There are so many great places to eat in Panama City that it was impossible for me to cover all the places I had hoped to visit. This post will cover everywhere I had a chance to eat. For my entry on Panama City’s nightlife and bars, click here.
In Casco Viejo
First, let’s focus on the Casco Viejo area, which is Panama City’s old town. There are some incredible places located there. There are several traditional Panamanian restaurants serving food at reasonable to touristy prices along with some international cuisine mixed in. The best restaurant we ate at was Manolo Caracol, which you can read about here.
For a great lunch of gourmet soups, salads, and deli sandwiches, Super Gourmet is the place to go. They also have all day breakfasts and free wifi. I paid US$8 for one of the best sandwiches I could imagine and a good drink. This is a good place to go if you’re on a budget but still looking for quality food.
A Casco Viejo classic is Café Coca-Cola. This gritty diner, complete with sassy waitresses, has been a local favorite since 1875, making it the oldest café in Panama City. It’s located in a bit of a rough area but worth a visit to get a real authentic local experience. You can get a meal from US$2 and up.
In El Cangrejo
The El Cangrejo area is a heavily residential area with some hotels and lots of restaurants and bars to choose from. Just up and down Via Argentina you’ll probably find the type of cuisine you’re looking for and on any budget. I wish I had more time to sample more of the restaurants in the area.
If you’re looking for sushi, Tsugoi in El Cangrejo was excellent. Service was a bit slow but I really enjoyed all of the rolls I ordered. My favorite was the signature Tsugoi roll (pictured on the right). My meal plus a drink, dessert, and tip cost US$42.
For gourmet pasta and pizza, try Zulé. This Italian restaurant had very friendly service and even better food. I paid US$20 for a thick and creamy tomato soup, pasta, and a drink.
A greasy spoon 24 hour diner with a huge menu, Restaurante y Cafetería Del Prado serves up just about anything you can crave. Food quality was fair and service was slow and a little edgy, but if nothing else is open, this is pretty much the only choice.
Niko’s Café is a cafeteria style restaurant with Greek, Panamanian, and international food. It’s open 24 hours and there are several locations around town. I ate at the one in El Cangrejo. I paid US$8 for a gyro combo and rice pudding. It was ok, I’ve had much better for a lower price in Chicago.
Aires del Mediterraneo
Aires del Mediterraneo is a Spanish restaurant near the Marriott Hotel. They have very good food, especially the paella, but avoid the ceviche.
Finally, Mi Ranchito, located on the Amador Causeway, is a popular Panamanian restaurant. Reasonably priced seafood and meat dishes populate the menu. Service is excellent and the food is delicious.