We ate lunch at La Fonda de la Merry, a little restaurant that is frequented pretty much only by the locals. The three of us had 3 plates of food, 2 small glasses of orange juice and one can of coconut water for $9.25.
Location: The restaurant is tucked away on the southwest corner of the intersection of Ave. A Este and Calle 5 Sur. It's one block south of the Romero supermarket.
Decor: Well, it's a simple local eatery. It's clean and they have mostly outdoor seating. That's about it.
Food: The lunch menu consisted of three choices - roasted chicken (pollo asado), stewed chicken (pollo guisado), smoked beef with onions (tasajo encebollado). So since there were three of us, we got all three. Each dish came with a small salad consisting of shredded lettuce and a slice of tomato with dab of mayonnaise and a heaping pile of white rice and a bowl of beans. The roasted chicken and stewed chicken tasted exactly the same; the only difference being that the stewed chicken was juicier. Both were flavorful and well seasoned. We were split on the tasajo. If you don't like tough and chewy meat, then you will definitely not like it. Or to put it another way, if you have not enjoyed the beef in Panama, then steer very clear of the tasajo. On the other hand, if you don't mind chewy, almost thick-cut smoked bacon-like texture, then it was quite good - salty and smokey with a rich, deep flavor of beef. It's a Chiriqui specialty, so I didn't want to leave here without trying it. We took pictures of each dish.
Service: The food is pre-cooked so it comes out ridiculously fast. The owners were also our servers and they are quite friendly and want you to be happy. If you don't speak Spanish, they will try their best to explain the dishes to you. When it's time to pay, just go inside and pay at the register.
Value: Like I said before - 3 plates of food, 3 drinks = $9.25. Except for maybe the empanada stand by the central square, I don't think you can beat this place for value.
Conclusion and Comments: We ate comida tipica at El Sabroson as well, but we thought the food here was better and cheaper. You don't have as many choices, but overall, we liked La Fonda de la Merry much better as the service was much friendlier. To be clear, this is not a place for everyone. It's a no frills place that caters to the locals, but if you want to eat like the locals, then this place is worth a try for $3.
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