5 typical Panamanian dishes and where to taste them

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Do you know what the best typical Panamanian dishes are?

The most pleasant way to get to know a country is through its cuisine. The culinary art of Panama shows in its ingredients, flavors, smells, textures and colors, all the diversity of a people proud of their culture.

The typical food of Panama expresses a mixture where the aboriginal, Spanish and African are distinguished in their exotic and characteristic flavors. This wonderful fusion is accompanied by the freshness of its ingredients.

Whether it is a juice, a soup, a bread, or a salad, any typical Panamanian recipe must have fresh, high-quality ingredients that place the gastronomy of this beautiful country above others in Central America and the Caribbean. To understand how difficult any selection of the five best typical Panamanian dishes is, you have to know their main ingredients.

Panama has a wide variety of tasty traditional foods, mainly dominated by seafood, since the country’s coasts are washed by two oceans, the Atlantic and the Pacific. The exoticism of Panamanian gastronomy is also the work of the construction and maintenance of the famous canal that unites the two oceans.

Countless Panamanians and foreign tourists alike have been captivated by the rich flavors of soups, bananas, corn, beef, and fish—fundamental ingredients that define this cuisine. Given their appeal to the senses—pleasing to the eye, enchanting to the nose, and delightful on the palate—typical Panamanian dishes have garnered significant international acclaim.

Without further ado, in this post we put at your disposal a list of the 5 best typical Panamanian dishes and where you can taste them, since they all symbolize regions in which they are popular for delighting both tourists and locals.

Typical Panamanian chicken stew

Sancocho (Chicken stew)

Sancocho is a thick and nutritious soup, considered by many to be the national dish of Panama. It is generally prepared with chicken, corn, cassava, yam, coriander and other seasonings that give it a unique and comforting flavor. In the coastal areas of the country, it is consumed with seafood.

Although it may seem crazy to consume chicken stew in such hot weather, it is the perfect meal for almost all occasions. If you are a foreign tourist and want to feel like another Panamanian, you should enjoy Sancocho with rice.

It is common to find it on the menu of the day in local restaurants and is ideal for recovering energy after a long day of sightseeing, a hangover, or a cold. There are many varieties of Sancocho in Latin America, but it was the Panamanian one that entered the Guinness Book of Records as the largest chicken soup on the planet, with 2,500 gallons!

The Panamanian Sancocho is exquisite and cheap. You can taste this very famous dish in provinces such as Panama, Los Santos, and Veraguas; However, in Chiriqui it is the main dish of the region.

Typical Panamanian Ropa Vieja

Ropa Vieja

Ropa Vieja is a stew made with shredded beef that is slowly cooked in a tomato sauce with onions, peppers, and spices. Inherited from the Spanish culinary tradition, this dish has taken root in Panamanian cuisine and is commonly served with white rice and fried plantains.

It is an economical, adaptable and enormously popular food for its rich flavor. Like many other typical Panamanian foods, Ropa Vieja is consumed all year-round.

In fact, for many, it is a daily dish, since it can be enjoyed at any time and place. However, on your vacation to Panama, it is advisable to enjoy this food in a restaurant. Ropa Vieja is very famous in different Latin American countries, and its preparation can vary a little depending on the region.

Despite this, there are common features in the accompaniment of this dish, such as the use of banana slices. They are thick and fried slices that combine very well with the flavor of the meat, giving the whole thing a wonderful sweet touch.

In the province of Panama, you can enjoy the best ropa vieja in the country. Do not miss it!

Mondongo (Tripe soup)

Mondongo Soup is a hearty soup made with beef belly, cassava, yam and corn, cooked for hours until the flavors are concentrated. This special dish is a valuable contribution of Panamanian gastronomy to the rest of the continent, since it was in this country that slaves who were only allowed to eat the leftovers of cows began to prepare it.

It is a dish that is often consumed on weekends at family gatherings and is said to have surprising healing properties, especially after a night of partying. Of course, when you go to try this dish, don’t make too many plans for the rest of the day, because Mondongo is famous for sending people to bed. There is nothing better than a good nap after a plate of Mondongo.

Where can you enjoy this excellent dish of typical Panamanian cuisine?

Although Mondongo is a typical dish spread throughout Panama, without a doubt, you can try the best in the provinces of Panama and Bocas del Toro.

Typical Panamanian tamales


Panamanian Tamales are packages of corn dough filled with meat, chicken or pork, seasoned with sauces and vegetables, and wrapped in banana leaves. Tamales are an important part of typical Panamanian food, and anyone, whether local or foreign, goes crazy to try one.

It is a festive food, especially popular during the Christmas season, but is also found year-round in local inns and markets.

It is common for the tasty Panamanian tamale to be eaten even for breakfast, and to this we must add that it is ecological, since its banana leaf wrapper is biodegradable. Depending on the region of Panama in which you decide to try it, the tamale will be filled with different products.

We recommend the delicious Tamales from the provinces of Panama, Chiriqui, Los Santos and the Chorrera region.

Typical Panamanian guacho


Rice is the main ingredient in Panamanian cuisine, and one of its culinary expressions is Guacho. It is a delicious recipe from Panamanian cuisine that is very reminiscent of Spanish paella.

Of course, Guacho is a delicacy that you will not find in many other parts of Latin America. During your trip, one of the typical dishes to eat in Panama is this dish based on rice and green beans, cooked in a thick soup of vegetables, meat, yucca, yams and coriander.

There are many types of Guacho and the different ways to prepare it depend on which Panamanian region you visit. In some places, all the ingredients are cooked together, while others prefer to cook them separately. In both cases, it is the broth that provides flavor to this typical Panamanian dish. Both ways are equally delicious!

You can taste the best Panamanian guacho in the provinces of Panama, Veraguas and Darien.

After having known, perhaps for the first time, these delicious proposals, we want to ask you: Would you like to try any of these 5 typical Panamanian dishes?

Choosing them was not easy because Panamanian cuisine is one of the most delicious and diverse in America. It is true that Panama’s gastronomy has similarities with that of other countries in Central America and the Caribbean, but as a whole, it is unique because the fascinating culture to which it belongs is unique.

We invite you once again to enjoy all these dishes so that you can get to know Panama in the most pleasant way, through its food.

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