Best restaurants in Panama City
Panama City is one of the most intriguing urban settlements in Latin America, famed for its stunning skyline, modern skyscrapers, the Panama Canal — representing one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World — and the gorgeous Casco Viejo, a UNESCO World Heritage site that hides within it some of the most incredible bars and restaurants. That said, the city also hosts some of the best dining spots in Central America, and foodies that make their way through Panama will love it for its exquisite eateries and restaurants.
After a month of exploring Panama City as a local, and having the privilege to try both its fancy restaurants and less refined local hotspots, I came up with a list of restaurants that reveal the city's culinary genius.
Caliope is one of the best restaurants in Central America, and it brings with it the concept of fusion food to the region. With an intriguing mix of European (mostly Italian) dishes seasoned with local ingredients and fresh regional herbs, customers will expand their culinary horizons here. The interior design is splendid, being closer to a chic Italian restaurant than a Latin American or Anglo- American diner. Dishes you cannot miss? The Carbón Ardiente with octopus and the Ancestral dessert.
Located in the charming Casco Viejo neighbourhood, this buzzing hotspot is easily heaven for Argentinian Parrilla fans. Argentinian empanadas, Spanish tapas and wines, Panamanian service and the Latin American passion for fine dining are enclosed in this extraordinary dining experience. The restaurant boasts a modern design, which is in stark contrast to the historic district where it's located. Dessert is a winner here — don't leave without trying their delicious slab of brownie topped with ice-cream.
Perfect for both power lunches or romantic dishes, ZK Nikkei Cuisine specialises in combining Japanese and Peruvian dishes. Specialities like Maguronami (yellow fin tuna served with mashed potatoes and seasoned with a fresh sauce) and Long Island Atlantic Oysters served with ponzu mignonette are just some of the creative specialities offered in this cosy restaurant. My favourites? Their Thai ceviche and prawn risotto.
Situated in one of the most glamorous buildings in Panama, the Ph Yoo in Avenida Balboa, the entrance to Azahar Panama will blow you away at first sight, with its swanky entrance that leads you through a flower shop. The restaurant is renowned in Panama City for its eclectic interior design, exceptional service, faultless cocktails, and probably best sushi in town. Order the Azahar prawns and sushi — who said Panama City can't have delectable Japanese food?
La Vespa Panama is an Italian restaurant located in Trump International Hotel, where guests can soak in panoramic views of the bay. The menu has a good selection of authentic Italian dishes and is famous for the pizza selection. You can't leave without trying their tortellone tricolore and spaghetti alla carbonara.
About Adina Laura-Achim
Adina became a storyteller after a 10-year PR and marketing career. Today, she spends her time writing books, freelancing for magazines, and travelling to distant corners of the world. She's a polka dot and stripes aficionado who can't live without red lipstick, silk pajamas and her Audrey Hepburn movie collection.