Diving right in here, please note that all of these were walking distance from our Airbnb apartment in Casco Viejo. I’m also only mentioning my favorites, there were other places we went but I liked these.
Pedro Mandinga Rum Bar: Well, I will obviously start with the bar we went to every night after enjoying it so much the first night. Delicious and creative rum cocktails, local Panamanian beer selection, and friendly service. This place is small but it is big enough and was popular with some locals as well as expat locals, and tourists (ahem, that would be us and whoever we brought in). I would go back again, no questions. It had a nice relaxed vibe that some of the other places didn’t (Casa Casco rooftop was fancy and sceney but the drinks were meh), yet was still lively. I really loved their rum Old Fashioned! Drinks are about $5-$9 from beer to cocktails. They had some fancier rums that I am sure were more, but the rum kept me happy. So overall, the prices were a bit less than Chicago cocktails but not cheap.
Tacos La Neta: Really good mole sauce here for topping tacos or whatever you order - I could have eaten it with a spoon. The menu is on the small side but that is not a problem, too many taco selections is sometimes overwhelming. There were vegan and vegetarian options in addition to the regular fish and meat tacos. They were delicious. I recommend this place. They also have a small cocktail list. I ordered a vegetarian taco, a fish taco, and a pork taco with a mezcal cocktail. Delicious. The prices were on the moderate side. None of us thought “this is cheap” but we also did not think we were being ripped off.
Donde Jose: Great service, interesting menu, and concept, great food, and flavors, but didn’t blow me away like La Degustation did. Maybe I’m being unfair? It was really tasty, I just wasn’t like “WOW, this is the best meal of my life”. I would definitely go back if I lived there - to try out the seasonal menu change. I would go back if I visited again, maybe not every time. About $60 per person, liquor is extra.
The Fish Market: We went to the smaller one, an outdoor dining space. It was delicious! I had fish tacos and an IPA from Panama. This taco join had fewer options for drinking and eating that Tacos La Neta but they were cooking from a food truck so we were expecting a small menu. It was still incredibly good! About the same prices as Tacos La Neta, around $12-$15 per person if you order one drink and tacos.
Mahalo: We ate lunch here our first full day. This place had a lot of healthy options, it reminded me of being in California or Hawaii (hence the name) and I always appreciate finding places like this. I ate the deconstructed burrito and had a Balboa here, and again, you can get a nice lunch and a drink here for under $15.
Granclement Ice Cream Shop: Post-tacos and pre-Pedro Mandinga nightcaps and oh god, pre-hostel bar drinking on our last night, we went here. YOLO, am I right? (I’ll never use that term again, promise) We ate and drank all of the things that evening. I had delicious sorbet and the other ladies had gelato. ALL OF IT was delicious. Prices were about what you would expect to pay for “fancy” ice-cream, $2 - $3. We each got a cup and one scoop. Cones were an option but I don’t do messy.
Medellin begins on Wednesday!