Cafeterias and Diners
If you’re just looking for a simple place for breakfast or a snack, try Churrería Manolo (Vía Argentina 12 at Avenida 2B Norte, tel. 264-3965, 7 a.m.–1 a.m. daily, under US$5). Though it’s been given a rather austere remodeling, it still has an unpretentious coffee-shop atmosphere that has attracted both locals and resident foreigners for years. (It was one of my haunts in high school.)
It’s hard to explain our fondness for this place. The food quality goes up and down; the only things you can really count on are the churros (a sugary fried pastry shaped like a hot dog). The yummiest churro is the manjar blanco—the filling is similar to condensed milk and looks disgusting, but it’s so tasty it’ll curl your toes. For a real sugar buzz, order the churros along with Spanish hot chocolate (chocolate a la española), which is thick and delicious.
Mainly, though, Manolo is just a relaxing place to hang out on one of the few streets in Panama City that strike a nice balance between bustle and mellowness. A full breakfast costs less than US$3. After breakfast, sandwiches are the best bet. Other offerings include pasta, meat, and seafood.
© William Friar from Moon Panama, 3rd Edition