The magnificent spread of vegetarian options at Casa Vegetariana, presented behind glass along a cafeteria-style counter, is easy to get carried away with; luckily, at such a cheap price per portion, your wallet will still be as full as your stomach when you walk out the doors. The choices range splendidly through proteins (tofu, wheat gluten, seitan, mushrooms, and beans), fresh vegetables cooked with traditionally Asian flavorings or chopped into avocado-topped salads, and a few simple desserts. Some items are crispy and deep-fried, others are vitamin-packed and oil-free, the sushi is rolled thick and the bao dumplings are stuffed with fillings savory and sweet. Juices are at a low price similar to all the other options, but glasses of water, cups of tea, and a bowl of soup are all complimentary with any purchase.
Steam rises from enormous fresh pita breads while smoke rises from sweet-smelling hookahs at Beirut, a Lebanese restaurant decked out in imitations of classical stonework and mosaic tables from the fountain on its shaded patio to the columns dotting the spacious interior. The menu lists treats like falafel and dolmas, dips like hummus, baba ganoush, and foul, soups, salads, meat and seafood dishes, Lebanese oven specials and pasta plates including plantain gnocchi. At the end of a delectably flavored meal, guests might be lucky enough to enjoy a complementary sweet mint tea to ideally wrap up the experience.
In the heart of Panama City's nightlife scene, the sultry scents and blissful flavors of Middle Eastern cuisine fill the dining room at Habibi's up to the white canopy-draped ceiling and spill out to the tables placed on the open-air roofed porch. Hookahs and various drinks make great accompaniments to mainly Lebanese cuisine; light fare includes treats like hummus or baba ganoush with hot pita bread or baklava for customers in the mood for a sweet. Heartier meals include falafel and shish kabobs, or more familiar fare such as pizza, pasta dishes, and Cajun chicken. Patrons are often treated to the shimmies and jingles of a talented belly dancer on Friday and Saturday nights.
Although squarely located in the oldest neighborhood in Panama City, Café Havana masterfully recreates legendary Cuban panache from the rhythms of salsa music to the very full bar. The waiters, smartly dressed in white button-up shirts and stylish jeans, are the epitome of hospitality and usher arrivals inside to enjoy hearty meat dishes, ceviche, commanding mixed drinks, and the daily special. As the night continues, they're delighted to chat about the beautiful photographs and paintings of Cuban personalities that hang on the walls under the modern hoop chandelier that serves as a centerpiece.
Patrons step into the territory of Bora Bora Bar & Grill under a sign supported by two posts dressed up like palm trees, and are promptly greeted by a disco ball dangling from the ceiling of the dining room. Before the party really begins, however, tables of tasteful diners enjoy an impressive fusion cuisine utilizing European and Asian elements to prepare traditionally Panamanian dishes. Try the lobster-stuffed patacones, various linguinis and seafood preparations, and be sure to finish the meal with a conceptually fascinating and realistically delicious dessert like cheesecake with guayaba topping or coconut-vanilla flan with peaches.
If the seafood creations at Eurasia represent a zenith of contemporary international fusion cuisine, then the pastry table usually installed near the entrance is surely the icing on top. The menu draws from typically Asian flavorings to add intrigue to favorite dishes of fine European dining and the excellent service assures a dining experience worth repeating. The elegant setting begins with marble floors, rises to opulent art gracing the walls, and climbs Spanish-styled ironwork to the high ceilings above. A small tropical garden behind the restaurant adds a lovely natural touch to the impeccable style of the establishment, open since 2002. Reservations are suggested.
It is not easy to decide between the tables set outside on the historical Plaza Bolívar or the white-cushioned leather seating inside the elegant dining room of Restaurante Casa Blanca. It is situated on the ground floor of Hotel Columbia in the old San Felipe neighborhood, where waiters in classy button-up shirts and dress pants scoot efficiently between the kitchen and the Plaza across the street carrying salads, sandwiches, hamburgers, seafood, and meat dishes. Excellent accompaniments include an extensive wine list and treats like an imported cheese platter or mushrooms cooked with mozzarella, serrano, or garlic. Performances of live acoustic music add their allure on Wednesday and Saturday nights.
Just beside the Parque Andrés Bello is situated another place you might go to appreciate a bit of nature, even if only in name. Los Cedros has a bright and welcoming atmosphere boldly hued in clean silvers, oranges, and greens, plus open-air seating out on the patio with its lush leaves spilling out towards the sidewalk. There are plenty of tables inside too, and free wireless internet helps keep busy schedules on track; meanwhile, the executive set menu provides extra incentive to fit a decent lunch into even the busiest day.
Set within the Bristol Hotel, Salsipuedes Cocina & Bar seeks to offer diners a taste of Panama's colorful, energetic and joyful culture on a plate. The menu is composed of a selection of refined local dishes, created with skill and an artistic flair. Try the portobelo carpachio, crocodile in sweet and sour sauce, and the tuna with passion fruit. The ambiance is elegant, sophisticated and warm, perfect for a business dinner, or even an intimate meal with loved ones.
Named for head chef and owner, Glend Gentile, Gentile Café Gourmet is a contemporary gourmet dining destination within Zen Plaza. The Costa Del Este eatery offers an eclectic menu that features international flavors and recipes from all over the world. The modern bistro provides a distinct setting that's perfect for both, a business lunch or a relaxed family-style dinner. The offerings look and taste gorgeous, along with these, they also have a well-considered wine-list. The service is good, the food is exquisite and the ambiance is perfect, as well, all in all, Gentile Café Gourmet makes for a pleasant dine, indeed.
Tucked away on Avenida 14C Norte, BBQ Love Club is a small barbecue joint who won the 2014 Panama BBQ Fest. Their creative dry rub ribs and burgers are packed with flavor. Their smoked meat will fall off as it is tender and perfectly spiced. If you can't space to dine-in, you can definitely take out their delicious dishes. Please bring cash along as credit cards are not accepted.