15 Delicious Dishes Worth Making a Trip to Panama For

Night market food | © Kevin Tao/Flickr
Night market food | © Kevin Tao/Flickr
Photo of Brittney Schering
23 December 2017

Panama is home to an incredible selection of restaurants. Here are 15 delicious dishes worth taking a trip to Panama for that will give you an extraordinary culinary experience.

Turkey dinner

Turkey is prepared with a Panamanian twist on holidays like Christmas. Locals skip the stuffing and gravy and replace those flavors with their own Latin spices. The turkey’s own jus and a combination of finely chopped and minced vegetables makes the zesty sauce they pour over the turkey after it’s been sliced.

Roasted turkey | © Kimberly Vardeman / Flickr

Arroz con pollo

This is practically a certified Panamanian staple that you must try if you come—it’s a simple recipe of rice with chicken, nothing more, nothing less, and truly Panamanian.

Arroz con pollo | © LWYang/Flickr


Sancocho is a traditional Panamanian soup with chicken and a variety of vegetables in a hearty broth. Try it at New York Bagel Café or El Trapiche in El Cangrejo—each restaurant has its own signature twist on this beloved Panamanian dish.

Sancocho de Gallina Criolla | © WIKIRAICES / Wikicommons


As with any Caribbean country, the seafood in Panama is always fresh and you’ll simply have to try the many variations of delicious, zesty ceviche.

Local ceviche | © LWYang/Flickr


Patacones are mashed and fried plantains and the Panamanian alternative to fries or chips.

Patacones with hogao | © Marcelo Träsel/Flickr


Papas means potatoes in Spanish, and in Panama they’re served in a variety of ways. Try them all if you’re a potato lover and you will not be disappointed as Panama has some of the best, freshest potatoes you’ll ever eat.


Leave your diet on the doorstep and bring your sweet tooth because Panama knows how to make a melt-in-your-mouth churro.

Churros from Toro Salao restaurant | © vxla/ Flickr


A raspao is the Panamanian version of a snow cone—shaved ice with a sugary, flavored syrup poured on top. Perfect for the Panamanian heat, a raspao is an incredibly refreshing, light and sweet cool-down treat.

Nada de Frappe o Frozen, aquí se dice es Raspao o Cepillao…

All the bread

Pan means bread in Spanish, and PANama is loaded with bakeries that make undeniably delicious variations of bread from bagels to pastries to buns and loafs of love. Bread is a staple in Panama you won’t be able to skip.

Fresh bread at Mayfield Bakery & Cafe | © Jun Seita / Flickr


Visit El Cangrejo’s most epic taco joint, Mordida de Burro, for the best tacos in Panama. Served in every variety your stomach can possibly desire, from traditional to fish to vegetarian, they’re all incredible.

Tacos | © savortonight/Pixabay

Fresh fish

Whether you like it grilled, fried, baked, or any other way, Panama is home to the most delicious fish. Caught fresh daily and sold to the local fish markets, you can buy your own to cook at home or order it at a restaurant—either way, your Panamanian fish dish will be the freshest you’ve ever tasted.

A delicious plate of Mojarra Frita, coconut rice, and patacones | © Fabien Girardin/Flickr


Panama is a pizza hub where several pie houses make their own versions of the dish with the freshest local ingredients.


Panamanian diets include chicken as a staple so often that it is not even considered meat. It’s different and special and you’ll see why when you try any chicken dish in Panama.

Jerk Chicken | © Naotake Murayama/Flickr

French toast

Don’t forget to try the French toast at Panama’s New York Bagel Café. It is rich and fluffy in the very best way.


The most famous food truck in Panama is Esa Flaca Rica, known for its signature burger. Get in line!

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