It's not quite New York or Paris, but Panama City's restaurant scene is impressive. Panamanians like to eat out, and enough of them have incomes that allow for regular dining on the town, which has resulted in a growing cadre of restaurants. Many of the best restaurants are clustered in Casco Viejo, El Cangrejo, Area Bancária, and nearby Calle Uruguay, which are also the neighborhoods where you'll
find most of the best hotels. Java junkies will rejoice that a good cup of coffee can be found just about anywhere; even the inexpensive restaurants have espresso machines.
Cuisine selection spans the globe, from Indian and Italian to Lebanese and Panamanian (obviously). The seafood tends to be quite fresh, which shouldn't come as a surprise, since the word "Panama" means "abundance of fish," and it's relatively inexpensive, with the exception of lobster and crab. Panama produces decent beef, but the best beef is imported from the United States and can be more expensive. A typical entrée at an expensive restaurant runs about $17, whereas a main dish at a less expensive eatery averages around $9. It's customary to tip at least 10%, but some restaurants automatically add a 10% servicio charge, so be sure to have a good look at the check.
Some restaurants close Sunday, and many close between lunch and dinner (approximately 2:30 to 6:30). Reservations aren’t usually required, but are a good idea on weekends. Jackets and ties aren't necessary, but don't wear shorts and sandals unless the restaurant is outdoors.