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What to Eat in Panama

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If you come to Panama expecting just Latino food, you’re in for a big surprise: You might find dim sum on the breakfast table, lunch with an African accent, and ceviche at dinner that was probably today’s catch.
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Panamanians love Chinese brunch. The Chinese community here, one of the largest and most prosperous in the Western Hemisphere, is the result of a wave of immigration that began 160 years ago for railroad construction. One happy...
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Av Balboa s/n, Panamá, Panama
Panama City’s seafood market stands near the halfway point along the Cinta Costera, so the goodies on offer can be your reward after a long walkabout. Since colonial times, fishermen who sold the city its seafood have anchored here;...
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Panama City, Panama
There was a tradition years ago among Panama City dwellers: going out for fried fish in El Chorrillo, the raffish barrio where boxing legend Roberto Durán grew up. While the custom faded over the years, the popularity of El...
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Vía Argentina, Panamá, Panama
When it comes to matters breaded, battered, and fried (a Panamanian food obsession) you’ve got to try a carimañola (a cassava-meal fritter stuffed with meat), hojaldre (pretty much fried dough), and corn tortillas and...
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Vía Argentina, Panamá, Panama
Vía Argentina runs through the heart of El Cangrejo, the central neighborhood famed for its selection of restaurants, bars, and hotels. A walk along the street is like taking a gastronomic trip alongside all the immigrant groups...
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Panama City, Panama
Above and beyond the canal experience, A&PC is a good choice in its own right for an unforgettable Panama meal. Just being able to dine as you watch vessels pass through one of the world’s most colossal engineering marvels is a treat....
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Calle D, Panamá, Panama
Chef Hernán Correa, the creative force behind the restaurant known as Riesen, is famed for his love of experimentation: He transforms old-school Panamanian recipes into something all his own. Hits include a version of the pickled...
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Multiplaza, Panamá, Panama
Coffee culture is a big deal in Panama. And thanks to geisha-bean production in the highlands of Chiriquí (the province that borders Costa Rica), local coffees are some of the most sought-after in the world. Try them at Café Unido,...
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Local 1 20, Vía Argentina, Panama City, Panama
Summer is the season for the Panama Micro Brew Fest, a great chance to try what the nation’s backyard brewers are serving up. Don’t worry if you can’t make it— the tasty craft beers are available year-round. Buenas Pintas (...
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Av Central 1100, Panamá, Panama
Chef José Carles likes thinking of the dishes he creates as short stories that let him recount Panama’s history to his diners. He does as much at Donde José, his tight, 16-seat-only dining room (don’t forget...
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Calle 72 Este, Panamá, Panama
Cuquita Cookita is the latest venture from celebrated local chef Cuquita Arias de Calvo. She serves up “gourmet-homemade” in this colorful eat-in or take-out café. Desserts and other sweets are a specialty too, like her banana...
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Ocean Mall, Avenida de la Rotonda, Panamá, Panama
Mercao owes its name to chef Francisco Castro’s grandmother, and the contemporary cuisine is inspired by his homeland’s local markets, ingredients, and culture. He loves working with acidic, fruity flavors, fresh herbs, and every...
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Calle 50, Panamá, Panama
Maito 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....
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Calle 72 Este, Panamá, Panama
Carlos “Chombolín” Alba, the creator behind Intimo, focuses on local cooking and describes his restaurant as a “gastro-cultural” space. The place lives up to its name: In addition to seating only 28...