5 Things You Need to Eat on Your Next Trip to Panama!




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If you’re planning on taking a trip to Panama, whether scouting for a move or just a vacation, you’re going to want to get a good taste of the country’s food. Trying new, local, and traditional foods when you travel is part of the fun! It’s also part of the fun of relocating to Panama or retiring here. New experiences call for lots of trial and error, and with so many great things to eat in Panama, you’re sure to find the perfect food for you. To help you get started, however, we’ve got a few recommendations.

 

1. Fried Chicken With Yucca.

Of course, fried chicken is not uniquely Panamanian, nor is it likely to be something you’ve never tried before. It is, however, one of the most delicious staple food treats in Panama, where it’s done in Panamanian style and served with yucca. You can get fantastic fried chicken from street carts, local fondas (cafeterias), and in most fast food or quick service restaurants. It’s served with fries or (more traditionally) fried yucca sticks, and is a fried treat that can’t be missed, even if you’re here for a short time.

2. Hojaldras.

This is Panama’s version of a typical breakfast pastry, and it’s to die for if you have a sweet tooth, and love pastries for breakfast. Hojaldras are essentially fried dough, much like a donut, in a flat shape that can fit into your hand. It’s often covered in sugar or powdered sugar, and almost always is accompanied by a hot coffee. These delicious treats are served at every restaurant that serves Panamanian breakfast, cost less than a dollar each, and can be purchased at coffee stands and street service carts as well.

3. Sancocho.

A bowl of Sancocho is a lot more than just a traditional Central American stew. It’s also comfort food that reminds Panamanians of home, and is often used as a remedy for feeling sick (or even homesick!). Sancocho is made with chicken or beef thigh for flavor, potatoes, corn, carrots, and spices. You can also have it with tomatoes, onions, scallops, and other root veggies at times. Sancocho is eaten as an appetizer at many Panamian restaurants, a lunch, or a late night grub after a night on the town enjoying bars and nightlife. Home made sancocho is best, but you’re bound to have a local restaurant that will be just as good, within steps of where you live.

4. Bistec Picado.

In many ways, this is Panama’s version of a “stir fry”, and is just as hearty, healthy, and delicious. The dish consists of finely chopped steak and onions, sauteed and cooked with a brown sauce, served with rice, veggies, beans, and sometimes a side salad. This is a hearty meal that tends to cost under $10, and be very filling. The meat is soft and tender, and cooked with Caribbean spices that won’t burn you, but will give you a nice flavor kick. Like all of the foods on this list, this dish is widely available in practically every Panamanian restaurant, fonda, and hotel.

5. Raspao.

Technically, this isn’t food, but it is a Panamanian classic treat, and one you CAN’T MISS while you’re here. A “raspao” is essentially a slang term for “raspado” which means “shaved.” Raspao are shaved ice cones with fruit flavorings, served in small paper cups typically. These are almost exclusively sold at carts in the street, parks, and beaches. They cost 25-50 cents, and are a great way to refresh yourself after a day in the sun, or just a lazy stroll. This is a kid favorite, but adults also flock to this icy treat as it reminds them of home, and a happy life!

About Manoj Chatlani


Manoj Chatlani is a Senior Partner at POLS Attorneys, a full-service law firm in Panama City, Panama. Specializing in offshore services, including asset protection, estate planning, offshore banking, and offshore corporations, as well as Panama immigration and real estate transactions, Panama Offshore Legal Services offers clients a streamlined solution to all their Panama legal needs. Manoj is a Panamanian lawyer and holds a law degree from USMA and earned a Masters in Communication Law and Panama Tax law.

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