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“Great food & great value. No debate: four thumbs up!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Rene Cafe

Rene Cafe
Calle Pedro J. Sossa | Casco Viejo, Panama City 80397, Panama
507-262-3487
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Ranked #11 of 473 restaurants in Panama City
Price range: $8 - $25
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Romance, Doing business, Local cuisine, Special occasions, Entertaining clients, Dining on a budget
Dining options: Lunch, Dinner, Reservations
Fort McMurray, Alberta
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
7 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“Great food & great value. No debate: four thumbs up!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 6, 2013

We were debating between this restaurant and a similar one further away, but the looming rain clouds helped make our decision because of its proximity to our hotel (Tantalo - don't go if you value sleep).

We read reviews in our travel book but upon looking at TripAdvisor reviews our decision was easy... And we certainly were not disappointed!

The prices were not to be beat; their menu advertises $22 for a "6-course" meal or even less for the lunch option. Our six courses was more like 8, and one was a full entree. More about that later. We also had a bottle of Chilean red, also $22. The server was running off his feet all night despite there only being 4-5 tables; 5 tables x 8 courses = A LOT of work!

I have to say the home style food reminded me so much if my grandmother's cooking. It was rich with flavour and different textures; an epicurean treat!

Our six courses were:

1) Salad with a vinegar and lemon dressing. Very flavourful and light.

2) Tortilla - a frittata-esque pie slice full of potatoe, peppers and green onion. It melted in our mouths.

3) Spring roll & hot ginger sauce. This was tasty but was a little different then our North American style. I think maybe the wrap was made with plantain as it was super crunchy and sweet.
4) Ropa vieja - literally translates to "Old clothes.". Ropa Veija was explained to me as a soup made with whatever was in the kitchen, but in this case I think it might have been a case of using plaintain or pork, prepared the day before for a different use, and re-purposed for this saviury dish; A baked plantain cup overflowing with pulled pork in a kind of subtle barbecue sauce. Nom nom nom.

5) Octopus skewer - It had 2-3 morsels of octopus in addition to lots of veggies and flavour.

6) Tamale - Open-faced tamale was full of chicken, salsa and what was perhaps a yucca, carrot purée. Delicious.

7) Dirty rice - rice mixed with veggies. This course also contained a small piece of breaded fish, a small lemon-style chicken breast & pork smothered in a barbecue-style sauce. By this point we were stuffed and could not eat the entire serving despite its mouth-watering flavours.

8) Finally, a small brownie with almond slivers on top. Absolutely decadent.

We rolled out of Rene's. it was our last night in Panama and I have to say our trip ended on a very high note because of it.

The only downsides were the heat as the air-conditioning seemed to have a mind of its own swinging from warmer than outdoors to ice cold. Also our server, understandably because of all his running around, wasn't so attentive to our water glasses it required a few reminders during our first couple of courses but he caught on after round 3-4. We gave him a very healthy tip for all his great work.

    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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255 reviews from our community

85% Recommend
    144
    74
    25
    8
    4
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Senior Contributor
47 reviews 47 reviews
14 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 27 cities Reviews in 27 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
“Cheap and Delicious!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 24, 2013 via mobile

For travelers on a budget this is a dream! We paid $8.50 for the set lunch and got Salad, Bread, Frittata, Rice, I had chicken and my boyfriend had fish, and a desert. The food was extremely good and we didn't even have to eat dinner later on as we were so full!

The service was also excellent. I highly recommend this place.

    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
7 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
“Excellent”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 7, 2013

A really pleasant experience. Set menu, sort of degustation style. Great service and good value. Would definitely return if again in Panama City.

  • Visited January 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Oakton, Virginia
Senior Contributor
48 reviews 48 reviews
30 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
“Super place for lunch in Casa Viejo - service, food and price perfect”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 27, 2013

What a great find! Stumbled upon this lovely little cafe in Casa Viejo for lunch. It looked nice From the outside and had a TripAdvisor certificate of excellence on the door so we gave it a try. We were not disappointed! Lunch menu is simple - fixed price $8.50. Includes two appetizers, special fried rice, dessert and choice of entree. Entree choices are chicken, fish, pork, or vegetarian. The day we were there we were served a large salad to be shared family style and slices of quiche as appetizers. Also served was fresh bread with delicious garlic butter. This was followed by choice of entree and a large bowl of fried rice which had carrots, peppers, seasoning, pineapple, spring onions, and was delicious. Our group all had fish and it was very good. Fried with a Light batter and very tasty. They also offer a kids menu for $4.50 which includes fish or chicken fingers with French fries or rice and dessert. Our son was very happy with his meal and I was happy it wasn't processed chicken nuggets! It was lightly battered chicken breasts that looked much healthier. Atmosphere and service were great. Clean cloth linens, air conditioning, and nice tableware and service was efficient, attentive and kind. This was a heat find. Highly recommend to tourists in Casa Viejo looking for a place for lunch.

  • Visited January 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
“A Welcome Delight!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 24, 2013

My wife and I had the fortune to eat at Rene Cafe during our recent vacation to Panama City. We were warmly greeted and invited to sit in the this quaint cafe in the historic part of town( Casco Viejo ) while our delicious meal was preapered in the open kitchen only steps away. Garden fresh vegetables, chicken and rice cooked to perfection, icy cold drinks and sweet desserts were brought to the table in top fashion. The pace was perfect, the atmosphere, striking and the service, impeccable. The cost was incredibly affordable and the portions more than plentiful. The overall experience was a welcome delight and I would have no hesitation in recommending Rene Cafe ...it was simply, brilliant!

  • Visited December 2012
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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