Here's my trip report. Sorry if its a little late. First day we stayed in Panama City. First thing we did was walk around Casco Viejo and headed to the near by seafood market. We got a small cup of ceviche langostinos (larger shrimp) and it was excellent. We then went upstairs to the second story inside the market. We ordered a couple of beers, and after that decided to go back outside and order more ceviche because the service was terrible slow (the slowest on our entire trip). For dinner we headed to the mall multiplex to go to the restaurant Marea which was featured on an episode of No Reservations. We had some ceviche sampler which was several non traditional takes on ceviche. Good but not as good as the fish market. We also had a corvina filet wrapped in bacon. This was awesome. The bacon was nice and crispy and had the texture of a chichorone or crispy pig skin.
Next morning we flew to Bocas Del
Toro. We got there early and headed to Lilly's for breakfast. The food is average but for our first restaurant on the water it was an awesome experience. We came back a couple days later and I had a pretty good omelet that I smothered in their home made Caribbean hot sauce called Killin me Man sauce. I went back the last day and bought 4 bottles. For lunch that day we ate at our hotel on the next island over. At the Cosmic Crab we had a whole grilled lion fish which was very good and cost about $8. Also ordered some ceviche which was not as good as the stuff in PC. For dinner we headed to Bibi's on the same island. About $1.50 for the water taxi. We ordered a $25 lobster, and an order of Octopus Creolle. They brought out the lobster which happened to be one and a half whole lobsters spit down the middle! A lot of lobster for $25! The octopus was hands down the best octopus dish I have ever had! So tender and combined with an amazing sauce made this insainly good! I'll forever crave this dish. And usually I don't care about French fries and just push them aside. These fries were really great! Hand cut and freshly cooked. Normally I wouldn't even mention fries but these are worth the mention.
Next day we had breakfast at Lilly's and then took a boat to the town of Old Bank on a couple islands over. About a 10 minute boat ride. Follow the sighs to Up In The Hill Coffee Shop. It's a cool little 20 minute hike up the hill through some jungle. We got to the coffee shop and kicked off our shoes. We got a cafe mocha made with cocoa they grow them selfs and organic coffee. I also got a cold milk with cocoa nibs and sugar (chocolate milk). The beverages were extremely good and the open air seating on the patio feels like a story book. We just relaxed and sipped our drinks for over an hour. It's a hike but in Bocos this was one of the MUST do things on our list. We will return in the future for sure. We had lunch at El Limbo on the main island. We ordered a whole fried red snapper with garlic butter sauce with almonds, and tuna tar tar. Both were excellent and the snapper was the best piece of fish I had the entire trip. Crispy salty skin, and fried well enough to eat the fins like chips. We ate lunch there out last day and ordered some shrimp dish that wasn't so great. Stick with the whole fried fish. Next couple of days we ate breakfast at Bibi's which had the best breakfasts. The granola is a must. Mostly toasted coconut, oats, cocoa nibs served with homemade yogurt. Sounds simple but it was amazing. Other dinners we would just snack. For this we would head towards the hospital in Bocos Town. Follow the signs towards the hospital and on the corner of calle 9th you'll find Taller de Sabor. Excellent baked empanadas. Beef braised in wine and coconut was our favorite followed by teriyaki chicken with pineapple. The juices were great. The owner is an American expect. Super friendly, and we enjoyed chatting with him every time we went there. After Taller De Sabor we would head to the Main Street (3rd) and hit up a street cart. An older man grilling meat on a stick with onions and sweet peppers. Don't be scared people, this meat on a stick was the best meat on a stick I have ever had. Wish I could figure put that marinade. On another night we went to Guari Guari. A short taxi ride because its not located by the main streets. $23 pre fix menu. Romantic atmosphere with great food. Gazpacho was some of the best I've had, and I order this in lots of the tapas or Spanish restaurants back in the states. I'm no gazpacho expert but it was damn good.
So for Bocos top food goes to Bibi's, Guari Guari. Best cocktails go to Cosmic Crab, and Bibi's. Best coffe and top of the list for things to do Up In The Hill Coffee Shop.
Back in PC for local food we went to El Trapiche with our driver. For an awesome bowl of Sancocho (local chicken soup) head to Bingo 90 Casino. When the taxi drivers get off work this is where they head to. We ended up at a Spanish style restaurant called Santé after our cab driver got lost. We said the hell with it and went in. Super hip place. We had some squid ink risotto with seafood. Ended up being pretty good. Just brush up on your Spanish cause almost no one spoke English as tourist probably rarely wonder in. If you get a chance go the the fruit and and vegetable open air market. Find the pineapple guy in the center. For a $1 he will cut up a whole pineapple in 60 seconds right before your eyes. I hate to say this but sorry Hawaii, Panama has the best pineapple on the world hands down.
I hope this helps even if its just a little. Enjoy the adventure, and if you get lost just eat.
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