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Ready to go

Toronto, Canada
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Ready to go

So I'm getting ready for my first panama adventure ..leaving Wednesday when I realize I have no clue on what is Panamanian food, Ok..I'm sure not to get it at Breezes's... but I'll hunt some down,

Please adivse what I must taste and lets not forget ....drink.

CDY
Medellin, Colombia
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for Panama City
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1. Re: Ready to go

Rice, beans, with chicken, beef, pork, - sancocho - like a chicken soup.

Typical local lunch - rice con pollo with beans and soup.

Quality can vary greatly depending on the spices used.

Lots grilled chicken - some good - some not so good.

My favorite panama dish - Cevieche

Panama City is great for restaurant choices - wide variety - many very good

I mostly stick with beer ( and vodka) in Panama - the local beers are decent - Panama, Balboa.

Out at Breezes there is not much around - if you go back to the main highway and hang a left the first town is Rio Hato ( if I remeber correctly) have eaten at several of the local places - all average at best.

If you are a foodie you need to go to PC

Toronto, Canada
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2. Re: Ready to go

Muchos gracias CDY.....me gusta vodka tambien!!!

My man will be pleased with rice & beans being a cuban.

Now what about this town your talking about ?? Rio Hato?? I thought we were stuck in no man's land?? Please do tell more.

Las Margaritas/El...
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3. Re: Ready to go

Hi!

Rio Hato is the opposite direction of Panama City about 15 minutes. There are a couple of local restaurants across the street from the Centro Commercial (grocery store and Texaco gas station) in the center of town on the Pan American Highway.

Another place you might want to try is at the entrance to El Valle/Anton Valle. There are a couple of local restaurants with empanadas, pork, chicken, rice, beans, etc. The prices are very reasonable. We have ate them many times and dinner/lunch for 2 of us is around $5.00 (the most expensive thing is the Pepsi LOL).

If you are renting a car from the Breezes I would suggest you also check out Los Comissones for GREAT seafood choices. It is back towards PC and at the 104 KM marker. Go past the gas station (about 5 KM from the hotel). You will see it on the left side of the road in the middle of nowhere. Drive past and make a u-turn at the next place you can.

Also if you get sick of the food at the Breezes in Santa Clara go to XS Memories for great corvina, hamburgers with homemade fries. It is also a sports bar and has parrots that are on the veranda that will speak to you in English, Spanish, and some French.

Also try SECO - it is basically grain alcohol so you add anything with it. But beware it will know you down fast (LOL)!!

There are no taxis at the Breezes and they want you to use their private expensive service. To walk to the PanAmerican Highway from the hotel is 1.5 miles and you can find public buses or if real lucky maybe a taxi.

Mary

www.whypanama.com

CDY
Medellin, Colombia
Destination Expert
for Panama City
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3,791 posts
98 reviews
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4. Re: Ready to go

Also if you like to party a little - go to the disco at Decameron - it will cost about $15 but the drinks will be free - Friday, Saturday night pretty lively.

Lots of young people but a mix of all ages.

LN
Panama City, Panama
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5. Re: Ready to go

True Panamanian food, I am afraid, is bland and boring...........not much for the spices.

Atlanta, Georgia...
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for Colon, Isla Grande, Portobelo
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6. Re: Ready to go

Mary, I can't believe you'd recommend Seco to anyone, as knowledgeable as you are about Panama. Lesab, let me put it this way about Seco ... formaldehyde will get you high, too. It's a very, very cheap drunk that the FDA would never approve under any administration. The alternative? Panama's best is Abuelo Añejo 7 Años ... 7 year old Abuelo rum. With Coke, it's great. Check out the Rey stores for booze and wine. There are excellent Chillean wines available at dirt cheap prices.

As for Panamanian cuisine ... as you've probably gathered, don't expect a lot of spice. It's definitely not Mexican.

For Breakfast --

Hojaldra -- fried bread dough. Actually, one of my favorites. Once labeled "a carbohydrate vehicle for delivering fat directly to the blood streeam." With jam, called "mermelada" or marmalade, it's delicious.

Salchicha -- you might think it's a sausage, but it's more like a hot dog. Very mild and bland. Choriso is sausage.

Caramiñola - Fried corn meal with a meat paste (beef or pork) inside. Not my favorite.

The orange juice in most places is wonderful.

Most Panamanians go to places like El Ejecutivo and Miramar for breakfast in the city. Both have reputations for excellent breakfast buffets with choices like omelets and waffles. In the countryside restaurants, you can't go wrong with eggs and tostada.

When ordering coffee, "cafe negro" -- black coffee -- doesn't mean what it says. It just means you get a cup of black coffee and you can add your own milk/cream and sugar. "cafe con leche" -- coffee with milk -- is coffee mixed 50/50 with hot milk, like a latte.

Lunch -- In the country, "Almuerzo" is the big meal of the day. The dishes I'm listing here are also applicable for "Sena" -- supper.

