On my last visit to Volcán, several of the better dining options had opened or relocated away from the center of town, which is a bit of a nuisance for those without transportation. But any place not within walking distance shouldn’t be more than a US$1 cab ride away.
Café Cerro Brujo (cell 6660-9196, noon– 9 p.m. daily, US$12.50–14) is now located down a bumpy dirt about one kilometer north of “downtown.” It’s amazing this place is still around, as it has stylish, relatively haute cuisine aspirations you wouldn’t expect out here, at big-city prices. It has a limited menu that changes daily but might include unexpected dishes like chicken in a Thai curry sauce and bananas foster for dessert. Soup and salads tend to be quite good and are probably the safest bet. To get to Café Cerro Brujo, turn north off the main drag at the American Shop. The road forks after one kilometer. Turn right. The restaurant is on the right, in a house that’s been converted into a simple but pleasant-looking café with a back patio.
Café Restaurante Acropolis (tel. 771-5184, cell 6624-9687, US$2.50–7.50) is now located in a house on the main road 1.4 kilometers from the crossroads on the way to Río Sereno. It serves a variety of Greek food, though don’t be surprised if not everything on the menu is available. The tzatziki yogurt dip and the hummus, both served with fresh, hot pita bread, make good appetizers. The moussaka is tasty if oily. The restaurant also serves the usual meats, plus pastas, burgers, and fresh shakes and juices.
Some think Ristorante Il Forno (tel. 771-5731, noon–9 p.m. Thurs–Sun.) is one of the better Italian restaurants in Panama. Pizza is baked in a brick oven (though one fired by gas, not wood.) Il Forno is in a house just down a side street near the crossroads. As you head in the direction of Río Sereno, it’s a left turn just past the Banco Nacional de Panamá.
The restaurant at Hotel Dos Ríos (on the outskirts of the Volcán area 2.7 km from the crossroads on the road to Río Sereno, tel. 771-5555, US$5.50–11.50) is the fanciest in [nodeL40374 link Volcán], which isn’t saying a whole lot. It’s pleasant to sit out on the patio, but the food is so-so at best. My dinner there was memorable for overcooked and chewy beef complemented by undercooked rice. Options include steaks, pasta, and pizzas. The brave can opt for la sorpresa de la casa (house surprise). Yikes.
Restaurante Las Truchas (in the Hotel Bambito, tel. 771-4265, US$10–15) features plate-glass windows that look out on the artificial terraced pond in front of the hotel and the side of a mountain right across the street. The house specialty, as the name of the restaurant implies, is trout from its own trout farm up the street, prepared any way you can think of.
There’s a 24-hour Supermercado Romero (tel. 771-4524) at the crossroads. It has a pharmacy, and the pharmacist can be called day or night in an emergency.
© William Friar from Moon Panama, 3rd Edition