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Panama City for two vacationing New York artists?
January 25, 2012 8:27 AM   Subscribe

Four days Panama City, Panama! Please, Panamanians and recent visitors, tell these New Yorkers on vacation where to eat and shop and hang out? (And, of course, should we take a day and transit the Canal?)

Details:
- We like to walk and don't mind gritty neighborhoods.
- We like street food and fine dining equally.
- One of us speaks fluent Spanish.
- We're staying in an apartment in Casco Viejo, and
- we'll have had more than a week of forest trekking and beach-going beforehand, so are in need of an urban adventure.

We've checked out the Moon & Lonely Planet sites, and earlier AskMeFi questions from 2009 and 2008.

Thanks!
posted by minervous to Travel & Transportation around Panama, Panama (4 answers total)
 
I haven't been back in over 10 years, but if you get a chance to transit the canal, do it. It's a great experience. I grew up there, and I never did it.
I know Albrook has a mall now, which wasn't there when I was growing up (during the years before, during, and after Operation Just Cause), but I heard it's pretty nice and worth checking out.
I 'm hesitant to recommend restaurants, because it's been so long since I've been back, but Panama has lots of great dining options. For Brazilian, check out Churascaria Rodizio; If it's still there, it's in the Paitilla area. Also, there used to be a place out at the end of the Amador Causeway called Mi Ranchito; they had great Panamanian food (lots of seafood), at good prices. Also, be sure to grab an emapananda from the street vendors (if you can); they usually have beef or cheese empananadas an option. Raspado, Panama's shaved ice, was also popular back in the day, and should be obtained if you get the chance. Lastly, for good Chinese, my favorite was Madame Chang. I forget the exact location, but if it's still there, it's the spot for good chinese food (sit down, not take out, although you could order to go if you wanted to).
You may not mind the gritty neighborhoods, but be sure to steer clear of them. There are plenty of non-gritty places to see.
Casco Viejo is nice. There will be plenty of places to eat in that area as well, and it's nice to walk around and check out the old-style architecture and buildings.
Have a great trip! I hope you enjoy it and have lots of fun!
posted by KillaSeal at 9:26 AM on January 25, 2012


(Disclaimer: I've only been in Panama a few weeks, so I'm not too familiar with what there is to find.)

Mi Ranchito on the causeway is great and has a wonderful view. There is a nice French restaurant called 1985 in the Cangrejo district. If you're in that area, there is a coffee shop that is home to many expats called New York Bagel. It's easy to find because it's next to a big statue of Einstein's head. There's a really wonderful little coffee shop that just opened on Ancon hill called Country Store that gets a lot of monkey traffic. I've heard really good things about Market and Manolo Caracol (which has a chef-chosen menu that changes daily, and is in Casco Viejo), but I haven't been to either.

Also, I know you said you're ok with gritty neighborhoods, but please be careful here (and I've lived in a lot of gritty places). Panama's income inequality is really shocking, as half of the city is skyscrapers and nice houses and the other half is 3rd-world poverty. Casco Viejo (which isn't even a gritty neighborhood) is notorious for pickpocketings at night.

And yes! The canal is super cool.

Hmmm... if I think of any other cool things to do here I'll let you know.
posted by ke rose ne at 10:10 AM on January 25, 2012


Consider these recent articles: one of the 45 places to go in 2012, and 36 hours in Panama City.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 10:25 AM on January 25, 2012


We flew to Bocas Del Toro from Panama City (domestic flight-it's a tiny tiny airport!!). If you are there for a week-you may enjoy spending a day or two there.

There are interesting places to eat (or get ice cream!) on the causeway-I really liked that area.

Have fun!
posted by duddes02 at 11:05 AM on January 25, 2012


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