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Top Panama City Restaurants Worth a Visit

SeafoodSome may be surprised to find out that Panama City is known in some quarters as the “Seafood capital of the world.” However, one taste of one of their scrumptious delicacies and visitors will undoubtedly learn why.

Yes, the food in Panama tends to be good and quite inexpensive. Prices vary enormously, as do the menus and conventions. Still, seafood is of course almost always a speciality. Here, we present the five most popular and most loved restaurants within the country.

1. La Casa del Marisco


La Casa del Marisco is a well-established restaurant founded all the way back in 1965. Today, La Casa del Marisco is one of the most recognised and well-loved restaurants in all of Panama. La Casa del Marisco is a family business, where all clients are personally attended to by members of the Acha family.

According to the family, “the major purpose of La Casa del Marisco is to offer the best food to all its customers,” and for that reason, all products are selected daily by their owners.

Seafood is especially popular here. Their best dishes include various fish fillets as well as lobster dressed meals. Highlights include red snapper, salad with jicama and roast pumpkin seeds and, for dessert, a dizzy-good cajeta (caramel) with sea salt.

Without exaggeration, La Casa del Marisco is famous worldwide as the best restaurant in Panama City and ranked as one of the best in the world.

2. Restaurante L'Osteria


A current hot spot in a new boutique hotel, this Italian-run brick bistro is simply wonderful, especially if visitors order smartly. With hybrid Italian-Panamanian menus, Restaurante L'Osteria remains true to its name.

From crusted cheese rice balls to leafy green salads, L'Osteria makes a nice start to a wonderful vacation.

Other highlights include their Gnocchi with fresh ricotta and percorino cheese, unusual pastas and well-priced arugula pizzas. Of note, one downside may be hiccups in service depending on the number of guests present.

3. Sukhi


Sukhi is a new Southeast Asian restaurant and is the favourite of many people for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is said that the restaurant is very consistent in its quality offerings.

Like La Casa del Marisco, Sukhi is a family run restaurant with a pleasant and helpful staff who are always willing to answer inquiries or chat with visitors. In fact, even the chef goes to great lengths to procure the best and most authentic ingredients to suit their guests.

Special dishes include their Thai curry, which may be had with meat or vegetables, as well as their Chicken risotto. Sukhi’s is also well liked for its tangerine and white colour scheme that gives a pleasantly bright glow. However, their tall chairs and tables make it unfeasible for many, i.e., toddlers or the disabled.

4. Maito


With luxury style and top-class pedigree, Maito toys with the classics, tinkering in everyday Caribbean, Latin and even Chinese influences, creating food that is uniquely Panamanian.

Despite the fact that the street is lined with countless other eateries, Maito enjoys the benefits of giving visitors a wonderful experience. As an example, there's an outdoor garden seating area and the service known to be impeccable.

Visitors might want to start with a Watermelon Waldorf salad. Ribs glazed in passion fruit prove tender and succulent while the Duck Chow Mein are known for their crunchy crispness. Seafood risotto in squid ink proves divine as well.

5. René Cafe


If nothing else, Rene Café’s location is simply unbeatable. Perched underneath the shadows of the Iglesia Catedral and overlooking the Plaza de la Independencia, this relative newcomer is primed to become one of the most popular restaurants in the city.

The major separating factor is the fact that the René Café emphasizes dishes of an international nature, infusing traditional Panamanian favourites with influences as broad as Pan-Asian and Continental cuisine to create some truly unique tapas.

The restaurant is especially rising quickly as it draws on the successes of Manolo Caracol. René Cafe also offers pre-fixed five-course lunches and seven-course dinners that change daily.

Panama’s restaurant scene is rapidly changing and the best restaurants in Panama City vary from year to year. Indeed, restaurants in the top three list may freely rotate during the year.

This may be due to the season or due to the simple fact that new and better options bump them down. Whichever it is, any restaurant on this list promises the appease the taste buds and provide an experience of true Panamanian culinary art.
Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas.

 > Category: Restaurants   

February 14, 2014
Visitors may be surprised to find out that Panama City is known in some quarters as the “Seafood capital of the world.”"/>

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