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Panama City’s El Cangrejo neighborhood is a walkable melting pot of artistic delight, coffee culture, a diverse smorgasbord of dining, and plenty of pubs to indulge in libations. Major streets include Via Argentina—Panama City’s restaurant row—and Via Veneto—home of the famous Veneto Hotel and Casino. Here are the neighborhood’s other essential things to see and do.
Start your day with a bottomless cup of coffee paired with a divine, freshly baked bagel at New York Bagel Café. The convenient location of this praised staple among locals, visitors, and expats alike, puts you right where you need to be for a day spent exploring the eclectic hub of El Cangrejo in Panama City. While there, pop into Pronoia, the quaint, local art shop inside, just to the left of the order counter.
Pose for a picture next to Albert Einstein’s enormous sculpted head, which is in front of the entrance to New York Bagel Café, just across the street. Be sure to wait until traffic clears to make your way across. Pedestrians don’t exactly have the right of way in Panama, so it’s best that you proceed with caution.
A delightful gem of peaceful greenery in the heart of El Cangrejo is the much-adored park, Parque Andres Bello. Always abuzz with children on the playground, exercise groups getting their Zumba on, and casual basketball games underway on the court, passersby are sure to get a glimpse of the lively local community here. Also featured are an adult playground full of workout equipment, an enclosed area with safe playground fun for smaller children, and a leash-free, gated dog zone for Fido to get his fetch on.
El Mundo del Pan (world of bread) offers an incredible lunch special every day for an unbelievable low price. Along with the daily special, this neighborhood staple also offers a full list of sandwiches. Continue the coffee buzz here with a fresh cup for one dollar. Many delectable pastries are on offer for less than a dollar, too. In fact, here it is possible to grab lunch for two and satisfy a sweet tooth for less than 10 dollars easily.
It’s five o’clock somewhere, and at La Rana Dorada, no one is judging with a generous Happy Hour from noon to 6 p.m. offering half off all craft beers. This is a must-visit for the craft beer lover, as La Rana Dorada is one of Panama’s oldest craft brewers. The brewery warehouse, Cerveceria La Rana Dorada, boasts an extended happy hour from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, and 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday.
Take a break to pause and reflect at Eleven with a spot on the balcony, overlooking the passersby on the foot traffic-heavy street of Via Argentina. While there, enjoy a cocktail, bucket of local Panamanian beer, or shareable appetizer, all of which are sure to satisfy for a quick breather before continuing to explore El Cangrejo.
Located on Via Veneto in El Cangrejo, this exclusive, intimate nightlife zone requires a password to enter from inside the taco joint, Mordida del Burro. While there, feast on delectable tacos wherever is most comfortable—the same menu is available in the restaurant and the speakeasy.
This rooftop bar in El Cangrejo is just off the ever-popular Via Argentina, and if timed right, it is the perfect place to catch a view of the cityscape under the setting sun. Panama City offers a majestic sunset, and The Roof offers a most unobstructed view. The Roof is located at the top of the Best Western Plus Panama Zen Hotel.
If music is a must on the itinerary, Live Karaoke on Via Argentina is a go-to karaoke bar. Live music can also be found at the local pub, Pavo Real, which offers a taste of where locals hang out. For the more artistic crowd, Armonica is part-art house, part-brew house, plus hamburgers.
This 24-hour diner has a menu so diverse, it’s possible to visit several times without ever having the same thing twice. Del Prado’s specialty list includes a selection of fresh and frothy fruit juices. Still hungry? El Cangrejo is a hub of restaurants galore for every taste bud imaginable. A few you’ll find on most lists include El Trapiche for authentic Panamanian cuisine, Angel for a more intimate, fine dining experience, El Caribe for a Caribbean twist on traditional Panamanian fare, and Churreria Manolo for any meal of the day, a generous pour for the wine lovers, and the most divine churros. Cap off with a delicious coffee and dessert at the local café and artisan bakery of choice, Mentiritas Blancas.