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GOURMET – Fine restaurants in Panama City
Panama City is cosmopolitan and so offers a wide choice of restaurants of nearly every ethnic variety and to suit everyone’s taste and pocket. On the opposite page is a list of some of the finer restaurants and a “ready reference” guide to their specialties and other details.
In the paragraphs that follow, we offer a brief description of some of the restaurants, which will assist your choice.
Primera calle a la entrada de la Calzada de Amador
“Same old Place, Brand new Fun” Celebrating 100 years of operation in 2014, the legendary Balboa Yacht Club offers the best views of the Panama Canal. If you are new to Panama this is the one place you need to visit in order to admire the Panama Canal up close and enjoy good food and cold beers. If you are returning to Panama after many years, chances are you will find your old friends hanging out on the deck at the Balboa Yacht Club, or dancing to live music on Friday nights.
The Club specializes in American food made fresh every day and offers selected Panamanian dishes like fried Corvina and patacones. On weekends fresh game fish such as maji maji, grouper, tuna is on offer, as well as steak house specials.
Since 1914 The famous Balboa Yacht Club has seen off fishing expeditions of legendary adventurers such as Teddy Roosevelt, Ike Eisenhower, John Wayne and the famed Zane Gray. Today it still the best place for transient yachts to take mooring and spend the season. It also serves as homeport for daily ferries to the Pearl Islands and Taboga.
Calle Eusebio A. Morales, frente al Hotel Sevilla
Bar Restaurante 1985 is renowned for its French cuisine and seafood. Once a private townhouse, the “1985” is now a place of gentle lights, copper antiques, original paintings, candlelight and fresh flowers. Ask for the jumbo shrimps with cognac sauce, the lobster Provencal, the corvina with spinach, the filet mignon with mushrooms and for the exquisite wines selected personally by owner Chef Willy Diggelman. The restaurant is very European in decor.
Tel.: 302-6207 Multiplaza Pacific Mall
La Terraza, Punta Pacifica
Benihana is a U.S. franchise that specializes in Japanese food. Unlike other restaurants, you can actually see your meal being prepared before your eyes. The highly skilled and well-trained chefs chop, slice, dice and cook favorites such as steak, chicken, seafood and fresh vegetables in traditional Japanese style on a hibachi table.
The restaurant also serves a variety of Japanese liquors, cocktails, and signature martinis. Tastefully decorated with samurai warrior statues, it is a great place to have a business meeting, a social gathering or celebrate a birthday.
Cl. Eusebio A. Morales, a un costado del Hotel Las Vegas, El Cangrejo
A trendy “spaghetteria” beside Aparthotel Las Vegas and close to the Hotel El Panamá, specializing in pasta and Mediterranean food served in a sophisticated setting with pastel shades and wicker furniture.
Tel.: 393-8844 / 396-2555
Avenida La Pulida con 12 de Octubre, Pueblo Nuevo
Chillin is a sports bar with live music, where you can enjoy the best soccer, NBA, NFL, LPB, MLB games and much more. After 10:00 p.m. the party starts with live music and DJs. The menu is varied and full of delicious dishes that include hamburgers, fish, seafood, chicken just to mention a few. There are also healthy options like salads and soups.
The sports bar also serves exotic cocktails in a relaxed atmosphere. Chillin, as its name indicates, is a great place to watch sporting events on television, while enjoying good food in the company of your family and friends.
Tel.:6955-8002 / 6980-9598 / 262-5420
Casco Antiguo, Ave. Séptima Central Santa Ana, Edf. 11-18 1st floor local #1
Located in the Casco Antiguo of Panama City it is really popular and a good place to meet Panamanians having a good time. It offers guests different environments ranging from the modern art displayed in the main hall to private outdoor spaces. The menu list a variety of dishes that magically combine elements of international and local cuisine. There is an excellent selection of wines and cocktails. But Casa Jaguar is not just about food and drink. Its artistic decor and music (with occasional live performances) are the elements that make guests want to relive the experience of Jaguar again and again. Aimed at people who appreciate the value of the good times, art and modernity, this is an alternative place where the busiest and wildest party in town can be found. Valet parking is available, always a plus in the narrow streets of Casco Antiguo.
