The College of Saint Rose and UDELAS in Panama

A partnership about education, culture and the exchange of ideas

Cheap, delicious food in Panamá? Sí

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Complimentary breadsticks with dipping sauces

The food in Panamá is a traditional collection of fried, salty, delicious food.  Panamá is known for their mariscos (fish.)  On every corner, you can find a vendor selling soup, fried whole fish and soft drinks.  Although I have only been here for a week, it is easy to become accustomed to the traditional Panamanian cuisine.  My hostal is located near the Punta Pacifica neighborhood where there are many expensive restaurants and bars.  An average cost of food at any expensive restaurant in the city is approximately $16-$20.  I know this may not sound like our normal five star restaurants in the states; however, I refuse to pay a lot for food when I have eaten a full plate of food (rice, beans, chili, plantains and salad) for $2.50…including a can of Kist- Panama’s Fanta!  Therefore, it is possible to keep your money tight and enjoy delicious food for cheap prices.

Throughout my week, I have eaten some traditional Panamanian foods such as churros, patacones, platanos, sancocho, empanadas de carne, y brochetas de carne.  First I’d like to start with patacones panameños.  Patacones are green plantains that are cut and fried.  If you are traveling to Panamá, these are a must.  I have a picture of my delicious, salty patacones.  Platanos are a traditional Spanish plantain.  The platanos I ate were ducle (sweet) and crispy around the edges.  Sancocho is a soup made with many vegetables and beef or chicken.  You can find sancocho at street vendors.  I was lucky enough to taste this soup at the school I am working in.  It cost me $0.50 for a medium size soup bowl.  I thought it had a delicious flavor.  I have tried Empanadas in Argentina and this was my first time tasting Panamanian empanadas.  As a recent traveler to Argentina, I must say the Panamanian empanadas are delicious as well.  I paid $0.45 for one empanada with meat (con carne) and it was flat with a little sweet meat.  One night we went to Causeway Amador for dinner.  Causeway is a strip of restaurants at the end of the city.  This is by far one of my favorite areas of Panamá.  I felt safe and the food was delicious.  I ordered a brocheta de carne.  This is an exact replica of a shish kabob in the states.  The meat was absolutely delicious and spiced perfectly.  The skewer consisted of 4-5 chunks of beef, sweet peppers, and onions.  Churros are a traditional dessert.  I ate a churro with melted caramel in the middle, along with powdered sugar on the outside.  This by far is my favorite thing I have tried.  Unfortunately, I have a food allergy to certain shellfish and I tend not to order any type of fish when dining out; however, my roommates have tried cerviche, fried fish, and brochetas with bacon-wrapped scallops.  They loved the cerviche and said the fish was fresh and cooked well. 

Fruit is extremely cheap in Panamá as well.  Typical Panamanian fruit is pineapples, mangos, coconuts, and different types of melon.  A whole pineapple costs $1.00 from a fruit market on the street.  During this week, I have met some interesting people.  Adan, a student at the University, allowed me to record a video of him explaining typical Panamanian food and much more. (I will try to upload it.)  Adan said the food is mostly fried, salty, and cheap; however, I have been spending a lot of money on food and need to find those little restaurants with traditional, homemade, cheap food!   So far, I believe Panamá’s food is delicious.  The food is cheap as long as you find the right restaurants.  I recommend street vendors and the mall for great, cheap food. With three weeks to go, I will add specific restaurant names as soon as I find them!


1 Comment»

  cziamandanis wrote @

Marianne, It is funny how foods originate in one area, and then are carried to another, where they are modified and almost end up seeming to belong to the new host country. Churros may have originated in Spain, but they are made wholly Panamanian with the addition of caramel and powdered sugar. Likewise, shish kebabs originate in the Middle East, and usually consisted of lamb on a skewer. While we serve them in the US with just about any meat and numerous veggies, they are not homegrown “American” food.

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