The Lulo margarita at Tántalo
If you’re looking for someplace to eat in the Casco Viejo barrio of Panama City, you’ll inevitably find yourself at the funky Tántalo Kitchen, part of the hipster Tántalo Hotel slash Tántalo Kitchen slash Tántalo Rooftop Bar hipster complex. This feels like the most “of the moment” restaurant I’ve found in the barrio.
Left: The vertical garden at the Tántalo Kitchen. Right: street signage outside the Tántalo Hotel/Tántalo Kitchen complex
Chef Pierre DeJanon has created a menu of shared plates and tapas with food that focuses on proteins & produce native to Panama as well internationally influenced dishes which reflect Panama’s unique cultural mashup.
Tántalo Kitchen’s chicken salad was fresh and flavorful and light with balsamic vinagrette
There are also two communal dining tables, since many of the dishes are meant to be shared. The decor is fun, with a vertical hanging garden, and antiquated technology (instamatic cameras, vinyl records, cassette tables) worked in the the fun decor.
Left: Instamatic Camera art Right: Why not hang vintage vinyl on the wall?
It was nice to discover Tántalo kitchen because the menu had a nice selection of inexpensive, non-fried items. (I’ve found the food a bit tricky here in Panama– where they seem to love grease and fry quite a bit). The Tántalo House Chicken Salad ($7) was perfect for lunch on a hot & humid day. Made with romaine lettuce, small bits of grilled chicken, cherry tomatoes, onions, a touch of parmesan and and lightly dressed with balsamic vinegar and topped with and two crunchy crostini, the salad was light on the protein but you can add a grilled chicken breast for $2.50.
The funky bar downstairs at Kitchen
They like their cocktails sweet in Panama. I ordered the Lulo Margarita, made with Don Julio tequila, triple sec, lulo (whatever that is) and passion fruit. It cost about $6 and one sip put me into a sugar coma. I became curious about other drinks on the menu like the Ketel One Blondie Mary (made with vodka, passionfruit, salt & pepper, and onion mix) but decided to steer clear of anything containing passionfruit. If fruity and sweet is how you like your drinks, then you can’t miss Tántalo– they even have a cotton candy mojito!
If you’re pairing your drink with food, you might want to stick to beer.
Left: Zip it: street art on the Tántalo Rooftop Bar Right: The Rooftop Bar gets packed at night
After dark, it’s all about the Tántalo Rooftop Bar, which offers a great view of Panama City Skyline.
The atmospheric and tropical Tántalo Rooftop Bar is a place is happening at night
Address: Avenida B Calle 8, Casco Viejo, Panama City, Panama
Phone: +507 262-4030