The all-time, well-priced classic? El Trapiche! With its principal branch along Via Argentina as well as an outpost at Albrook Mall, El Trapiche has all of the classics! Go here for sancocho (typical Panamanian chicken soup), corvina (sea bass) and fried yucca (a tuber typical in the region), limonada con raspadura (sugar-cane lemonade), tamal de olla (a tamale soup) among other classics. El Trapiche also serves the typical Panamanian breakfast: hojaldre (fried dough without the sugar – also referred to as a Panamanian pancake on some menus) and a thin beefsteak. Talk about a hearty start to the morning! The restaurant is typically filled with as many locals as tourists.
For gourmet Panamanian cuisine, I love Riesen. Owned by a young Panamanian chef and operated on the first floor of his home, the menu offers inventive twists that give new life to Panamanian classics and local ingredients. I particularly enjoy the appetizers here - churros made from ñame root, hojaldres dressed with pork and guava barbeque sauce, daintly prepared torrejas de maiz (corn fritters) . . . and leave space for dessert! The Mama Lllena, literally the full mama, is a rum drenched, delicious Panamanian bread pudding creation. The menu changes monthly and the restaurant is small – I’d recommend making reservations beforehand. This is our go-to splurge restaurant when we have visitors in town.