Restaurante-Bar Las Tinajas (Calle 51 near Avenida Federico Boyd, tel. 263-7890 or 269-3840, 11 a.m.–11 p.m. daily, US$10–15) is an unabashed tourist restaurant. It’s worth checking out for its folkloric dance performances at 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The cover for the show is US$5 per person, and reservations are required. The cuisine is Panamanian and the restaurant is decorated to suggest a traditional town on the Azuero Peninsula.
The upscale Restaurante Barandas (Calle Aquilino de la Guardia between Calle 51 and Calle 52, tel. 264-0000 or 265-7844, 6:30 a.m.–11 p.m. daily) in the Bristol hotel is noted for its nouvelle Panamanian cuisine. Traditional Panamanian fixtures such as carimañolas (fried, meat-stuffed rolls), corvina, and yuca are given the fusion treatment, with unusual sauces and generally lighter, healthier recipes.
The executive chef is Coquita Arias de Calvo, who has her own local cooking show, books, and magazine. She is sort of Panama’s answer to Martha Stewart. The dining room is formal and quite pleasant.
Food is not always consistent here, but I’ve had no complaints on my last few visits. Tip: Barandas offers a delicious three-course Sunday brunch (11:30 a.m.–1 p.m.) with all-you-can-drink Chandon champagne. It costs US$30 but is a good-value splurge.
© William Friar from Moon Panama, 3rd Edition