Eat like a local: Traditional Food in Panama

Panama is not known internationally for it's cuisine, yet Panama's traditional food scene has a wide variety of delicious meat, fish and veggie options.

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Ceviche
Ceviche is fish such as corvina (or with a mix of shrimps and octopus) is “cooked” in a mixture of lime juice, peppers, onions and culantro for 24 to 48 hours. It's server alongside crackers or fried plantains. Enjoy your ceviche on a tropical day in combination with a cold local beer such as Balboa.

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Sancocho
Maybe the most famous traditional dish in Panama and widely available throughout the country; Sancocho. Sancocho is a soup which consists of chicken, ñame and culantro. There are many variations in which corn or other vegetables are added.  Often served in combination with white rice. Perfect for lunch, dinner or after a night of drinking.

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Carimañolas
Simple and delicious; deep-fried crunchy rolls made out of Yuca and ground beef. Mainly eaten as breakfast. Sold at local restaurants, take-outs and street vendors. 

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Hojaldra
Available in every traditional restaurant or cafe and eaten during breakfast. Hojaldra is fried bread (dough) which can be accompanied by local cheese, cinnamon sugar or with "salchicha" (Sausage). 

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Tamales
In Panama, the tamale is usually made from banana leaves and is cooked with a corn dough mixed with raisins and a little broth. Then it is stuffed with chicken or pork.

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Patacones
Patacones are slices of fried plantains often used as a side dish (just like fries). However, there are a wide variety of options. Our personal favorite are the patacones with garlic shrimps. 

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Empanadas
Fried or oven baked pastries filled with meat, chicken or cheese. Delicious for breakfast, lunch or as a snack.

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Raspao
Panama's traditional shaved ice with condensed milk and flavored syrups. Mainly available from street vendors across the city, on Avenida Balboa, Amador, and other touristic places. 

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Arroz con Pollo
Arroz con Pollo literally means Rice with Chicken, and is nothing more than that. Panamanians are definitely the best in preparing it. You will find local variations of this dish in restaurants but also in family homes.