For ages, Panama has been known as a cultural melting pot. Over the past years, this country has also become a renown site for tourism, due to its unbelievably beautiful beaches and rain forests, the famous Panama Canal, and their culturally rich islands. However, even though different areas are gaining popularity, there is still a big one that needs even more — the culinary sector. So, here is a list of the 10 restaurants you can't leave Panama without trying. 

1. 5inco

This urban restaurant gives a unique twist to fan favorite dishes. I would recommend getting started with the empanadas and the lollipop wings to share. As a main dish, the Big Papi meat ball is absolutely mind blowing. All the ingredients blend perfectly together and left me wishing I knew about this dish earlier.

2. The Fish Market

Located in the Casco Antiguo, Panama's historic district, this gourmet food truck is truly one of a kind. Their menu is not set in stone, so it's constantly offering a different mix of options. One day I'm eating the best chorizo and prawns mac 'n' cheese I've ever had, and the next day enjoying the freshest ahi tuna burger.

#SpoonTip: The Fish Market has a special promotion on Tuesday's and Wednesday's for 2 fish tacos and 2 national beers for just $20. Just remember it's cash only so you don't have to leave unsatisfied.

3. Botánica

With a nice, warm ambiance and delicious food, Botánica has earned a spot on this list as one of my favorite lunch places. It offers mouthwatering pastas, like rigatoni amatriciana with pepper flakes and risotto with fresh prawns and avocado, two of my favorites. Not only is their pasta unreal, but they also have many different pizzas and sandwiches. I recommend the smoked turkey sandwich and the spicy caprese bocconcini pizza.

4. La Sanwichería

Located inside the beautiful Casa Nolita, La Sanwichería is home to the greatest combo: sandwiches and chips. I recommend either their ceviche or chorizo sampler as the perfect appetizer, followed by either a tuna or fried chicken sandwich. Sadly, La Sanwichería is currently closed as they move to a new location but I'm as eager as you for them to reopen. 


dairy product, fried egg, egg yolk, toast, egg
Alexandra Oduber

TBH who isn't up for a good brunch these days? This pet-friendly restaurant is the perfect place for catching up with friends over coffee. My suggestions for lunch are the vegetarian sandwich or signature burger, Burger LOCAL. And because these two plates are going to have you wanting more, I recommend the hojaldre al caballo or the pancakes with apple crumble for brunch. 

6. Tacos la Neta

pork, chicken, tacos
Alexandra Oduber

Definitely my suggestion if you are looking for a combination of really good Mexican food and Panama's own tropical flavor. My personal favorite tacos are the bistec güey and pollo pistolero, closely followed by some queso fundido and chicken flautas. 

7. Vinoteca

As a slightly more expensive option, Vinoteca is a good place for any type of special celebration. This Italian restaurant is the perfect pick for any wine and pasta lover who wants to really enjoy the rich flavors of an Italian dinner. My personal recommendations are the Venetian clams, nonna's meatballs, and the bucatini all'amatriciana, delish. 

8. Los Años Locos

Known for their juicy steaks, Los Años Locos has never failed to deliver a perfect plate. It's a bit on the pricier side, but definitely worth the investment. Though the picture speaks for itself, I still have to recommend you order the skirt steak. Trust me, you haven't lived unless you've had it.  

9. Tántalo Hotel

With a breathtaking view of Panama, Tántalo has earned a spot on my list as the best place for tapas and cocktails.  I recommend the passion fruit mojitos and their signature octopus, the Pulpo Tantalo.

10. Café Unido

I recommend this place not only for a quick lunch, but also as a coffee enthusiast. With a few locations across the city, you have no reason not to go. My personal favorites? Their breakfast sandwich, the unido burger, and the mozzarella sandwich. Another piece of advice? Get a hot cappuccino before you leave. 

This list is in no particular order. In fact, if you have the time and you are looking for really good places to eat you should check them all. By experiencing all these different restaurants and types of cuisine, you are experiencing the flavor and the cultural diversity of Panama in the best way possible.