of days in the same place. You live the same way, take the same bus, and eat the same thing as the local people, for a longer period of time. And this is in fact an adventure, and you have to be willing to change your habits and adapt to new cultures. I didn’t have issues with that, and as Panamanians are very friendly and helpful, it was even easier.

My experience with EcoCircuitos was very enriching and I enjoyed very much working for this great company. I could develop new skills and learn a lot about the tourism industry and the work of a local Tour Operator. EcoCircuitos also gave me the chance to bring my own ideas, to show creativity and to manage Marketing campaigns on my own. In a small Company you get the chance to see and work directly with all the departments Accounting, Reservations, Sales and Operations, from which I learned a lot for my future career too. The fact that EcoCircuitos gave me the chance to explore this beautiful country made my internship even more exciting.

As I had the chance to travel with EcoCircuitos, I can really say that you don’t simply offer vacations, but experiences, memories that will stay in your heart forever, encounters with local and indigenous people that made me feel at home, sharing the living and culinary traditions. The whole team and the local guides put so much passion and authenticity in the work their doing, that I really feel like I am taking a piece of Panama with me to Switzerland.

Thank you very much EcoCircuitos for this opportunity and the great experience, you will definitely stay in my heart!

 

 

 

Gastronomy experience in Panama

By Juliette Darmon

There is no culture without gastronomy!

But too often and unfortunately, people tend to think that a gastronomy tour vulgarly means eating all day…

But here is the mistake! Gastronomy fully takes part of a cultural journey!
It’s a real rich and unmissable experience for a complete trip!

Of course the main goal of a gastronomic tour is making you tasting the best, traditional and local products and specialties of the country, but it also means showing you a cultural area of the city and the best places and locations to discover this culture, some typical and hidden sites you wouldn’t have thought about.

A gastronomic tour is also learning more about the culture, and your passionate guide will follow you throughout the itinerary. It’s a real adventure unlike a lot of people can think!

More than just tasting in our Panama Gastronomy experience, you will learn about how traditional dishes and local products as chocolate, coffee or honey are made and their whole process, and you will even have the possibility to visit some factories!

You could admire the view on the extensive skyline of Panama City while trying a ceviche at the Mercado de mariscos or the famous “raspado” on the Cinta Costera.

To end your culinary tour in the capital you may get on a guided tour through the microbrewery and taste some of their beer specialties. Also if time permits you could visit a Rum factory to try the artisanal Panamanian rum.

One day or one week, a culinary journey can be fascinating and so rewarding!

Out of the city, in the Azuero Peninsula you could so visit a local Rum factory, learning about the complete process of rum production – from harvesting the sugarcane until tasting the golden liquid. Then enjoy discovering the manufacturing processes of the traditional products of the Herrera Province: sugarcane, salt, clay and bread. In addition, you will have the chance to lodge in an eco coffee farm in the Boquete province.

The day after you will visit the coffee plantations and learn about the complete process of making coffee before tasting it at the end of the tour while enjoying an extensive view on the surrounding highlands.

Once the coffee tour ended, you will go on a local honey plant located on a small farm in the highlands of Boquete to end with a world-class honey tasting.

And what’s better than ending by a tour in the jungle to visit the Embera community and trying their fresh fish lunch?
In case you were skeptical, you are now aware of what does a gastronomic tour mean, and that is not just “stuffing” yourself with food…

So book a culinary tour now with EcoCircuitos to get into the Panamanian culture!

PANAMANIAN BUFFET AT THE CANAL

By Juliette Darmon

What a pleasant moment to share a brunch-buffet on Sundays with the Canal view at Miraflores Locks!

Every Sunday, near the Ciudad del Saber, close to the city, you could have the opportunity to savor a complete buffet, homemade food, natural juices, cocktails and so on at the Miraflores restaurant.

NEW OPENING: Brunch de la Taquilla

A fresh event has been opened this last Sunday! And what an event!

