Panama City | El Casco Viejo Review

In this article:

El Casco Viejo

Tio Navaja

Coluseum Roma

Paletta America, Gelato Gormet


There is not much I could say about Panama City or El Casco Viejo that I haven’t said before. El Casco Viejo (or Casco Antiguo) is an older part of the city. Part of the city is still in ruins. Although, the tourists are flocking to this are so fast, the government decided to renovate all the ruins and turn them into chic, modern, ultra hip restaurants, bars, clubs, rooftop dance floors, you name it. It’s such a great part of town.

Since, tourists are flocking here expect to pay tourist pricing. Everything here is essentially on par with american prices. The fact that Panama doesn’t have its own currency (they use the US Dollar but call it the Balboa) also makes if feel very comfortable to a US tourist.

The colonial buildings abreast an old time ruin makes the city feel amazingly authentic. The nightlife is great and every building, every pub, every restaurant has a view. Whether its a city view of a view of the skyscrapers, there is no place quite like this.

For those that don’t know, Panama City is a booming metropolis with hundreds of skyscrapers along its coast. Its very dense and very urban but also very safe. The coolest thing about Panama City is how fast you can escape the urban jungle and head to a real jungle.

This is the second time I come to Panama City. I loved it the first time and loved it this time around. I made this youtube video of my last stay. Check it out and let me know what you think… 

Would I go back to Panama City… Yes! Its a great place to be.

beautifully renovated buildings

We hit many restaurants but the one that stood out are:

Tio Navaja

This restaurant was very interesting and very delicious. It intrigued me that the decor was colonial chic. The paintings on the wall were pop-art with a little edginess. Considering this place was called “Uncle Knife” in Spanish, they had a lot of art that consisted of knifes.

I had their pork and rice dish and a ceviche. I didn’t know this when I or my bf Claude ordered, but it turns out this restaurant is Chinese influenced. My dish consisted of a deconstructed pork fried rice. All the flavors were there, but in bigger chunks of pork, or many mushrooms, or veggies that you ate separately, or with some rice. It was actually very tasty. What really gave it away were they’re to go boxes. They were the stereotypical asian take out boxes.

This place was cute, air conditioned, chic, and had a full bar. What more could you want?

Lunch was about $60 USD (price includes several cocktails).

Coluseum Roma

We went to this on our first night. It was a great several story building. There is a giant sign for El Gato Blanco on the front. Anyway, it was a pasta place. We got a bottle of Moet to share and I the chicken alfreado. The restaurant was very cute, just like very other place we walked into. The food was good. I got the lasagna. It was well worth it.

We asked for dessert but they didn’t have anything we were looking for. We asked where the nearest Gelato place was and we walked to it…

Paletta America, Gelato and Gourmet

This place was great. It is a frozen gelato place. You get tons of flavors on a stick. The novelty was great. I think everyone should try this place. If this isn’t your type of gelato, there are literally two more gelato places two doors down from here.


We had dinner here in Downtown Panama City. It was very fancy but not so expensive. We ordered a bottle of their Brut and some empanadas to start.

We then ordered Meet Balls and the Lamb Pasta. The meat balls were better than the lamb pasta but the lamb pasta was still decent.

Dessert consisted of a nice rice pudding, arroz con leche. We walked home happy.

Dinner was a total of $100 not including tip. I gave the guy a 20% tip. Not bad for a fancy meal.

cute park we found behind an alleyway in El Casco Viejo
next to the park there was a beach… so cute!
typical architecture in El Casco Viejo
beautifully renovated buildings
Tio Navaja’s deconstructed Fried Rice
A good pork dish at Tio Navaja
Tio Navaja wall art
Streets of El Casco Viejo
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