Panama is a very vegetarian-friendly place, with plenty of plant-based eateries to choose from all over the capital city, from El Cangrejo to Clayton. But one thing to note: if you ask whether a dish has “carne,” which translates to meat, keep in mind that “carne” does not include chicken, turkey, fish, etc. The Spanish understanding of “meat” only includes beef and pork. Instead ask, “Es vegetariano?” for the answer you seek. Buen Provecho!
El Jardin Vegetariano
Restaurant, Diner, Asian, Vegetarian, Vegan, Chinese, South American
The quiet, casual café El Jardin Vegetariano is a budget-friendly favorite for Panamanian veggies. Located on the popular Via Veneto street in El Cangrejo, this small restaurant offers delectable, fresh vegetarian food served buffet-style. Customers pay a small amount for each item they choose from the buffet, with a final cost tallied at the cashier, at the end of the buffet line. El Jardin Vegetariano is quaint and unassuming, but it is a spectacular, near five-star rated place for vegetarian dining in Panama.
Another vegetarian-friendly dining favorite in El Cangrejo is Avatar Indian Cuisine, located on Via Argentina. With a large menu that caters to all diet preferences from the meat eater to the vegan, Avatar Indian Cuisine differentiates between the types of food on offer with distinct pages designated for each food preference. With a few pages dedicated to vegetarians and another for those who eat seafood, as well as pages for meat eaters who prefer chicken and another for those who eat pork, Avatar has all its bases covered without question. The menu is beautiful, detailed, and easy to navigate by preference. The only question left is what meal you’ll choose among all the tantalizing options.
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Located inside Clayton Mall is the Sattva Wellness Bar, which offers a menu of vegan cuisine as well as American and Panamanian fare. Sattva also boasts an organic juice bar, as well as fusion food options. Come in for breakfast, brunch, healthy snacks, hearty smoothies, frothy frappes, cold-pressed juices, cold-brew coffee, and delectable desserts.
Restaurant, Cafe, Asian, Vegan, Vegetarian, Chinese
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Vegan toast at Dwell | Courtesy of Dwell
A popular vegetarian eatery in Panama is the vegan counter-service chain Loving Hut. This restaurant is unique in the way that it offers Asian-accented food with unique options that vary by location. With an impressive selection of protein options on offer, many Panamanians swear that Loving Hut is the best vegan place in Panama, with satisfying dishes at reasonable prices.
Back to Via Argentina in El Cangrejo, the 24-hour diner, Del Prado, offers literally a little bit of everything. Consequently, Del Prado is the place to go when you don’t know what you’re hungry for, or you’re dining with a group who can’t agree on one specific type of food. The menu consists of several pages full of everything from breakfast to sandwiches, salads, pastas, fish dishes, meat-centered meals, and traditional Panamanian fare. Also on offer for those who arrive thirsty are delicious fresh-squeezed fruit juices, smoothies, milkshakes, coffee drinks, and more.