We ran into two glitches while trying to find a place to have dinner in Casco Viejo, Panama City, on Good Friday.
* A lot of places were closed due to the Easter holiday weekend
* Casco Viejo has become trendy. I think it’s fantastic and there is an excellent variety of restaurants to choose from. You can get sushi, Italian, Thai, but what we really wanted as visitors, was some straight up Panamanian cuisine.
So since it was open on Good Friday, and because they serve Panamanian fare, we had dinner at Diablicos.
I initially dismissed Diablicos when I did my initial research, because on preliminary impression, it seemed like it might be too gimmicky/ touristy. Once we settled down at our table, and I learned a little more background, I realized I judged too quickly.
The restaurant was created with the intention to preserve and showcase Panama’s cuisine, as well as Panama’s culture, specifically its folklore.
If you look at the picture above, you’ll notice that the restaurant is decorated with masks. They are creatures from folklore who fight with the angels over the souls of mortals. The masks are examples of masks worn during the traditional devils’ dance. Historically, the devils’ dance was performed with the intention of frightening people into religious repentance. On the weekends there is usually a show at the restaurant that features the devils’ dance, but since it was Good Friday there was no show.
After vacillating between the ropa vieja and the arroz con pollo, I went with the pollo. Usually I’m a little hesitant to order arroz con pollo, because it can be dry, but that was not the case at Diablicos. Not only was it nice and moist, it was perfectly spiced. Not that I’ve had a ton of arroz con pollo, but I would rank this one as the best I’ve had so far.
My meal came with potato salad that to my delight, contained beets. I also got to indulge in one of favorite side dishes, sweet fried plantains. It was all delicious and there wasn’t a speck of food left on my plate when it was taken away.
Shannon did it up right proper. He ordered the national dish of Panama, Sancocho.
Sancocho is a hearty soup that contains chicken, yucca, corn, and a variety of other ingredients depending on the cook. Rice and hot sauce are presented on the side to add to your soup. Shannon said his Sancocho was excellent. He suggested tasting the hot sauce first before adding too much as it was potent.
Since we had three frozen treats earlier in the day, we passed on dessert.
The staff were friendly, and you could tell that they take great pride in the food they prepare and serve. The man, who I believe was the owner, was kind enough to offer to take a photo of us when he noticed my camera sitting on our table.
We were glad we had dinner at Diablicos. The atmosphere is lively and friendly, and the food more than satiated our craving for Panamanian cuisine.
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