Appetiser - ceviche. Ceviche is fish or seafood that has been literally cooked chemically by lime juice. It's wonderful! Usually served with crackers. Ceviche Corvina is made with Sea Bass. It's also done with Camarones (shrimp) and Pulpo (octopus) or Mixto (a mix of corvina, camarones y pulpo).

Outside of Panama (City) most salads are going to be shredded lettuce, a slice of tomato and maybe a couple of rings of onions with vinegar and oil. Very plain Jane.

Sancocho - Panama's signature dish -- er, soup. Sancocho is to Panama what spaghetti is to Itally. It's more than food, it's heritage and everyone has their own version. There's even a fast food version served at the Pio Pio fast food restaurants. Basically, it's chicken soup. And, along with the chopped up pieces of chicken, there are yucca, carrot, sometimes potato, ñame (yam, kinda like yucca) and culantro. Culantro is a very important ingredient to a lot of Panamanian dishes. It's cilatro on steroids. Instead of looking like a puiny staulk with a leaf on top, this looks like a hefty Christmas cactus. Like I said, it's a major herb in Panamanian cooking. Sancocho is generally served with white rice on the side.

Tasajo -- also served for breakfast. It's thick cut, boiled beef jerky. Sometimes very tasty. I like it.

Patacones and Plantanos -- The two main staples are plantain and rice. There are two ways of serving plantain. Patacones are cut like crossways, like the banana slices you put on your cereal, squished a bit and fried. They're usually eaten with ketchup because they taste a lot like french fries. Plantano or Plantano Maduro is mature plantain. It's much softer and sweeter, often fried and boiled wih cinnamon and raw sugar.

Rice -- usually plain, white rice. But, on the Caribbean side you'll also find Arroz con Coco -- coconut rice. It's wonderful!

Steaks and beef -- The beef in Panama is very different. It comes from rangy, thin Brahma cattle that can stand the weather and the grass of the tropics. Do not expect thick, juicy steaks that come from aged Angus or Hereford beef. (If the restaurant serves it, it will be listed as Bifstek Americano.) The cuts will be thinner and have a little more grissle. But, that doesn't mean they are less tasty. It's all in the hands of the chef. See what follows.

Beef and Fish (like Filette de Corvina) will be served a number of ways, like ....

Criollo, or Salsa Criolla -- means creol. A tomato based sauce, with garlic, peppers, onion and spices.

Ajillo -- means garlic. Usually, a lot of butter and/or olive oil with plenty of garlic. Cerro Punta has the absolute tastiest beef filletes con ajillo that I have ever had.

Another typical favorite is Ropa Vieja, which literally means "old clothes" or more accurately, "rags." I love it and have learned to make it very well. It's actually a Cuban dish, but has been "Panamized." It begins with a flank steak or a pot roast or any other lower cut of beef that is cooked to within an inch of its life, then shredded into slivers and stewed with culantro, carrots, potatoes or what have you (like capers and olives) and delivered as a very tasty stew.

Whoops ... one last item I almost forget. Panama has very weird idea of what is a tortilla. Don't expect something that goes well with a taco. Here, it's cornmeal. And, it's thick, too. They're like eating bland cornmeal mush.

Not my favorite.

LN
Panama City, Panama
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7. Re: Ready to go

Great write up! I also recommend Seco, it is actually like "moonshine" and

many expats drink as "vodka", myself inclulded and it is not a headache booze unless you drink too much. The FDA? Oh come on! Let's keep it real gb lol!

Beware the soup if you are allergic to MSG - it is in many soups here - even the homemade ones.

You forgot to mention pork, I think that Panama has the best pork I have ever eaten.......very thick and tender and juicy.

If you have a car, come back towards the City an hour to Coronado - there are a few good restaurants, Malibu, Rincon Chef, Pizza Picasso-salads have much more than lettuce, Cholo's Mexican fare; quite a nice selection of restaurants to get away from the normal Panamanian fare.

You will get plenty of normal bland Panamanian fare at Breezes, I am afraid.

Edited: 8:18 am, September 26, 2010
CDY
Medellin, Colombia
Destination Expert
for Panama City
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8. Re: Ready to go

No seco and

"Most Panamanians go to places like El Ejecutivo and Miramar" for breakfast - a bit of a different crowd that I hang with I, but good suggestions -

Panamanian food can be tasty if done right -the ex-gf and her mother - both excellent cooks/chef make a wonderful rice con pollo but trying to find something that good in a restaurant is hard. Trpical Panamanian restaurants- like you will find in Rio Hato will have a counter with rice, soup, several types of meat - not always very appetizing looking, it's usually pretty cheap but very average taste. I find some of the little food stands in the streets to be tastier.

Seco is a bit of acquired taste - most Latin countries have their favoirte cheap dink - here in Colombia it is Aguardiente - same type of stuff - drink a little too much and you won't remember waht happened the night before

Toronto, Canada
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9. Re: Ready to go

Thanks all. I must admit I am curious about the Seco now and must try it.

LN
Panama City, Panama
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5,784 posts
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10. Re: Ready to go

I love Aguardiente too, just bought some for a little party here at the house, lol.