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Road Food

Road Food

Road Food


My recent trip to Panama required a bit of resourcefulness when it came to food at certain times. There were more than a few days when I was on the road all day, worried about finding my next destination. On those days, I usually resorted to club soda and plantain chips that I bought by the side of the road. When I had the time to forage properly, I was often delighted by what I found.

This lovely piece of banana bread with the painted plate came from the Liberia, Costa Rica airport of all places. It was as tasty as it looks.

While Panama City has some wonderful restaurants, I was traveling on Good Friday and many were closed because they couldn’t serve alcohol. My hotel was about a mile from the entertainment district, so I did get out one night to find a delicious plate of falafel at a Middle Eastern restaurant.


On my drive from Panama City to El Valle de Anton, I had enough time to make a roadside stop. Now if I could only muster up the courage.

One town was large enough to boast a few American fast food restaurants–which in some ways seemed like a safe and familiar move. But I was road tripping across Panama. What about that says safe and familiar?

I stopped at 3 or 4 local eateries, sometimes walking all the way inside before rejecting them for one reason or another. After several false starts, I took a table at a local outdoor diner by the side of the road and ordered a local favorite: Camarones and arroz (shrimp and rice.) It didn’t disappoint.


It was filled with fresh, plump and fluffy shrimp and it was HUGE. I think this whole plate might have cost me $6.00.

I had no memorable meals once I got to El Valle, but I did visit a restaurant on Easter Sunday that had a monkey, which promptly climbed on my shoulder.


Bouquete was a treasure trove of yummy food. First up: a fancy-schmancy dark paneled bar in an old Inn called Panamonte on the edge of town. This is where I got a martini, just to be sure the “city” was still in the city girl.


Also in Bouquete I had a delicious single serve pizza with spinach and parmesean cheese.


The next night, I went to The Rock, on recommendation of the hotel owner. Bouquete is becoming a hot spot for Canadian and American retirees and as such is opening some higher end restaurants (and clearing the lands of the coffee plantations the indigenous people rely on for their livelihood, but that’s another post.) In the meantime, look at this lovely plate of rice and octopus I had.


After three days in Bouquete, I drove to Bocas del Toros on the Caribbean Coast. The drive was one of the most beautiful I have ever experienced–high across the mountain range through rain forest and clouds. The landscape was like being on the set of Avatar. Just when I was getting hungry and wondering if I’d be forced to find a bag of plantains at a gas station, this lovely little coffee shop emerged from around the corner. I bought a fresh baked savory roll with cheese.


Bocas del Toros had some great food as well, none of which could beat the B&B owner’s breakfast every morning. But I did have a very memorable dinner at a small Middle Eastern cafe. This is sole smothered in a coconut cream sauce, served to me by the owner/chef. Delicious!


Yum! I’m getting hungry. Most posts about the trip later.