Vía Argentina y Calle José Martí
An English-style pub on Via Argentina and Calle José Martí, a block before the statue of Einstein’s head. The pub motif is authentic, including its food served either at the bar or in the eatery along-side, with alcove seating and an ambience of privacy and comfort. The menu is reasonably priced with starters and snacks such as French onion soup and salmon mousse, sandwiches and hamburgers, several robust main courses such as peppered filet steak with cream and cognac and – did you guess? – fish and chips.
This old-established eatery specializes in Panamanian cooking in the style of the Central Provinces. The decor motif is a trapiche, the Panamanian name for an old-world sugar mill, still used in some country areas to squeeze the juice or guarapo from sugar cane. This restaurant is popular and is highly recommended for visitors interested in getting to know the country. Specialities you might like to try are sandwiches en hojaldra (flour fritters with meat or chicken fillings). El Trapiche also has a very popular branch at Albrook Mall.
Bella Vista, Calle 48 y Calle Uruguay
Step inside Habibi’s Restaurant and Bar on Calle Uruguay and you enter an exotic Arabian world of fragrance, taste and entertainment. Habibi’s offers traditional Lebanese food and it is well to bear in mind that the Arab custom is to share the dishes among a group of diners, giving everyone the opportunity to taste a maximum number of dishes. Habibi’s offers an attractive executive lunch menu. Tea can be taken on the terrace and belly dancers enliven the dinner hours. Order a hookah and you have a choice of 20 different tobacco flavors.
Ave. Balboa con calle Anastasio Ruiz, Balboa Boutique, Banking area
Inédito is a restaurant that has one of the best views of the city from its terrace, located on the second floor. From there, you can also see the Bay of Panama, but that it is not all, it also serves the best tapas in the city, together with delicious cocktails, making it a nightlife gathering point.
It features live DJ’s for music lovers and an atmosphere like no other.
The restaurant’s décor is sophisticated yet comfortable. Owners David Besalei and Álvaro Pérez make an excellent working team which is evident in the dishes, cocktails and fine service they offer to their clients.
Calle 51 este, BellaVista diagonal al Edif. Universal
A piece of the countryside translated to the city… an oasis of flavor and folklore downtown.This is a restaurant offering creole food in comfortable and elegant surroundings. Carimañolas, frituras, tamales, sopa borracha (translation: intoxicated soup) and many more are available at very reasonable prices. International food is also featured. Shows with typical dance groups are presented Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 9:00 p.m.
Calle Eusebio A. Morales, Nº18, frente al Hotel El Parador
The owners of this Peruvian restaurant have discovered an unbeatable formula for success. Their Panama City restaurant, opened eight years ago, has grown to a threesome, with branches in Boquete and David in the province of Chiriqui. Cheerful decor inspired by indigenous motifs and excellent service are a hallmark but the Peruvian cuisine is inspired. Seafood dishes are prominent, on an extensive menu. To start you could choose the Piqueo Especial Inti Raymi, a medley of portions served in clam shells – squid, shrimps, ceviche de corvina. No less than 16 dishes on the menu feature corvina. Outstanding is Corvina del Chef, grilled fillets with a sauce of langostinos, octopus, white wine and red peppers. You can also find novel dishes such as Tallarin Negro, a seafood pasta mixed with squid ink, giving what the menu describes as “a spectacular color and an indescribable taste.”
Calle51 este, Bella Vista casa Nº 39
Rincon Aleman, the popular German restaurant, has recently moved its location to the San Francisco area (Calle 68) where it now enjoys ample parking space, a veranda, tavern, restaurant and an original Biergarten, complete with shady trees. Of course customers can still count on authentic German dishes and a large variety of German beers. The restaurant is a popular social center for Europeans living or working in Panama. Proprietor Fritz Schmutte ensures that all his German specialities are not only authentic but world class. Thick smoked pork chops, weinerschnitzel, sausages and hamburger (without the bun) – all can be relied upon absolutely. Extremly popular at Rincon Aleman are the ‘‘all you can eat” days.
