Panama City, Panama
Juan Camilo Mendoza
Chief reason to visit: You’ll need your passport for Chef Mario Castrellón’s tasting menu, as it runs a whistle-stop journey through Caribbean, Indigenous, Asian, Creole, Afro-Antillean and American cuisine that expresses Panama’s multicultural culinary identity like no other. The very casual fine dining experience here is perfectly adapted to the hot weather, with light, exciting dishes.
A few words on the chef: Castrellón was the first to plant the seeds of a new Panamanian cuisine with a modern vision. A dynamic chef and entrepreneur, he studied in Barcelona, returning to Panama after formal chef training and international work experience. He researches native products and visits producers, artisans and indigenous communities on a regular basis and has his own organic farm. He has also begun a movement of young chefs looking to foster a Panamanian identity on the plate.
Typical dishes: The diverse menu includes palm heart and baby leaves with cashew and passion fruit vinaigrette; the perfect sancocho stew; modern versions of the classic carimañola stuffed pies and slow-roasted pork with Panamanian tortilla.
Other ventures: Castrellón is also behind culinary ventures Botánica, Tacos La Neta, Café Unido, Anti Burger, Fonda La Sexta, Güt and Amano.