Top 10 New Restaurants in Panama City (Panama)16th November 2015
Panama City has long been recognized as a cosmopolitan culinary capital…the kind of place where new restaurants pop up almost every day. The food landscape is exciting, with fusion, ethnic, gourmet, and casual eateries all making their way into the mix. Whether you’re in the mood for Indian, Argentinean, Korean, Swiss, Thai, Mexican, or virtually anything else, you’ll find it here.
Older places that have stood the test of time are well worth visiting. But to see and be seen—or just enjoy a different culinary experience—there’s nothing like a trendy new restaurant. Ready for a fun night out on the town? Start your evening with one of Panama City’s best new eateries…just try to book ahead, as most of these places are always hopping:
1. Try Humo for Panama’s best BBQ
Known for great meat and fish dishes, this joint has a small but satisfying menu and great casual-country ambiance. It’s the brainchild of owner and chef Mario Castrellón, who uses local ingredients to put a Panamanian spin on U.S.-style barbecue. Located in the San Francisco district of Panama City, Humo is close to nightspots like Libar and pubs like Brew Stop. Try the pulled pork tacos and sangria, then head out for cocktails or dancing.
2. The award for most innovative goes to Madrigal
Panama’s most popular nightlife spots are in beautiful Casco Viejo. The colonial buildings lend instant charm to any locale…but not every eatery here is worth the often hefty prices. Madrigal, however, is always changing it up and surprising diners (which may be a big reason this restaurant is always full). We love inventive dishes like tongue with risotto and ceviche covered in coconut foam. Though a bit pricey for Panama, Madrigal always delivers a unique dining experience. Definitely the best restaurant in the touristy Casco Viejo district.
3. Cocina de la India has a big, varied menu
There’s nothing like Indian cuisine to satisfy your craving for spicy food. Though Panama City has several excellent offerings, this new eatery is a head above the rest when it comes to variety. Located in the food court of the Balboa Boutique street mall, Cocina de la India boasts traditional breakfast items you won’t find anywhere else. Try the savory idli cakes, a South Indian specialty that’ll wake up your taste buds, as it comes served with a fiery soup called sambar.
4. Enjoy Japanese fusion at ZK Nikkei
Long-time patrons of this restaurant, formerly known as Sake, may protest that it’s not new at all. But as the restaurant has been re-branded (and is more popular than ever) we thought it deserved a place on our list. For an upscale décor and delectable Japanese food with a Latin American twist, ZK cannot be beat. Plus, it’s conveniently located in the Torre de las Americas building, across from Multiplaza mall. Reserve online at www.degustapanama.com.
5. Gula, the go-to place for great ambiance and live music
Historically, the Costa del Este sector hasn’t been known for its nightlife. But with a growing offering of new restaurants and cafes, Costa del Este is changing. At the head of the pack is Gula, a trendy restaurant that wouldn’t be out of place in Brooklyn. The sepia lighting and warehouse décor are the perfect backdrop for bluesy live music and hipster-inspired cocktails. It can get loud here, so think dinner and drinks with friends rather than family gathering.
6. Find iconic French macaroons and more at Ladurée
A Parisian chain known for impossibly beautiful desserts, Ladurée recently opened its first Panama store at the brand new Soho mall. A great place for gourmet macaroons, it also offers a good variety of savory dishes, like foie gras and old-fashioned vol au vents. Our advice? Take in a movie at the mall’s upscale VIP theaters, then treat yourself to a kir royal and sweet treat at Ladurée.
7. Try Le & Möet & Chandon for fancy Sunday brunches
This newly opened café is fittingly located atop the beautiful Hermes shop in Multiplaza mall. The well-trained service staff exists to pamper guests, and the menu includes impressive offerings like champagne and oysters. Don’t expect heavy dinner dishes in Le & Möet & Chandon, as the menu is tapas-inspired. Perfect for an evening of light bites and adult beverages.
8. Casco Viejo’s well-kept secret is Barrio Pizza
For casual, inexpensive, and incredibly good food, head to Barrio Pizza. Tucked away on Avenida Central, near the Plaza Catedral, this is a hole-in-the-wall pizzeria with limited seating and cool graffitied walls. You can order to go or wait for one of the few tables to free up. You’ll be entertained by the pizza chef, who churns out fresh pizzas in full view of his hungry customers. Craft beer and wine by the glass are also on the creative menu featuring unusual toppings like eggplant and Roquefort.
9. II Tula, authentic Italian in an intimate setting
Typically booked a week or so in advance, II Tula is a place worth waiting for. Just don’t let the unassuming façade on Via Porras fool you. Locals are whispering that this tiny restaurant with just six tables offers up the best Italian fare in the city. Reserve for an upcoming birthday and then count the days, dreaming of green peppercorn spaghetti and lamb-stuffed tortellini.
10. Breakfast and outstanding coffee await at Café Unido
In quiet Coco del Mar you’ll find a small café and some of the best coffee in Panama. If you’re not a coffee drinker, never fear—the selection of teas and chocolate frappes is also fantastic. But for bitter bean enthusiasts, there are world-famous brews like geisha and arpia to choose from. Plus, breakfast items like huevos rancheros and pain-au-chocolate are fast becoming local favorites. Unido also has locales in Marbella, Costa del Este, and Casco Viejo. All offer wifi, so bring your laptop and stay a while!
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