5 Panamanians famous Chefs of the city came to cook and organize a typical Panamanian brunch-buffet! For $48 per person from 11.30am to 4.30pm, you could eat freely and drink as many Panamanian cocktails as you want! A real friendly atmosphere, food and service of quality, you will find something for every taste: appetizers, salads, seafood, fish, grilled meat, paella, fresh fruits, deserts, fresh juices, Panamanian cocktails bars.  This event will be only one time per month but it is really worth it!

Moreover, it is really interesting to see the chefs in front of you cooking your French toasts, explaining what you could find in each cooked dishes, and discussing with them about their experiences!

If you are not that hungry and you are more looking for chilling in this place for the view while tasting the buffet, you will also have the possibility to share a common plate for $25, and choosing what do you want with the waiter, just once, with one cocktail.

Enjoy the canal and locks view, go to the terrace and visit the museum to understand how does it work after your brunch!

For more information contact us: info@ecocircuitos.com

 

 

Let yourself be surprised by a fresh new chocolate experience!

By Juliette Darmon

In the middle of the authentic and historic quarter of Panama, El Casco Antigo, is hidden a fresh start tropical chocolate coffee.

Passionate by chocolate or just thirst for the country discovery, you will be able to taste some 100% artisan and natural chocolates, 100% made in Panama. The team will be pleased to explain you the chocolate process from its fermentation to its finish.

Fermented in Bocas del Toro, in the north west of the country, the cacao is afterwards naturally dried and then carried until Panama, where it is transformed in this delicious natural chocolate that you can taste at Oro Moreno.

It is also possible for you to visit the chocolate factory located in Panama, in order to better understand the transformation process.

Numerous and different flavors will surprise you.

From the amazing and smooth “maracuja chocolate”, going through the original and uncommon coriander chocolate or chili chocolate, or even the delicious Panamanian coffee chocolate, like me, it will be quite hard for you to stop…! And many other surprises await you.

Its authenticity, its bright color, but also its uncommon design, will incite you to not taste only one…! Served with a yummy cappuccino, expresso or hot chocolate, the artistic waiters will amazed you by writing your name or designing animals in your drink. You will also have the chance to taste their famous “fondue de chocolat” offered with fruits.

Ideal for small groups or couples, you will be immersed in a warm, friendly and relaxing atmosphere. You will be able to admire some crafts entirely made in chocolate, and even to buy some “bombones” or other chocolates to bring to your loved ones.

We offer chocolate tasting in partnership with this amazing boutique store.  Precisely with the help of our guides team, you will learn to taste and enjoy the chocolate purity by some specific technics.

Like Ecocircuitos, Oro Moreno proudly believes in the value of products which come out of the land. In this atypical showroom, you will become aware of the value and the strength that producers and manufacturers provide to the national economy.   In partnership with Oro Moreno, EcoCircuitos is the first tour operator in Panama to offer chocolate tours in the area.  Contact us for more information and private tours.

www.ecocircuitos.com

info@ecocircuitos.com

Where to Eat and Drink in Panama?

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

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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.

 

New Coffee Farm: Finca Ceriana

Strategically located between the highlands and lowlands of Chiriquí, Finca Ceriana forms part of a privately protected area for the conservation of flora and fauna in the region.

One of Finca Ceriana’s unique characteristics is the number of bird species and other animals from the upper and lower mountain areas. The property is part of the biological corridor that hosts the famous volcano lagoons and a large variety of animal and plant species. Apart from being an important migration zone for birds, the biological corridor of the lagoons and Finca Ceriana is vital for the wellbeing of the protected areas of La Amistad International Park and Baru Volcano National Park. 

The farm offers its visitors easy nature trails for outdoor activities and particularly bird watching, a unique canopy tower, gourmet picnic, sugar cane mill and much more. The total area counts 10 hectares of protected land and nearly 3 kilometers of nature trails, in addition to one of the most beautiful views to Costa Rica’s Golfo Dulce and Osa peninsula as well as to Punta Burica in Panama.