Dining in Panama City’s Historic District of Casco Viejo
Casco Viejo, Panama City‘s historic district, is an uncommon blend of old and new. It is one of Panama City’s most recent upgrades, renovated at hyper speed to welcome countless new hotels and restaurants in the last 5 years.
The rapidly changing area is still home to many locals, but Casco Viejo now also hosts world travelers, entrepreneurs, artists, musicians, and anybody looking for the most convenient way to access Panama City. One of the best ways to get acquainted with this small historic district is by taste.
Coffee & Chocolate
Start with local coffee at the new American Trade Hotel’s Café Unido. If you have a sweet tooth, try some local chocolate from the Bocas del Toro region. This treasured specialty is rich and mild, with a load of cultural significance behind the flavors. Café Unido also offers a spread of ornate pastries, cookies, and muffins to satisfy your cravings.
Microbreweries have popped up all over Central America in recent years, and Casco Viejo is exactly the place you’d expect to find one. La Rana Dorada brews a collection of beers in-house and offers complimentary flights (a selection of samples) so drinkers can make an informed decision on their order. You’ll be tempted to pair your beer with Rana Dorado’s signature pizzas. Sit back and watch a match with the regulars on a warm afternoon. If you’re feeling homesick this is a great place to recharge.
Sashimi and Beyond
Try Aki for the freshest Japanese cuisine in Panama. We recommend sampling the sashimi – a perfect appetizer before an intimate dinner. After you’ve had your fill of yellowtail, walk to nearby Las Clementinas Hotel, one of Casco Viejo’s veteran boutique hotels and restaurants. Madrigal and Grapes are classic sure bets, but foodies looking for something new can head to ZaZa.
Ceviche is a quintessential Panamanian dining experience. There’s even a sign at the international airport that says something along the lines of “welcome: please enjoy our ceviches.” That means that it’s a must! The Fish Market, right between Casco Viejo and the waterfront, will give you the authentic Panamanian food experience of your dreams. You’ll see regulars fill the small tables outside as they share food, sip beers, and catch up. There are many vendors to choose between and up to 30 different kinds of ceviche per stall. If you really want the full picture, see the market in action at 4:00am and dodge all the sea bass flying past your head.
Panama loves rum.
Panama loves rum. To start, sip on some Abuelo No. 7 on the rocks, an obligatory experience even for non-drinkers. Tantalo Kitchen and Rooftop Bar allows sweeping views of the glittering skyline for the ideal photo op. Many nights of the week the city’s younger crowd congregates here, holding their drinks up high as a DJ pumps beats into the balmy air. For something more low-key, check out Mojitos Sin Mojitos – a relative dive bar compared to the numerous high-energy hot spots around Casco Viejo. This is a great place for anyone who wants to avoid the party but still have a great time.
The dining scene is a huge part of Casco Viejo’s new identity. World-class food and drink give the historic district a new edge and travelers are beginning to catch on. So go on, grab a bite!