The best 6 restaurants in Panama City, Panama
Courtesy of Matt at the Panama Report
It's rare in Panama City, or really anywhere in the world for that matter, to make reservations at one restaurant and have the subsequent option of dining at six.
But after talking to Gary Doherty, a Wisconsin transplant and owner of a new enormously eclectic restaurant in El Cangrejo, the concept for a restaurant as such seemed anything but complex.
"We wanted to offer guests the ability to dine in six different tropical ambiances," Doherty said quite matter-of-factly as if the challenge of defining one restaurant theme was nothing more than childsplay. From a cushioned wicker chair on the patio in this, the Bombay portion of Pangea's world tour, Doherty explained the goal of Pangea was to be unique, and unique it most certainly is. Located in a primarily residential portion of El Cangrejo, the semi-hidden entryway guards arguably Panama City's most diverse dining experience.
We showed up for dinner around 8PM and immediately ran into several unexpected groups of friends having cocktails at the Singapore bar, which has the feel of a dark and cozy old-school Malaysian lounge. Though I've never been to Singapore, I couldn't help but envision, perhaps stereotypically, a team of drunken businessmen in unbuttoned suits, some singing karaoke and others keeled over the bar passed out. Then I realized it was my friends who were the inspiration.
A testament to that which would no doubt earn a failing grade in elementary geography, in Pangea it is the Singapore lounge that sits next to Nairobi, adjacent to which is Habana, then Morocco, then Rio, and ultimately of course (because what else would you expect to border a city of carnival celebrations, samba, Bossa Nova and hotel-lined tourist beaches?), the heartland of Bombay. The charm of Pangea's dÃ©cor is in its unpredictability: a sense of capriciousness that is, to a great extent, represented in its food.
Although it's easy to be skeptical of a restaurant offering pages and pages and pages of widely diverse international specialties, the menu at Pangea is as consistent as it is surprising. The Peruvian style ceviche was one of our table favorites as was the Chiriqui Beef served with a zesty chimichurri, and the Bombay chicken, which, according to waiters, was among the most popular dishes at the time. Besides the VIP rooms, bar and terrace, Pangea also boasts a disco room that gets cranking later in the evening.
After several hours of dinner, drinks and cigars (Cubans are available in a humidor appropriately located close to the La Habana room), there's a tendency to sort of forget where you are and what time it is. We had crossed several continents, various lines of longitude, time zones, and ended up going out the same door we entered through. Which is to say, if Pangea isn't representative of the Republic of Panama as a crossroads of international trade, culture, and history, than I don't know what is. It's a welcomed addition to Panama City's ever-evolving culinary scene: a place that offers something other than the archetypal overpriced Miamified fare.
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Bistra is the owner of Optimized Computer Services. The leading Internet Marketing agency in Panama
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Views expressed in the article are those of the author and are not necessarily the opinions of CaribbeanChoice, its staff or members.