Restaurants are generally mediocre at best in Chitré. There are grocery stores on Paseo Enrique Geenzier and a large Super 99 supermarket across the Carretera Nacional from Hotel Hong Kong if none of the following appeal to you.
The restaurant in the Hotel Guayacanes, Restaurante Las Brisas (Calle 19 de Octubre, tel. 996-9758, 7 a.m.–11 p.m. Sun.–Thurs., 7 a.m.–midnight Fri.–Sat.), has an outdoor dining room covered by a large wooden roof held up by massive wooden pillars. There’s also a fancier, air-conditioned dining room, but no one ever seems to use it.
During my last visit, a souvenir shop had been built along one side of the outdoor area, blocking what had been the restaurant’s best feature: a strong, pleasant breeze that gave the restaurant its name. The menu is limited—pastas in addition to the usual assortment of meats—and the dishes are hit or miss. The spaghetti marinara and spaghetti bolognese, for instance, are fairly good, while the hongos al ajillo (garlic mushrooms) are vulcanized rubber.
The restaurant at Hotel Versalles (Paseo Enrique Geenzier, tel. 996-4422 or 996-3133, 6:30 a.m.–10 p.m. daily, US$10) is pricey by Chitré standards, but the food is decent. The grilled chicken and the patacones (twice-fried green plantains) are good.
Panadería Chiquita (two blocks north of the cathedral on Avenida Herrera, tel. 996-2411, 5 a.m.–10 p.m. daily) serves pastries, coffee, and juices as well as fast-food options that include sandwiches, chicken, burgers, and pizza. The most expensive thing on the menu is US$6.255.
DKDA’s Restaurante y Pub-Bar (Calle 19 de Octubre, tel. 996-3339, 9 A.M.–11 P.M. Mon.–Thurs., noon–midnight Fri.–Sat., noon–11 P.M. Sun., US$5–7), pronounced deh-ca-DAHS, is a pleasant enough outdoor place despite the mounted TVs playing shows at full volume. It serves all the usuals—meat, fish, seafood, and poultry. The filet mignon is big and edible. Avoid the wine.
Restaurante El Mesón (just north of the cathedral on Calle Melitón Martín, tel. 996-4310, 7 a.m.–11 p.m. daily, under US$7), on the ground floor of the Hotel Rex, has an extensive menu that varies from burritos and tacos to lasagna and pastas to seafood, meats, and salads. It also offers two dozen sandwiches. Patrons can sit outside on a front deck overlooking the church or in the nicely air-conditioned dining room. The food’s pretty good, definitely one of the better fancy dining options in Chitré. I always go for the tacos, which actually taste like tacos. They’re not spicy, but they’re pretty yummy. The daily lunch special goes for US$3 and is an especially good deal. Sample menu: grilled chicken, rice, beans, and salad.
Restaurante La Estrella (Avenida Herrera and Calle Melitón Martín, no phone, 6 A.M.–10 P.M. daily) is a comida corriente (fast food) place in an attractive building that dates from 1913. It’s across the street from the northeast corner of the cathedral. It offers cafeteria items, pizzas, and sandwiches for a couple of bucks. Come early before the food gets too old and scary-looking. There are a couple of similar options around the cathedral.
La Raffi (Calle Manuel María Correa near Avenida Herrera, no phone, 8 a.m.–9 p.m. daily) is a clean new pastry place. Pickings are slim—pizza and cake and little else—but it’s pleasant. It’s next door to Hotel Santa Rita.
© William Friar from Moon Panama, 3rd Edition