Clearly the best dining experience my group had was at Manolo Caracol in Casco Viejo. This fixed price establishment with no set menu was a real treat. After being seated, the waiter asked us if we had any food allergies. Shortly after, plate after plate of delicious tapas were brought to the table. There were ten courses in all, each one presented beautifully. Most of the dishes involved seafood but there were a couple meat dishes included. After each plate, we anxiously awaited the surprise that was coming next.
Our first dishes were a succulent beef bone marrow topped with caramelized onions followed by salmon spring rolls. It was a great start to the meal.
My second favorite dish of the night, the patacón topped with shrimp, was next. Then came a fish soup that I didn’t care too much for. It wasn’t bad but I could’ve done without it.
My absolute favorite dish came fifth. It was a perfectly grilled octopus with whole egg yolk.
Delicious ceviche, tasty salad, and hearty ravioli dishes followed. They were all excellent, but after the octopus it felt like a slight step down.
The second to last dish was a plate of tamales filled with rice and beef. I didn’t care much for them, either.
We finished the meal with a nice bread pudding.
Overall, I was happy with every dish except the fish soup and tamales. The rest were better than I could have imagined. It’s best to go into the experience having no expectation at all. The offerings change nightly, so I can imagine being pleasantly surprised during every visit.
I highly recommend visiting Manolo Caracol. If you have one restaurant to choose in Panama City, especially as a seafood lover, this should be it. The food and service were both excellent. The meal ended up costing about US$60 per person after drinks and tip.