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  • Writer's picturePlaya Blanca

Fine Dining Restaurants You Have To Try In Panama

1. Dónde José

Dining at Dónde José is an experience. One of the top restaurants in Panama City, Dónde José serves a nightly fixed menu with optional wine pairings. The restaurant is small and offers two seatings per night, at 7:00 pm and 9:30 pm. So why all the fuss?

The menu includes a rotating array of beautifully prepared and innovative dishes. For example, razor clams and panko “sand” or combinations like scallops with cashew sauce. Apart from a menu, you’ll never find anywhere else, Chef José narrates the story of Panama through his cuisine. Local ingredients, family recipes, and Panamanian anecdotes all add a unique flair to this culinary experience.

The price tag for this dining extravaganza is not for the faint of heart. At around $80 per person and an extra $75 if you add the wine pairings, this is one of the more expensive meals in the city. But ask anyone who’s been, and they’ll tell you it’s well worth it.

2. Makoto

Chances are, you’ll be blown away by Makoto before you even see the menu. For one, the hospitality and service are fit for royalty. Secondly, the view. Makoto is situated in a charming garden on an 11th-floor rooftop. The restaurant’s interior is beautifully curated, and the setting can’t be beaten. Except, maybe, by the food.

Makoto’s highly-skilled sushi chefs whip up breathtaking dishes. All that put Panama’s local fresh seafood on display. Even for the sushi-averse, there is plenty to savor at Makoto. Finish your meal with an extra glass of wine or Japanese tea to savor the view long after you’ve finished eating.

3. Salvaje

Salvaje serves up gourmet Japanese cuisine with a twist. Far from your typical salmon avocado or spicy tuna rolls, Salvaje’s menu welcomes adventurous palates. Try the cobia sashimi for fish so tender it will melt in your mouth. Don’t miss the mushroom and wagyu dumplings, grilled avocado, or cauliflower tempura.

Your best bet is to make a reservation for a group and try as much of the menu as you can. When you can’t eat another bite, head upstairs to the rooftop bar. There you can take in the panoramic view of Panama City while indulging in one of Salvaje’s unique cocktail creations. Cheers!

4. Maito

Locals have been raving about Maito, located in Coco del Mar, for a while, and the world finally caught on. This year, Maito made the list of Latin America’s 50 best restaurants. Chef Castrellón shaped his fun and flavorful menu around a familiar concept: Panama. By exploring the different cuisines that make Panama, Chef Castrellón takes diners on a culinary adventure.

Not sure what to order? Go for the tasting menu to get a bit of everything. Sancocho stew, slow-roasted pork, and rice in squid ink are a few of the delicacies you can expect. Don’t let the laid back dining room fool you, though.

5. Azahar

Dining at Azahar feels like something out of a dream. Neglecting a typical entryway, you enter this stunning restaurant through a quaint flower shop. Once inside you’ll immediately feel at ease in the stylish minimal dining room. If you choose to sit outside, you also have access to a nice view of the city.

Once you’ve made yourself comfortable, it’s time to turn your attention to the menu. There is no shortage of creative and expert prepared Asian fusion dishes to choose from. The lobster soup and wagyu beef both come highly recommended. And no trip to Azahar would be complete without trying their incredible fresh sushi as well. Pair your meal with a special bottle of wine or custom cocktail and we promise you will not be disappointed.

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