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lo que ha

The best restaurants in Casco Viejo Panama

Posted on August 22, 2019 In Categories Blog Cultural Activities Las Clementinas Website Featured

Casco Viejo’s gastronomic diversity is so extensive, that choosing its best restaurants can almost become kind of an impossible mission. However, on this page we have courage and we are very willing to try. Here is our list

Here is our selection of the top 10 de restaurants at Casco Viejo Panamá:

  1. Donde José
  2. Fonda Lo que hay
  3. Mahalo
  4. Aki
  5. Caliope
  6. Tío Navaja
  7. Bao Dai
  8. Dodó
  9. Nazca 21
  10. Calicanto

Donde José

Surely here we face the crown jewel of the Casco gastronomic offer. Led by the acclaimed and award-winning chef José Carles; Donde José represents a gastronomic experience that is very difficult to repeat. Its menu is a tasting menu and throughout its 10 dishes, we follow a tour that deepens the Panamanian identity, not for repeating classic dishes of national cuisine, but for reinventing traditions, as well as using local ingredients that are not usually seen on regular stoves and tables. This restaurant’s inspiration is undoubtedly the popular Panamanian cuisine, but the chef’s innovative capacity reaches all the way to the bottom of our national identity, while at the same time reinventing it with its mixtures of flavors that are on the brim of the indescribable. However we must give you two warnings: the place is small, so we recommend you book early. And the prices are not cheap, although they are well worth it.

Donde JosePhoto courtesy: Donde José

Lo Que Hay

Here we have another proposal from the chef of Donde José. The Fonda Lo que hay, is the humblest side of Donde José. It is a restaurant that seeks to live part of the traditional experiences of Panamanian fondas. Much more informal and economical, Lo que hay is offers you a relaxed service (you order your food at the register, you immerse yourself in the high volumes of music and conversation and finally you abandon yourself to the experience of a rich, although short, menu, inspired by Panamanian flavors). One of the specials of the house is the Concolón (classic Panamanian toasted rice) with pork and beans. The name Lo que hay, has to do with the food that is available every day. In its oldest version, you could find yourself in this restaurant with daily culinary surprises. Now, the menu is somewhat more stable, although it changes more frequently than other restaurants, incorporating novel dishes every so often.

Fonda Lo Que Hay

Photo courtesy: Lo Que Hay



Mahalo is a bohemian and relaxed space, with a beautiful garden, healthy and fresh food with dishes that represent world cuisine.

Its natural juices and smoothies are highly recommended, are very special and with intense flavors. They have a variety of bowls and salads, with vegetarian and vegan options, without neglecting hamburgers and the trendy craft beers. It is an ideal place to go brunch with your friends and pets.

Photo courtesy: Mahalo


If your passion is Japanese food, this is the place in Casco. Aki is a place with a casual atmosphere and belongs to the same owners of Mahalo. Its owner, Brittany Morgan, is well known in Bocas del Toro, for her first restaurant that opened in that province, called Raw Fusion.
At Aki, freshness reigns supreme. Rolls are their specialty, and they have a huge variety of them. They also offer soups, gyozas and more. You can’t leave without tasting their delicious sake cocktails.

AkiPhoto courtesy: Aki


It is a lovely place and if you are looking for a unique gastronomic experience, you must visit it. It is a beautiful and elegant restaurant, which has an outdoor space. The atmosphere is excellent and the service very attentive. The favorite of many for special occasions.
Its menu is a pretty varied, international fusion type. They emphasize an excellent and bold risotto, meat so soft that you seem to be eating pieces of cloud and some delicious wantons stuffed with duck. All dishes are carefully prepared, a work of art and a delight to the palate.

CaliopeFoto cortesía: Caliope

Tío Navaja

It is a space with casual atmosphere and Panamanian seasoning. The menu is very plentiful, but if we have to recommend a dish we would not hesitate to double the offer and suggest two. The Karma burger is vegetarian, and one of the best in Casco, if not in the whole city. We also recommend their flagship dish, which is the orange chicken.
Its cocktail bar is explosive. At the top is the Mule Bar. Pure classical mixology at the best level. A place you can’t stop visiting to taste the best cocktails in Casco.

Tio NavajaPhoto courtesy: Tío Navaja

Bao Dai

A special and elegant place with exceptional decoration and various ambiences. Fusion of Asian flavors, of great quality. With a great varied menu, the highlight is its octopus, especially the crispy octopus served as an appetizer.
The presentation of their dishes is impeccable. They have an extensive cocktail menu. Ideal for a special celebration.

Bao dai

Photo courtesy: Bao Dai


Dodó is a little piece of Paris in the heart of Casco. You only enter the place, its decoration, music and mysticism transport you to Paris. Café is the healthy eating flagship restaurant of Casco. They have multiple vegetarian and vegan options on the menu. Here you can enjoy, without regrets.
They have no contender when it comes to enjoying a coffee and immersing oneself in their delicious desserts. The place is very cozy and its location is excellent, right next to the Plaza de Francia. You can order breakfasts throughout the day and they also offer brunch.

Dodo PanamaPhoto courtesy: Dodó

Nazca 21

Nobody ignores that Peruvian food has become one of the most respected and enjoyed worldwide. In Panama there are many options, but among them, Nazca 21 is more than recommended. A pleasant and informal corner, perfect to venture with the extraordinary offer of seafood, among which we must highlight the classic Peruvian cebiche, seafood jelly and fried cebiche. Something you cannot miss is a good pisco sour in the best Peruvian style.

Photo courtesy: Nazca 21


Pizza is everyone’s favorite. A small place, a little hidden, but very cozy. Their pizzas are legendary at Casco. It has a huge variety of pasta. Among them we recommend the spaghetti Arrabiata. Insuperable. All pasta is made by hand. A relaxed place to share with family and friends.

Photo courtesy: Calicanto