Calle Eusebio A. Morales frente al Hotel Sevilla
A small, and intimate restaurant, the Rincon Suizo specializes in a variety of veal dishes, raclette and cheese fondue. Owner, Chef Willy Diggelmann ensures that his Swiss dishes are unsurpassed. The Rincón Suizo is combined with Restaurant Bar 1985 close to a number of hotels.
Tel.: 302-1163 / 302-1164
Centro Comercial Multiplaza, 3ra Etapa, Via Israel, San Francisco, Ciudad de Panama
Ruby Tuesday is a franchise founded in the United States in 1972. It offers “ American casual” dining which comes with friendly service and a guarantee of the freshness and quality of its menu. Of course, handmade hamburgers feature highly on the menu. The Ruby’s Classic Burger is everything a burger should be but for something different try the Black and Blue Bacon Burger with blue cheese or, our favorite, the Mushroom and Crispy Onion Burger. If you like to spice it up the Spicy Jalapeño Cheeseburger will fit the bill. Excellent steaks, seafood, ribs, pastas are on offer. You can create your own salad from the generous Fresh Garden Bar or order a salad combination with quesadillas, chicken or fish. The three course lunch menu is a very good deal at $9.99. Draft and bottled beers are on hand for the thirsty and some very interesting cocktails with names such as Margarita Panameña and Cucumber Gin and Tonic.
Hotel Hilton en Avenida Balboa, piso 11
Panama now has a classic American steak restaurant. Ruth’s Chris Steak House is located on the 11th floor (hit L2 in the elevator) of the
new Hilton Hotel & Resort on Avenida Balboa. The upscale location presents breathtaking views of the bay en-route to dinner. The impeccable service is top of the line. The elegant hotel setting does justice to the gourmet gastronomic offer. The menu takes steak house standards and elevates them to the next level: iceberg wedge salad with blue cheese, shoestring potatoes, crabcakes, shrimp and lobster. Serving USDA Prime beef on sizzling 500°F plates along with sides portioned for sharing, Ruth’s Chris Steak House is the place to take important clients or to share a special time with family or friends.
Vía Cincuentenario, casa Nº50, Coco del Mar
A German couple who own and manage this restaurant have created a German “Gasthaus” in Panama. The traditional Gasthaus is a mixture of restaurant and pub, where people stay after dinner for a chat with friends and enjoy the variety of beers, wines and spirits. Upon entering Steinbock the visitor crosses the Atlantic Ocean with one step and finds himself in a typically cozy “Gasthaus”. The menu offers everything you would expect to find in Germany: soups and cold appetizers, a big selection of sausages, schnitzels, pork and beef roasts, and of course, apfelstrudel for dessert. Open for dinner Tuesday to Friday. Saturday for lunch and dinner. Dinner reservations recommended.
Calle 47, Bella Vista
Wherever you go in the world, you will find an Irish Pub. In Panama City it’s the Blarney Stone where Allan O ‘Connell presides in an atmosphere of hospitality and conviviality symbolized by his logo which shows a pair of hurling bats, an Irish harp and a Shamrock. Pub food connoisseurs will be delighted with the fare, which includes all the traditional favorites: beer-battered fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, sausage and mash and Scotch eggs. Overseeing the food is Mr. O’Connell’s friend restaurateur Mikie Thompson who adds an international flavor to the menu with dishes like chicken masala curry, onion soup with cheesy croutons, Dublin Bay seafood chowder, the Blarney Burger, a lamb burger with Tzatziki and a delectable breaded fish sandwich. The Blarney Stone is located in Bella Vista on Calle 47 between Calle Uruguay and Federico Boyd.
Ocean Mall 2nd floor, Av. La Rotonda, Costa del Este
Xuvia Lounge & World Cuisine, in Costa del Este, adds as much to the nightlife of the city as it does to the gastronomic delights. With easy parking and a sophisticated clientele the swanky tequila and mezcal bar–more than 150 varieties served–hosts jazz presentations most nights, Wednesdays to Saturdays. The tapasstyle menu features international dishes in shareable portions. An ample terrace is the place for al fresco get-togethers, with hookahs available. Those in-the-know ask for the “Nick’s lemonade,” a not-on-the-menu tequila cocktail named for the establishment’s owner.