A Unique Dining Experience

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.

Beef bone marrow with caramelized onions at Manolo Caracol in Casco Viejo, Panama City

Beef bone marrow with caramelized onions

Salmon spring rolls at Manolo Caracol in Casco Viejo, Panama City

Salmon spring rolls

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.

Shrimp on patacón at Manolo Caracol in Casco Viejo, Panama City

Shrimp on patacón

Fish soup at Manolo Caracol in Casco Viejo, Panama City

Fish soup

My absolute favorite dish came fifth. It was a perfectly grilled octopus with whole egg yolk.

Octopus and egg yolk at Manolo Caracol in Casco Viejo, Panama City

Octopus and 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.

Ceviche at Manolo Caracol in Casco Viejo, Panama City

Ceviche

Salad at Manolo Caracol in Casco Viejo, Panama City

Salad

Ravioli at Manolo Caracol in Casco Viejo, Panama City

Ravioli

The second to last dish was a plate of tamales filled with rice and beef. I didn’t care much for them, either.

Tamales filled with rice and beef at Manolo Caracol in Casco Viejo, Panama City

Tamales filled with rice and beef

We finished the meal with a nice bread pudding.

Bread pudding at Manolo Caracol in Casco Viejo, Panama City

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.

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