As a Panama City resident and food lover, my pocketbook can’t keep up with the amount of pricey fine dining that has opened in the city. Luckily this has made me a guru on where to dine fine on the cheap. My definition of eating cheap? It has to be possible to eat for less than $10 (not including a drink because if you’re cheap you’ll drink the free tap water).

Here are the best cheap eats in Panama City, Panama.


 

Fonda Lo Que Hay

As far as price vs quality is concerned, Fonda Lo Que Hay is one of my favorite spots for an inexpensive gourmet meal. This new eatery was opened by legendary local chef José O. Carles of the Dónde José restaurant and is a gourmet version of a fonda or local Panamanian cafeteria. The menu changes almost weekly, so you never know what you’re going to get, but it’s guaranteed to be delicious.

 


 

Pig Backside

Good southern style BBQ has been difficult to come by in Panama City, but Pig Backside delivers. This is located in the San Francisco neighborhood (dangerously close to my apartment). I’m a huge fan of the pulled pork sandwich for $7.50.

Llega por tu #pulledpork 🐷desde las 6pm a Coco del Mar 🏝

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El Trapiche

El Trapiche is an old-school diner that specializes in traditional Panamanian dishes. You can order any of the classics like Ropa Vieja, Tamal de Olla, or their famous Hojaldra Sandwich for under $7.

 


 

Peach Fuzz International

Peach Fuzz International is by far some of the best seafood I have had in Panama City. It’s located off the beaten path in the Curundu neighborhood (use Uber to arrive or Waze if driving to locate it) and their specialty is the Pescado Frito, the whole fried fish.

 

El Social

El Social is located in the Casco Viejo neighborhood and creates a fun, casual atmosphere for a bite to eat. They have daily food & drink specials like a $10 burger & beer on Mondays and $3 tacos on Tuesdays.

 


 

Niko’s Cafe

Niko’s Cafe is open 24 hours and one of those places you normally only admit to eating at after a night out, but they have some decent options for a local style meal of rice, beans, plantain, and meat.

¡Jueves de Niko's! Con nuestro menú del día Come Buco, Paga Poco.

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Esa Flaca Rica

One of Panama City’s most famous food trucks is definitely Esa Flaca Rica and you’ll typically a line of people patiently waiting for El Choripan or one of their iconic burgers.

 


 

El Corazón Lumpia Bar

This hidden gem prepares amazing Filipino lumpia’s that won’t break the bank. El Corazón is located inside the Luna’s Castle Hostel in Casco Viejo on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 8 pm to 3 am.

 

Anti Burger

Anti Burger is another food truck in the San Francisco neighborhood that offers up affordable casual dining. They are also one of the few spots that have veggie burgers for the non-meat eaters.

we are back

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Cafe Coca Cola

Originally opened in 1906, Cafe Coca-Cola is the oldest still operating diner in Panama. It’s located on the border of Casco Viejo and Santa Ana and is a great spot to go for an affordable local style breakfast, lunch, or dinner. 

 

The Smoke Truck

The Smoke Truck is another great food truck located in the San Francisco neighborhood. The ribs and poutine are delicious!

 


 

Mentiritas Blancas

Mentiritas Blancas is a coffee shop situated in the heart of Panama City’s funky Via Argentina neighborhood. As you enter the place, you are welcomed by a cozy, intimate setting that instantly makes you feel at home. This is one of my favorite coffee shops in Panama a great spot to go for brunch and coffee.

 

Tacos La Neta

Serving up tropical tacos in the San Francisco and Casco Viejo areas, Tacos La Neta has some of the most creative tacos in the city. For $10 you can choose any three of their signature tacos.

¡Llegando pa ti! Taco de Pork Belly y Taco de Cabeza #TacosLaNeta 🌮

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Tantalo (Lunch Only)

Tantalo is normally on the pricier side for dinner but their lunch menu is very affordable. They offer a different menu of the day that includes a main plate and drink for only $5.50! They also have happy hour from 12 pm – 7 pm every day so it is actually possible to get lunch and a cocktail for under $10.

 

Taberna la Malagueña

In the mood for Spanish tapas? Taberna la Malagueña offers an affordable and pretty legit tapas restaurant in the Panama City. Their daily lunch menu includes one tapa + main plate + desert + WINE for just $7.50. You can also stop by for their daily happy hour between 5 pm – 7 pm for different daily specials like three tapas for $5!

 


 

Loving Hut

Loving Hut is a vegan cafeteria that is surprisingly cheap. I’m not a vegan but I used to work near here and I would have a large lunch every day for $3.75.

 

Mercado de Mariscos

The Mercado de Mariscos is always a cheap spot to eat. You can order ceviche, patacones (fried plantains), and local beer from the outdoor vendors for under $5!

Best place to end the day. #panamacity #panama #ptylife

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Other tips on eating cheap: To end the post I just want to give two other tips on eating cheap in Panama City. First, subscribe to Oferta Simple and Gustazos. These are Panama’s version of Groupon and you can eat at some pretty nice restaurants for half off. Also, check out the Discount Specials on Degusta. Just by making a reservation through the app or website you can get up to 50% off your meal!

Where are your favorite cheap eats in Panama City? Leave a comment below. 


Experience Panama



Author

I'm from Louisville, Kentucky and moved to Panama in 2011 to finish a degree in International Business. I enjoyed the hot tropical weather and the lifestyle on offer in Panama City so much that I decided to make it my permanent residence. Follow @JoeyBonura on Twitter and Instagram for more updates on my life in Panama.

1 Comment

  1. thank u fo the article, i will make this list my plac to go for 2018: i hav always wanted to go to peach in cuundu but inalays have an xcuse,,, there is another place for the list, its calld le kafet in diablo, a gourmet fonda which undont know what u will eat since the menu changes and its gooooodddd

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