We had asked for a menu for the Manabi restaurant when we checked into the Sortis Hotel in Panama City Panama but none were available in english so one of the front desk staff called up to to restaurant to have one brought down. My travel companion suffers from very severe allergies to shellfish, mollusk and crustaceans so we always need to be very cautious when dining especially as our Spanish is very rudamentary. When the menu arrived we reviewed the offerings with the front desk staff who didnt know how the food was prepared so another call went out and a server from the restaurant quickly arrived. Shortly thereafter yet another member of the food service crew arrived to counsel and translate. We made a lot of friends from the restaurant that night and felt obligated thereafter to actually eat in the reaturant.
The restaurant, which is located on the pool level adjacent to the expansive lounging area. Manabi has branded itsself as a top-notch restaurant and not just “the hotel restaurant”. It offers Latin American and American cuisine, and it’s inspired by the classic Panama during the late 19th century, with the influence of Europe and America. Named Manabi after the city where Panamanian hats are made the design is contemporary with earth colors using natural elements such as fabrics, distressed leathers and the like.
On our second attempt to eat there, it was thankfully open and the server we had met earlier and who knew of the allergy issues was on duty. The place was empty when we arrived (and there were only two other tables in use by the time we left). Walking in we found the air conditioning uncomfortably cold and asked to sit outside on a narrow balcony that only had small tables. We also asked for the server we knew and while the manager didnt seem to like either request our “friend” quickly took charge and escorted us to the much warmer outdoors.
We were treated like royalty and enjoyed great drinks, food and service. The local chicken soup sochocho was more like a stew, very large and delicious though almost a meal in itself. I loved the salad with oranges as it also included warm goat cheese wrapped in crispy phyllo dough that was awesome. Sadly we had no room was left for dessert.
It was a lovely experience sitting outside as it allowed us to feel more “connected” to the city than inside behind windows. As the dusk turned to night and the city lights came up we had a perfect view of the very mixed skyline and neighborhood below reluctantly transitioning from a sleepy village of old to the urban center of tomorrow. Should we return to Panama City again, Manabi will certainly be part of the trip, but we’ll have to plan on a Sunday as I heard the brunch is terrific.
Manabi Restaurant and Rum Lounge (Sortis Hotel) Panama City, Panama
Visited: July 29, 2016