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The gradual renovation of Panama City’s old town, Casco Viejo, which has brought new restaurants, cafés, and hotels, is giving people a fresh reason to stay and eat in Panama City. For the most part,  travelers can sample tasty comida corriente (set meals) at restaurants across the country for less than $5.  When ordering fish, be specific about the preparations; the Panamanian ideal is fried until bone-dry.

Top Restaurants in Panama

Ciao Pescao

Plaza Bolívar is an elegant square named for the independence leader and lined with sidewalk tables where restaurateur Jorge Zarak owns three eateries: Ego Café (featuring Peruvian tapas); Narciso (Italian fare); and Ciao Pescao (ceviche). Recently the latter received a rare rave from Aristóloga, the much-feared food critic for Panama City's La Prensa. Grab a table outside at Ciao Pescao and sip one of the restaurant's seven flavors of mojitos or 38 types of beer.

Plaza Bolivar, 011-507-262-3700,


After dinner go to Granclément for a honey ice cream or mango sorbet. The gourmet shop employs traditional French technique to prepare its confections using only natural ingredients. Tubs of ice cream and meringues are also on offer.

Avenida Central, 011-507-208-0737,
Tags: ice cream

Manolo Caracol

Along Avenida Central, the Casco Viejo's thoroughfare, stop in Manolo Caracol, known for its 12-course market-fresh menu. Born in a fishing town in southern Spain, owner Manuel Madueño combines European, African, and Asian flavors with Latin American cuisine.

Avenida Central and Calle 3, 011-507-228-4640,
Tags: seafood

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