Where To Eat In Panama City

Owned by chef–restaurateur Mario Castrellón, Maito is one of many restaurants espousing the local-produce-meets-international-trends movement seen in several Panama City lately.

"No one knows what Panamanian cuisine really is," Mr. Castrellón once told The New York Times. "People can name maybe four traditional dishes, but we eat a bit of everything here — Chinese, French, African, Spanish, Colombian, American."

Maito represents just that: the cultural fusions that make up the fabric of the country's cuisine. Maito has its own organic garden.

Here, Castrellón grows basil, cilantro, garlic, lemongrass, and chives. Other produce used is sourced from local producers. Starters have included plantain hash with fried ceviche, watermelon Waldorf salad, and various empanadas. On the menu are mains like ropa vieja, a traditional stew of shredded beef, with a goat cheese and pepper-infused sauce; slow-roasted short ribs; and ta-bien, a banana-leaf-wrapped tamal filled with Afro-Antillean seafood stew. Seafood dishes are diverse, and include baked salmon, red snapper, tuna, and seafood risotto.