What To Eat When You’re In…Panama City

20th September 2019

The chance to transit the iconic Panama Canal is one of the major highlights you can enjoy with Star Clippers. After a relaxing tour around the Caribbean, the ship will sail through this famous maritime passage and dock just outside Panama City, giving you the chance to explore the capital before you head home.

We’ve already discussed how this vibrant country offers more than just a canal, and one of the other major aspects of life here is the delicious food. The cuisine takes influence from a range of different world regions, including the Caribbean and South America. Ingredients are usually simple, meaning costs can be kept down whilst taste remains sky-high. So, here are a few dishes to try when you’re in Panama.

Scrumptious Seafood

Ceviche Corvina


You simply cannot come to this part of the world and not sample some of the delicious seafood on offer. So, when you step off the ship, head straight for the Mercado de Mariscos (Seafood Market). A Panama institution, it’s situated in the old part of town and is typically buzzing with locals and tourists on the lookout for a fresh feast. As well as the stalls selling whole fish to cook at home, many vendors offer cups of ceviche for very reasonable prices. The most popular option is seabass (ceviche corvina) and you’re sure to discover that Panamanians like their cured fish to be sourer than the spicy alternative in Peru.

It’s worth noting than the market is closed on every third Monday in the month. Also, if fish isn’t your thing, there’s a pork-based alternative to ceviche called Sao. You’re unlikely to find it at the Mercado de Mariscos, though.

Pargo Frito

Rice, Rice, Baby

Rice and chicken

Guacho de Mariscos

As we mentioned above, Panamanian food is all about using the most humble ingredients to create amazing flavours. Guacho de Mariscos combines some of the seafood above with the most unpretentious of staples, rice. Similar to risotto, the rice is stewed in a broth and accompanied by chopped tomatoes, garlic, onions, chilli and, of course, the seafood of choice. This is another morsel you’re likely to find amongst the stalls of the seafood market.

Arroz Con Guandú Y Pollo Guisado (Rice, Chicken and Beans)

This is, without doubt, the most widely eaten dish in Panama and exists in various different forms. In essence, it’s simply rice, chicken and beans but the finished plate is definitely more than the sum of its parts. Guandú is actually the Latin American name for the pigeon pea that’s used throughout Asia and South America as a major source of protein.

Corn Fritters


Panamanian cuisine is littered with guilty pleasures that are deep-fried and delicious. Carimañolas, a snack eaten at breakfast time or as a starter, feature a crispy outer skin made from yuca pastry which envelopes a filling of either cheese, ground meat or both. These torpedo-shaped bites are very moreish and easy to eat on the go – ideal for exploring a new city.

Panamanian Tortillas

The word tortilla conjures up a picture of a large, thin wrap. However, the Panamanian version is nothing like this and resembles more of a circular corn fritter. They are much thicker and smaller than you would expect and a great way to start the day. Originally made by Native Americans who lived in the region before the Spanish arrived, they are typically served for breakfast and topped with melted cheese or eggs.

These are just some of the wonderful meals you can look forward to when you set sail on one of our Panama Canal cruises. For more information or to book your holiday, call the Star Clippers team on 0845 200 6145 or use our online chat service.

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