The restaurants in Panama City are great and they’re even getting better! It seems like there’s a new restaurant that opens every week here. If you’re somebody who likes to go out and eat out, the choices are phenomenal; anything you want, whether it’s Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, steak houses, or whatever you are particular around and want, you can get it here in Panama City.
Casco Viejo is a great place to go and eat out. All over the city, San Francisco, the whole area there, it’s full of restaurants; some are really top class places. The standard here is very high.
I wouldn’t say that’s the case outside of Panama City, where it’s more like the Panama City of 15 to 20 years ago; unless you’re talking about maybe a nice hotel or something like that. Generally, once you go out of the city, the choices are more restricted to chicken, fish, pork, and rice; basic places.
Restaurants in Panama City compared to places like London are cheaper, absolutely. The restaurants here that we go to of all different types are certainly comparable with the standards that I’ve seen in Europe and in Asia, where the standard is Bangkok, for example.
The service end of going to restaurants here depends on the owner and the management. Service here in Panama City can still be a little bit slow. The huge influx in foreigner owners of foreigner restaurants tends to bring that level of professionalism with them when they come down here. You notice it with the service and the food, the presentation, everything.
In terms of cost, it’s like anything. You can spend a lot or you can spend a little. You don’t have to spend a lot to get a good meal here in Panama City. For a reasonable price, you’ve got reasonable places. There’s a good meal for every budget
The Paddy Mick’s in Clayton in Panama City is a great place to eat. The Paddy Mick’s is an Irish pub and restaurant. I dig it because it’s got a nice outside beer garden and big, Mahogany trees all around it. The chef is good. The food is very reasonably priced. They’ve got one of the best burgers in that side of the city. It’s the only place where you can watch the ships pass the canal in the city, so that’s a good spot.
A meal would cost US $12 to $15 for a dinner, per person for a good meal, like one of those burgers or something a little nicer, drinks not included. The way the restaurant got its name is that the owners call Mike, Mick and in the British Isles, Irish people are called Paddys, like the Scots are called Scots or Jocks.
For a good economical Italian meal, Vespa in Marbella in Panama City is a good spot; Vespa, like the Italian scooter. They do excellent Italian food for very, very reasonable prices. Italian-owned, Italian chef, great food, fantastic pizza, that’s a recommendation for sure. The main course starts at $15 for a basic meal.
(Vespa restaurant and bar poster, Panama City, Panama, pictured.)