What to Eat in Panama

Hello from somewhere above Costa Rica! I am currently on my flight home to Southern California. We found a direct flight from LAX to Panama so the air travel has actually been the easiest part of our whole trip! IMG_1810 (800x600)

I didn’t post Friday because internet was spotty and I didn’t feel like fighting it. Luckily, you didn’t miss much. El Valle, the town we stayed at the last two nights in Panama, is pretty quiet and there isn’t too much to do.IMG_1290 (800x600)IMG_1291 (800x600)

Ben and I started our day with comida. He had the tradition Panamanian breakfast of empanada, tortilla, chorizo and other goodies.     IMG_1686 (800x533) 

I finally dug into my cereal stash and nabbed a few bites of the things he raved about. IMG_1687 (800x533)

Then, we headed toward a waterfall called El Macho. Unfortunately, the walk to it was not macho at all. We expected a hike, but it was a little paved walk in a circle. IMG_1696 (533x800) IMG_1702 (800x533) 

IMG_1724 (800x533)

Since that was a bust we headed to the hot springs.  IMG_1732 (800x533)

Where Ben had his first mud mask. We’re scary! Happy Halloween!!!IMG_1727 (800x533)  

Luckily for the locals we decided to wash off the mud masks before heading to lunch. It started to downpour on us so we ducked into a random restaurant to eat and wait it out.

Someone* ordered a pineapple batido and spiked it with local rum 😉 IMG_1735 (533x800) 

I thought it was weird that mixed drinks were very hard to find. Everywhere had beer, but no one had hard alcohol drinks. *By someone I mean Ben.

I started with a salad.IMG_1736 (800x533) 

And finally got the Sancocho I’d heard about. It’s basically chicken soup with yucca instead of potatoes or noodles. It also came with rice. LOVED it.IMG_1737 (800x533)

Since we were in the rainforest and all the sky decided to POUR for a few solid hours. We hung out in the hotel a bit before heading to the most depressing zoo I’ve ever seen. Sad.

Then, it started to rain again so we found comfort in another restaurant.IMG_1747

IMG_1744 IMG_1750

I got the Sancocho again. Eat this if you go to Panama (especially if you like Caldo de Pollo). IMG_1756

And the chicken salad, which is not what I expected but good none-the-less.IMG_1760

Ben got what he considered was the “Man versus Food” item of the menu. It was a serving of every type of meat they have – fish, chorizo, steak, ham and chicken.IMG_1758 

Plus a batido for good measure spiking.IMG_1753 Plus dessert that we shared. I definitely indulged a lot on this vacation, but I figured I would. (There are undocumented sweets from the bakery.)I say when you’re on vacation you should just enjoy it! IMG_1763 This morning we took a walk with my adopted dog, Don Pepe. (I named him after our hotel.)IMG_1803 (800x533) IMG_1770 (800x533) IMG_1782 (800x533) IMG_1806 (800x533)

Then it was our last Panamanian breakfast. I stole a few big bites of Ben’s hojaldres with egg. It’s that same thick fried flour tortilla type thing we ate throughout the trip. IMG_1774 (800x533)

From there it was time to pack it up and head back to Panama city via bus.  IMG_1293

Then, we caught another bus to the airport. It is a LONG LONG day of travel :(

Luckily, Dunkin Donuts provided a little pick-me-up at the bus terminal. Ahhhh, much better.  IMG_1301 

I also drank a few sips of Ben’s arroz con pina drink. It was like a thick horchata flavored with pineapple juice.IMG_1297 IMG_1294

Finally we made it to the airport!  IMG_1303 (800x600)

I’m backpacking it!IMG_1305

And I got a meal that I feel summarizes me and my priorities in life –

A salad and a cookie. IMG_1310

with a few stolen fries too… IMG_1313 (800x600)

Despite the indulgent vacation, I don’t think Panama had good sweets besides the brownie sundae (which isn’t local obviously). I need chocolate to be happy, but none of the treats in the panaderia were chocolate. IMG_1311 (800x600) 

I fully indulge and enjoy eating on vacation and during holidays. I always say, “Everything in moderation – even moderation!” and apply that to times like this.

I also took a complete vacation from structured exercise. I visited the gym the first day of our trip, but it wasn’t available after that and I didn’t worry about it. I think it’s a good idea to let your body 100% rest from exercise a week or two out of the year and this was my week.

I kinda planned this trip around the fact that I should probably be forced to NOT run after the marathon and that worked out.

That being said written, I am itching to run again! I am craving big salads and healthy foods!! I am ready to get back to my normal routine. Being away from running and the foods I love made me realize that I really do feel good when I run and eat and sleep like normal. I feel off schedule with all of the above and am ready to get back home :)

P.S. – I filled up my water bottle at the soda fountain and the water was carbonated! It’s like a dream <3IMG_1317 (600x800)

See ya in a bit!


  1. Elizabeth says

    Sounds like you had a great trip! I love doing vacation for the same reason just leaving the world behind and getting out of the daily routine! I also agree with your last couple of statements, I forget how much I am doing good for my body sometimes (eating healthy and running), but when I am away from this, I really do miss it!

  2. says

    I’m a big proponent of doing what feels good on vacation. They happen so seldomly that you have to take advantage. If you want to run and work out, run and work out. If you want to lie on the beach- lie on the beach.

    I’ve had a crazy busy last couple of weeks so my eating hasn’t been as healthy as usual and I’m craving healthy food too! I’ll be back to see what you end up cooking to get some ideas.

  3. says

    Glad you had a fun vacation! I definitely take it easier on vacations because they don’t happen too often, and I think it helps reset my sanity. And I always crave healthy things after being away for a bit anyway. It reminds me why I eat the way I do.

  4. says

    Two things:
    1) one of my mantras is also “everything in moderation, including moderation” – for proof visit my blog and you will see the mantra posted top right :)
    2) I also think my life’s meals could largely be described as a healthy entree salad, a cookie, and a few stolen fries. Pretty much sums it up.

  5. says

    I really enjoyed your Panama trip series. So many cute photos of you and Ben! The soup reminded me of a fish stew that I had in Cartagena, Columbia this summer, which had yucca + potatoes. I also don’t think I would like Panamanian desserts very much.

  6. says

    Wow, that mud mask photo made me instantly think of black face. I could figure out what it was based on the context,mbut at first glance it’s pretty weird.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *