Photo by Tarina Rodríguez
MaitoMaito snagged No. 36 on a recent list of Latin America’s 50 best restaurants. It was the sole Central American venue to make the cut, in addition to being named by the list’s authors as the top Panama restaurant in 2016. Behind the kudos stands the restaurant’s chef and creator, Mario Castrellón, whose industry peers celebrate him for having brought a formidable evolutionary twist to New Panamanian cooking. His forte? Using ingredients that, while recognizably national, have not traditionally gone into sophisticated cuisine, like Darién red rice or exotic flor eléctrica (Acmella oleracea, a flowering herb that grows on the slopes of the nation’s highest volcano).