You can find tipico lunches everywhere — but where on Panama’s Azuero Peninsula do you go for an elegant mid-day dining experience? One choice in Chitre stands out.
Every once in a while I like to take time out in the middle of my day for a nice restaurant lunch. Back in Florida I had my favorite spots — a little French patisserie that makes the best spinach quiche I’ve ever had, for example.
Here in Las Tablas there are plenty of places to eat tipico — chicken or beef, rice, beans and maybe a fried plantain. But for a relaxed, sit-down, fancy lunch with some variety, the La Huaca Restaurante at the Hotel Gran Azuero in Chitre is the place to go.
You can order off the extensive menu. Or — and this has been my choice every time I’ve visited — you can select their Menu Ejecutivo. The “executive” menu is available on weekdays until 3 PM. For a set price of $6.50 you get soup with a roll, an entree with a fancy rice and another side and a sweet fried plantain, and dessert.
Recently my husband and I went there to celebrate my birthday.
The hotel is located on the Paseo Enrique Geenzier, one of Chitre’s main roads, not far from the movie theater and the Paseo Central Mall.
It’s a long building with an elegant, open lobby featuring high-ceilings and marble floors.
The restaurant is well appointed, with views out over the pool area along one side and a charming little inner courtyard along another. An enormous flower arrangement graces one corner of the bar.
I love iced tea. Here they froth it up somehow, and serve it in fancy glasses. It’s very, very sweet — Panamanian restaurants don’t do unsweet tea.
The day’s executive menu began with a beefy soup containing big chunks of meat and potato and a small roll.
For the main course we enjoyed a chicken parmesan. Rice is always one of the sides, but here they find interesting ways to dress it up. At this meal, kernels of corn were mixed with the rice. There was also a vegetable medley including broccoli, carrots, and mushroom slices.
Another time when I lunched here with a friend, the main course included a very tasty homemade ravioli. Every time I’ve visited the rice has been prepared differently.
Dessert was a popular cake called tres leches (three milks). Other times they’ve served flan or cheesecake.
Price for the full lunch, with iced teas, for two: $17.60.