Indian restaurants have been slow to catch on in Panama City , despite a significant South Asian population. Why eat out when no Panama restaurant can compete with grandma’s home cooking? There are usually only one or two places in the entire city, and they don’t tend to stick around long. They also tend to lay off the chilies in deference to the Panamanian palate, so ask for food to be prepared “picante” if you want it with a bit of a bite and “muy picante” if you prefer it moderately hot. Those who like it fiery are probably out of luck.
Restaurante Masala (Avenida 3 Sur and Calle 45, tel. 225-0105, 11:30 A.M.–3 P.M. and 6–10:30 P.M. Mon.–Sat., under US$15) offers the usual North Indian dishes, including ample vegetarian offerings. Food here is similar to an average takeout place in the United States or the United Kingdom. The kitchen must lack a proper tandoori oven, however, as the naan is more like fried bread. Its old home, a charming Bella Vista house, was bulldozed for yet another skyscraper and its new digs are small and dark, but pleasant enough and decorated with the expected Indian flourishes. Both table and floor seating is available. It’s right next to Residencial Los Arcos.