Café Coca Cola
Plaza Santa Ana, Av. Central
Don't let the American-style name fool you, this is Panama City's oldest café, and it's a favourite with the locals who come here for a quick, inexpensive meal. Famous for its breakfasts, the restaurant also offers a nice choice of meat and rice dishes, as well as inexpensive sandwiches. A good spot to meet Panamanians.
Restaurant-Bar Casablanca / Las Costillitas
Set on charming Bolívar square-within the former colonial-style Colombia hotel-this small restaurant has an extensive menu and is worth a visit. Young, middle-class Panamanians frequent this popular meeting place with a modern ambiance.
Plaza Catedral, corner Calle 7a Este, tel.262-3487, www.renecafe.com
This romantic Plaza Catedral restaurant serves Panamanian specialties with a Caribbean, Asian and European twist.
Café de Neri
corner of Calle 3 and Avenida Central, tel. (507) 228-4361
This charming establishment is run by an Argentinean who serves up tasty empanadas and pizzas. You may think you're actually in Buenos Aires if you come here on one of their tango-themed evenings.
Plaza de Francia, tel. (507) 228-8058
Adjoining pretty Plaza de Francia, with the city's 18th-century fortifications, Las Bóvedas serves quality French cuisine in an extremely attractive setting. For those who prefer to be out in the sun, there is a small patio where you can quench your thirst. Live music on Fridays and Saturdays.
Corner of Calle 3 and Avenida Central, tel. (507) 228-4640
This friendly restaurant's offers a creative decor and delicious market-fresh tapas. You'll probably be surprised by the top-notch wine list. Manolo Caracol is popular with Panama's artistic community and regularly plays host to temporary exhibits and other special cultural events.
El Rincón de Meche
While visiting Cerro Ancón, make sure you stop by El Rincón de Meche in Mi Pueblito. Many different Panamanian specialities can be sampled here, including lombo machado (ground beef) and excellent pargo fish.