Coronado Restaurant Scene


Restaurants in the Coronado Area

As few as five years ago (2008), the restaurant scene in Coronado and region was, shall we say, “limited” (fewer than 10); however as of mid-2013 the eating out option has changed dramatically for the better.

Everyone is aware that the restaurant business is probably one of the most difficult enterprises requiring a unique blend of ownership skills and financing. This fact is particularly true for a seasonal vacation destination. Traditionally Coronado has enjoyed a very busy “summer season” from December to March followed by a much slower winter season from April until November. Even this pattern has been rapidly changing particularly on the weekends when hoards of Panamanians flee the city for Coronado and neighboring resorts giving the restaurant scene more “bang for the buck”.

While a significant number of restaurants have come and gone in recent years the absolute number of high quality eateries, including fast food outlets, continues to increase dramatically.

Today there are at least 50 restaurants within a 10 minute drive of Coronado and another 10-15 within a 20 minute drive. New restaurants are opening (on a net basis) at the rate of at least one per month. Some of these eating establishments are quite substantial and very high end.

Five Star Eateries

Today there are probably five “5 star” restaurants within an easy drive of Coronado with several located inside Coronado. Dinner for two with a glass of wine at several of these restaurants might run in the $30 to $40 range (without the jubilado discount). Of course there is no limit to what you can spend even in a Panamanian restaurant but your cost for the same meal in North America will be one or often two times higher as a rule of thumb.

The number of pizza/pasta restaurants has jumped from one to seven in five years. Several of these establishments offer superb dining with an extensive Italian style menu.

Next on the list would be the growing number of American style “fast food” outlets from McDonald’s, KFC, Subway, and Domino’s. These outlets are being matched by an equal number of Panamanian owned “comfort food” outlets such as Gourmet Pizza, Pio Pio, Leonado’s Steak House, and California Burger. There are several great Mexican based restaurants including Cholo’s. Many well-appointed “parilladas” for BBQ steaks, chicken and fish. Three or four Chinese style restaurants. Swiss, Caribbean and American

These offerings are supplemented by an endless number of smaller “fondas” which typically offer only lunch for about $3.00 to $4.00. These outlets offer excellent value and often continue to grow into more substantial restaurants over time. Then there are the “cafeteria style” restaurants in several of the large super markets. They also offer excellent value and of course very fresh fare. A lunch of chicken meat or fish with vegetables and a drink will run about $4.50. Bring a large appetite.

Our Favorite Restaurant

Our favorite restaurant is currently “El Chef” inside Coronado about a 5 minute drive from our house. Lise typically orders the salmon steak with a baked potato and I take the grilled chicken breast with vegetables. The price, including two drinks and a tip, is $19.00. The salmon and chicken portions are definitely large and always cooked perfectly. The service is superb.

I have completely lost track of comparative restaurant prices up north but last year when Lise and I visited Montreal I confess I had sticker shock looking at a $25.00 “listing” for a spaghetti and meatball dish in a very crowed (read popular) restaurant somewhere in the west end of town. One does not have to be a genius to figure that two of those meatball dishes with drinks, Canadian taxes (15%) and tip (15%) would have taken a substantial bite out of a $100 bill.

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