Saturday, July 1, 2023

Fresh Start - Boquete Restaurants

Dining in Boquete
House-made chocolate and cappuccino at The Perfect Pair

In September of '22 we moved to Boquete, Panama from Panama City. It's been an adjustment from the hustle & bustle of Panama City to be sure.

The heat in the city was just too much to handle, even when balanced against the great variety of restaurants there.

Now that I'm fully embedded here and have a handle on the dining scene I figured it's time to get back to posting about the restaurant scene in Boquete and the surrounding areas of the Chiriqui province.

I'll be posting about coffee shops, restaurants, and whatever else strikes me.

Some general observations so far: The dining scene here is vibrant. There are great ingredients available all within two hour's drive of Boquete. Chiriqui is the country's bread basket and the availability of fresh vegetables, fish and meats is second to nowhere in the US. The care taken in the handling, preparation, and service varies wildly though.

Along with the variations and food care and quality, there is a huge range in the ideas of hospitality and guest interaction. Harder to quantify, but certainly an aspect of the scene that can make or break my desire to return to a restaurant. Part of this variation is due to the labor pool and laws in the country. Apparently you can't fire an employee regardless of how egregious their behavior is. The details of this are out of my area currently but I'm sure I'll learn more about that over time.

Stay tuned for posts about my adventures and thanks for reading.

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Market - The Best Kept Secret in Panama City

Market and Allen Brothers 

ALLE 48 # 27



  +507 6678-4052


Once in a great while you run across a restaurant that speaks to you like an old friend. Like you've always been together and an you always will. Time may pass, but you can pick up right where you left off. Market in Panama City is a restaurant that makes you feel that way about it.
I'm embarrassed to say I've lived within walking distance of this restaurant for almost exactly a year but never even knew it was there. It never showed up on my radar and no one one the expat groups talks about it. Crazy. It is actually probably a good thing as I wouldn't have found so many other good restaurants in the city if I'd hit this one sooner. 
The only reason I found myself dining there two days in a row is that my friend Mark who I walk with every day mentioned it and got me to go with him for lunch as a goodbye celebration. I'm leaving Panama City in a couple of days and will certainly miss his company as well as this restaurant.
It's a block off Avenida Balboa. You'll see this sign about a block past Gaucho Steak House. 
This is the actual entrance to the restaurant. You walk through this market door. There is a lot of retail including sauces, truffled products, chocolates, wines, that type of thing. I'm hoping to chat with the owner a bit to hear the story of this concept and the connection to Chicago.
The retail section.
They have a full raw bar with clams and oysters from North America. I've missed cold Atlantic oysters dearly.
They're pricey, but they're a slice of home.
The space itself is reminiscent of a lot of North American restaurants. Subway tiles, big industrial ceilings a central bar, and very, very loud (acoustic absorption is zero). 
The wine list is big and the walls are adorned with numerous choices including out-sized bottles

The big draw for me was the steak. Finding steaks I've liked here has been difficult. They're either extremely expensive or not very good, and unfortunately sometimes they're both extremely expensive AND not very good. This place has extremely good steaks on both ends of the price spectrum. The day I was there for lunch I had twin tournedos of domestic beef and they were outstanding at $16. I was really shocked at how good they were. They're served with a head of roasted garlic and a popover as well as a roasted tomato. Great value.  
Then you can step up from there. I'm sure the dry-aged beef can get well over $100 for a big tomahawk or a ribeye. I went with an American Wagyu mid-rare. Great piece of meat and perfectly prepared.

For dessert we split a Coconut Pavlova. The center was filled with a passion fruit creme. Nice way to wrap it up.
If you go, note that there is parking on site but it fills up fast. There is also a paid parking lot across the street. 
Be sure to get some beef. Tell 'em the gringo from MD sent you.