Restaurants in Panama City
You won't go hungry in Panama City. The Central American hub is a rising culinary star, with a varied food scene including some fabulous North-American, Italian and Middle-Eastern options as well as plenty of Latin specialities. The restaurants favouring Panamanian-style cuisine are dominated by wonderfully fresh seafood. A number of elegant, gastronomic ventures can also be found in the Casco Viejo.
The Panama City restaurants below have been hand-picked by our guide author and are grouped into three pricing categories:
Expensive (over $40)
Moderate ($15 to $40)
Cheap (up to $15)
These Panama City restaurant prices are for an average three-course meal and for a bottle of house wine or cheapest equivalent per person. They include service charges and taxes but not tip. If the service is good in a restaurant, a 10% tip is customary. Tipping in cafés is not expected.
Manolo CaracolCuisine: International
Adored by locals and tourists alike, this legendary tapas joint serves a prix fixe five-course lunch and seven-course dinner that can't be beaten. The menu is always imaginative, and draws on both local and international culinary themes – but be prepared to eat whatever’s going, and not necessarily know what’s on your plate. It’s a laidback place, so be flexible.Address: , Avenida Central and Calle 3 Oeste, Panama City,
Telephone: + 507 228 4640.
Restaurante 1985Cuisine: French
Once known as the best restaurant in the city, Restaurante 1985 is a bit of a Panama City institution. It is run by Swiss chef Willy Diggelmann, who now owns five restaurants in Panama and is known for its exceptional cuisine, vast wine list and painfully high prices. Visit if your bank account can take a hit without flinching, otherwise you might feel a little let down.Address: , Chalet Suizo, Calle Eusebio A Morales, Panama City,
Telephone: + 507 263 8571.
Restaurante Las BóvedasCuisine: International
Arguably the most atmospheric restaurant in the city, this French-Latin fusion spot is housed in the vault of a centuries-old fort. Although it used to be a prison (Las Bovedas means ‘the vaults’), guests can expect gourmet cuisine rather than gruel. Theoretically it offers seafood with a French twist, but the chefs don’t mind throwing in a steak or two. Worth a visit for its history alone, its location in the Casco Viejo is gorgeous too.Address: , Plaza de Francia, Panama City,
Telephone: + 507 228 8058.
Las ClementinasCuisine: Panamanian
For an introduction to Panama's culinary melting pot, Las Clementinas in the Casco Viejo is a great, relaxed option. With contemporary takes on traditional dishes using local ingredients, much of which come from the restaurant's own garden and the restaurant's menu often features lots of ambitious creations. There's an excellent ropa vieja, which means ‘old clothes’, and consists of shredded meat, black beans, rice and plantain. Expect quality comfort food with Caribbean and Latin flavours that will keep you going through a long day of exploring the city.Address: Casco Viejo, Calle 11 & Avenida B , Panama City,
Telephone: + 507 228 7613.
Rene CafeCuisine: Panamanian
In the lower end of the mid-range bracket lies Rene Cafe, which serves up international cuisine. Its draw is the fixed price menus: five-courses at lunch, seven at dinner. What makes it most interesting, though, is the daily changing menu, with chefs serving whatever is available at the market that day. With such a great location, food and service, it’s best to book in advance.
Address: Casco Viejo, Calle Pedro J Sossa, Panama City,
Telephone: + 507 262 3487.
Central America may not be renowned for decent sushi but Sake breaks the mould. Located in the Torre de las Americas building, there’s sushi, sashimi and a host of rolls on offer as well as a decent wine list. It’s definitely at the higher end of the range, but worth every penny if you’re craving some good raw fish.Address: , Torre de las Americas, near Multiplaza Mall, Panama City,
Telephone: + 507 301 7250.
Cafe Coca ColaCuisine: Panamanian
This place has a degree of fame in Panama City for allegedly being the first place to stock Coca Cola outside the US. It’s a very typical 'rice, beans and meat of the day' kind of a place, but the food is of a great standard and there’s plenty of it. As a typical local eatery, it's also great for people watching with women playing chess, men watching football and charmingly tough staff.Address: Casco Viejo, Avenida Central and Plaza Santa Ana, Panama City,
Leños & CarbonCuisine: International
Leños & Carbon is a Latin American chain specialising in steaks – and boy, do they do it well. The Panama City branch is particularly worthy of mention due to its superb location: on the Amador causeway with a view of the marina. The meat is perfectly cooked and there’s usually a lot of it, typically served with a salad. It gets very busy here, so be prepared for a wait.
Address: Amador Causeway, Centro Comercial Multiplaza, Panama City,
Telephone: +507 314 1650.
Mercado de MariscosCuisine: Panamanian
One essential stop while in Panama City is the fish market located by the coastal promenade known as Cinta Costera. There are several local restaurants here serving traditionally prepared seafood, including pescado frito (fried fish), deliciously fresh ceviche and even langoustines. For an authentic Panamanian Caribbean experience, don't miss this buzzing mercado (market), with great views of the Casco Viejo on one side and the financial district's soaring skyscrapers on the other.Address: Cinta Costera, Avenida Balboa and Calle 15 Este , Panama City,