Eurasia (Calle 48 between Avenida Federico Boyd and Parque Urracá in Bella Vista, tel. 264-7859, noon–3 p.m. and 7–10:30 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 7–11 p.m. Sat., closed Sun., US$30), opened in 2002 and quickly emerged as one of Panama City’s better restaurants. It lost its original chef but is still going strong. It’s an elegant place in a lovely house built in 1936, with wrought-iron grillwork, tile floors, high ceilings, and antique mirrors and chairs. It’s one of Panama’s more expensive places, but it’s a good place for a splurge and is worth visiting for a glimpse of what posh Panama City houses used to look like.
The food is a fusion of French and various Asian cuisines. There are about a dozen and a half first courses. Try the lobster and seafood bisque with tamarind, lemongrass, and basil. The more than two dozen second courses include unusual combinations such as the Japanese glazed salmon with tender spinach and water-chestnut fricassee.
La Posta (Calle 49 just west of Calle Uruguay, tel. 269-1076, www.lapostapanama.com, noon–2:30 P.M. and 7–10:30 P.M. Mon.–Sat., US$13–24) has become one of Panama City’s favorite restaurants in the last few years. It serves imported and local seafood and meats along with a number of pastas. Some of us find the food uneven, but that’s no reason not to visit it. It’s located in a sprawling old Bella Vista home, and it’s been restored and decorated in a style very different from Eurasia and Hacienda Real, which had a similar idea. La Posta is going for tropical elegance, with bamboo and wicker chairs, ceiling fans, old tile floors, and a long, elegant bar. Somerset Maugham and Hemingway would have felt right at home.
As its name suggests, Fusion (Radisson Decapolis Hotel, tel. 215-5000, 6:30–10:30 a.m., noon–3 p.m., and 6–10:45 p.m. daily, US$10–25) offers a fusion of different cuisine, especially Asian and Peruvian. The best bet for food is the buffet lunch, which consists of an attractive array of salads, sushi, and cold cuts, plus your choice of hot entree and dessert for less than US$20. It’s offered noon–3 p.m. daily. This is easily the most striking-looking restaurant in Panama City. At least stop by for a drink. Be sure to sit inside the cone-shaped room, which shoots up for three floors and is dominated by a seven-meter bust that vaguely resembles an Easter Island statue and supposedly is meant to represent the fusion of the world’s different races. The hotel’s swimming pool is on the floor above it. The pool has a partial glass bottom, which allows light to stream through and gives the feel of dining in an underwater temple in Atlantis. Avoid the house wine. The passion fruit dessert is delicious.
Le Bistrot (Calle 53 Este, tel. 264-5587 or 269-4025, 11:30 A.M.–11:30 P.M. daily), tucked away in a nondescript office building across from the World Trade Center in Marbella, is a Panama institution that’s been around for nearly 30 years. Year after year it’s been one of the city’s more consistent spots for fine dining, especially compared to some of its trendier (and more expensive) rivals. The chairs on rollers may remind you of Siete Mares, which makes sense since they’re both owned by the same folks. It’s a good place for a romantic dinner, as the banquettes and mood lighting offer lots of privacy. Food tends toward the usual array of seafood, fish, and meats, but it’s quite well prepared. The calamari a la plancha (grilled squid) is a bit oily but delicious. Also try the langostinos a la thermidor (prawns thermidor), or the very tender filete a la pimienta (pepper steak). I’ve also heard good things about the paella. The flan de queso (cheesecake flan) is good if you still have room.
© William Friar from Moon Panama, 3rd Edition