Market (Calle Uruguay and Calle 47, tel. 264-9401, noon–2:30 P.M. and 6:30–11 P.M. Mon.–Wed., 11 A.M.– 11 P.M. Thurs.–Sat., 10:30 A.M.–9 P.M. Sun.), by the owner of the popular Restaurante La Posta, is a new favorite among Panamanian, gringo, and European meat lovers. Note: There’s a chance the restaurant will change locations; be sure to check before visiting.
Market is known for its steaks (around US$30 for imported U.S. beef; about half that for tougher local beef from Chiriquí) and burgers (about US$7 for most, or more than double that for a “colossal Angus beef burger”). The imported beef is tender but not necessarily cooked evenly, and the wine is what you’d expect to find in your average California supermarket. Burgers and beer are the best value. Market also does a pretty tasty Cobb salad and maracuya (passion fruit) pavlova.
This is a fairly casual place with a large, high-roofed bar area, separated by walls of wine bottles from a slightly more formal dining area. The sound can be deafening when it’s busy, such as a Sunday night, which is the traditional family night out for Panamanians who can afford it. Market also serves brunch on Saturday and Sunday.
An old standby, Gaucho’s Steak House (Calle Uruguay and Calle 48, tel. 263-4469 or 263-1406, noon–3 P.M. and 6–10:30 P.M. daily) serves decent steaks for those who don’t expect much more in a dining experience. Both the atmosphere (brightly lit, chain-steakhouse vibe) and the food (this is a place for meat; you won’t find much green outside the potted plants) are unadorned. The service tends to be fast and perfunctory.
Though ostensibly an Argentine steakhouse, Gaucho’s imports its meat from the United States. Expect to pay upwards of US$25 for imported beef. Chicken and seafood are also on the menu, but that’s not why people come here. For starters, try the picado de chorizo (a plate of sliced sausages). It’s delicious.
© William Friar from Moon Panama, 3rd Edition