Cafeterias and Diners
The small Vía España branch (Vía España to the side of the El Rey supermarket, tel. 223-0111, 24 hours daily) of the Niko’s Café chain is centrally located. These cafeterias have proven to be quite popular because of their wide selection of simple and tasty food, fast service, cleanliness, long hours, and cheap prices. A few dollars buy heaps of meat, starches, and some veggies from long rows of steam tables. Niko’s also offers fresh sandwiches, soups, individual pizzas, and desserts. Most breakfast items are US$2–3 or less.
There are several cafeterias within a five-minute walk of the Hotel Continental, some of which are open 24 hours a day. The best known of these is, though no longer open 24 hours, Restaurante Jimmy (Calle Manuel María Icaza, tel. 223-1523, 7 A.M.–11 P.M. Mon.–Sat., US$5–7), just down from the hotel. It’s a neighborhood institution that moved to new digs across the street in 2003. It has a spartan but clean and modern diner atmosphere that’s several steps up from its old greasy-spoon ambience. It serves a wide range of items, including its own take on Greek food (pita, tzatziki, fried eggplant, keftedakia, and so on), which can be odd but rather tasty. Other possibilities include sancocho (a local stew), pasta, sandwiches, seafood, pizza, and various meats.
The coffee shop of the Hotel Ejecutivo serves breakfast 24 hours a day in a cozy, friendly atmosphere. Offerings range from a full Panamanian-style breakfast with lots of fried things bad for your health to an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet.
© William Friar from Moon Panama, 3rd Edition