Our Favorite Expat-Owned Restaurants In Panama

LIOS Poll—Our Favorite Expat-Owned Food Haunts In Panama

Live and Invest Overseas office in Panama City’s eclectic El Cangrejo neighborhood is a rainbow coalition of international talent. Along with that multicultural diversity comes a wide range of tastes, which came to light when we polled our colleagues to uncover our best-liked food haunts in all of Panama.

The catch? Each of LIOS’ staff’s top picks are eateries that are expat-owned…

For Oliver Lovett on the Web Team, Paddy Mick’s Irish pub in the City of Knowledge earns high marks for their “meant to be decent” food and their Friday night live music. Perhaps the pub atmosphere reminds him a tad bit of England, where he’s from, but I bet the sunset views of the Panama Canal may have something to do with his choice.

Associate Publisher Harry Kalashian says “Tántalo in Casco Viejo is one of the most popular bars in the city at this point,” and likes the unique atmosphere Tántalo’s owner, Matthew Blesso, a New Jersey-born real estate developer, brings to bear in the design of his boutique hotel.

Canadian-owned Cosmic Crab in Bocas del Toro is Editor-in-Chief Kat Kalashian’s preferred place to chill when beachcombing Panama’s popular Caribbean island escape. “Great food… best Bloody Mary in Panama!” she says of their restaurant and bar. (Cabins are also available.)

Our Finnish Senior Marketing Assistant Anki Hevonkoski is big on The Stranger’s Club, Casco’s newest draw. “They have great deco, ‘friendly’ service—well, as friendly as you can get in Panama—plus a great atmosphere with bossa nova, Latin lounge, and salsa playing low enough to be able to communicate without fear of losing your voice.” Organized salsa classes and social-dancing events take place, offering opportunities to mingle over “hipsterishly complicated” cocktails afterwards.

Taking up the vegan flag, IT Manager Miguel Maloney claims Jardín Vegetariano as his choice for satisfying his veggie needs. Our resident marathoner who proudly represents Jamaica appreciates the Chinese-owned, buffet-style vegetarian establishment both for its tasty eats as well as its budget-friendly prices.

“Wait a minute,” says Editorial Assistant Sophia Titley, “what about my favorite place—Avatar Indian Cuisine.” Owner Avatar Singh previously ran an Indian restaurant in Toronto, Canada, before relocating to Panama. On a mission to introduce Indian food to Central America, Avatar serves up pehla kadam (starters), tandoori treasures, seafood, vegetarian options, and of course, roti, from all regions of the Land of Diversity. “The flavors of India are uniquely paired with the ambiance of a swanky piano jazz bar,” raves Sophia. “It’s an experience you’ll not soon forget.”

“Isn’t Katané Speedy Pizza owned by Italians?” asks Leroy Bruster from the Web Team. Indeed it is, with some of the best pizzas in the city to prove it. Their sidewalk tables just off Vía Argentina are comfortably packed in the evenings—the authentic food and friendly owners keep everyone coming back for more.

And speaking of authentic, Taco T.’s real-deal Mexican tacos have made Matthew Marx, one of our Marketing Team’s newest members, a fan of both their San Francisco and Costa del Este locations.

“I also enjoy Picasso Café, Bar and Restaurante in Coronado,” he shares. “Lots of expats who live in the beach communities frequent the restaurant for the food and the party.”

Last but never least, CFO April Hess reports, “We have a favorite place here in Mariato, Veraguas, called La Fondita. It’s owned by Lidia Mariani, an expat from Italy. They make amazing pizzas and several classic Italian dishes including eggplant parmigiana and the best meatballs I have ever tasted. Great service with reasonable prices, too.”

Charles Conn