Eat List: Panama City, Panama
Fondas, fine dining, Chino-Panameño & specialty coffee shops.
First, a bit of house cleaning. I have been quite lenient in how much of the content in this newsletter is free to everyone. I still need more paid subscriptions to make this newsletter and podcast work, so I need to make some adjustments. So, I have to put more things behind a paywall. Here’s what I’m going to do. Like always, recipes and guides like the one below will be mostly behind a paywall, while most everything else will be free…for a limited amount of time. After one week, archives will go behind a paywall too. That includes podcast transcripts.
Additionally, I have added updated Eat Lists from cities and destinations from around Latin America, not just Panama below. The plan is to keep those coming and keep them updated, so whenever someone is planning a trip somewhere in Latin America and wants curated recommendations on where they should eat – from someone that has been doing this for a long time and knows his shit – will have a reliable source of information and not just a list of some random restaurants from the internet. You can see the full collection of Guides here.
Just because I am instating this new format, I’ll make annual subscriptions 25 percent off until the end of the month. Click here to save.
Panama City has had Central America’s most vibrant restaurant scene for about a decade now and it’s still going strong. There are several very good contemporary Panamanian tasting menus, dozens of spots for updated fonda fare, great street food, lively markets and specialty coffee shops that are roasting some of the world’s best coffees. Additionally, there is a century culinary diaspora that has brought in dim sum, Greek pastries and, more recently, arepas. While there has also been a surge in international chain restaurants and flashy Miami Beach style rooftop restobars, they don’t get nearly the attention as the things that are happening organically in Panama.
Even through the pandemic, there wasn’t a massive wave of restaurants closing. They did refine themselves, however. Chefs like Jose Olmedo Carles closed fine dining spot Dondé José to focus on the larger and more playful fonda Lo Que Hay. Mario Castrellón continues his expansion with Grupo Maito, which now has a Spanish restaurant, a ghost kitchen for delivery and an expanding footprint in Washington D.C. Veteran chef Fulvio Miranda is set to make a big impact in the near future as his informal Cantina del Tigre transitions into a much larger setting. All in all, things are looking bright in the city of Panama.
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