Disclosure: This post on Atlantic & Pacific Restaurant is part of a non-sponsored multi-post series I am writing on Panama City. I was not provided any discounts or payments for this post.
Today, I’m going to share with you the awesomeness of the Atlantic & Pacific Restaurant Co., located in the Canal Zone of Panama City, Panama.
Previously, I have toured the Panama Canal, but the Hubs never had since this was his very first visit to Panama. Given the Hubs’ career in the engineering world, I knew this was something he had to see while there. While out on an awesome tour with Joey from PTY Life, I mentioned our plans to go. Joey gave us a tip and said that going to Atlantic & Pacific Restaurant Co. for dinner was an amazing way to see the canal – particularly if you reserve a balcony table. (By the way, you will be hearing a lot more about Joey in several other posts in this series about Panama.)
Wow, was he right!
I called the day before and made the reservation for 6 p.m. on a Wednesday, requesting a table on the larger of the two balconies. The hostess was extremely pleasant and her English was excellent.
Traffic is an issue in the canal zone, as it is everywhere in Panama City, it seems. We called for a ride from Uber at around 5:15. Our very pleasant and handsome (don’t tell the Hubs I added in that little detail) driver, Brandon, picked us up around 5:20. After sitting in stand-still traffic for what seemed like forever, we were dropped off in front of the Miraflores Visitor Center at 6:35 p.m. While sitting in traffic, I had called the restaurant and explained we were stuck in traffic. The hostess was understanding and sounded almost as if she expected us to be stuck in traffic – which she probably did given the location of the restaurant.
The Miraflores Visitor Center houses an exhibition area with information about the canal as well as three observation areas for watching the ships move through the locks. The Atlantic & Pacific Restaurant Co. is housed on the fourth floor.
Joey’s tip was to go ahead and have dinner there because the dinner includes admission into the museum. Otherwise, nonresidents pay $15 each to simply tour the museum and observe the ships. The dinner options are more of a gourmet variety so the meals aren’t cheap, but the experience of the entire dinner was well worth the wait in traffic and the price!
We did not get there in time for touring the museum since it closes at 5 p.m. Next time, I would arrive before 5 p.m. so I could tour the museum and then have dinner.
The main issue with not arriving until after 6:30 is that the sun was already almost gone which meant my pictures aren’t what they could have been due to lack of natural light. Most months of the year, the sun sets at around 6:30. In September through early January, the sun sets even earlier – around 6 p.m.
Claudio, our waiter, is a hustler. As soon as we sat down, he was right with us, bringing our menus and taking our drink orders.
Because it was truly dark by the time our food arrived (which didn’t take long at all after ordering), my photos are awful. I had to use flash, and we all know what that does to food photos!
The Hubs had a steak fillet with bacon and avocado bearnaise served with otoe chips.
I had the pork tenderloin in guava sauce served over patacones. Again, the flash that I had to use in the dark does not do the photo justice! Normally, I don’t go for sweet sauces but I decided to try something different, and the meal was really tasty.
After two Balboas, the national beer of Panama, I told Claudio, “Eres el mejor mesero en todo Panama.” (“You are the best waiter in all of Panama.”)
And I meant it.
During our dinner, we saw three huge ships pass through the canal. Each one seemed even larger than the one before it. The Hubs was in “engineering heaven.”
When we first arrived around 6:35ish, there were hardly any patrons which made me wonder a bit about the place. However, by 8 p.m., the place was shoulder to shoulder out on the balcony and there were lots of filled tables inside, too.
How pretty the Miraflores Visitor Center is all lit up at night!
Things to Know About Atlantic & Pacific Restaurant Co.
- Plan to spend a lot of time in traffic in the canal zone – especially if you have planned your dinner during rush hour(s) which is generally 4:30 to 7 p.m. or so. Traffic is NUTS.
- When you call to reserve dinner, request the outside balconies. There is a larger balcony (optimal) and then a smaller one.
- If you arrive before 5 p.m., you can also tour the Miraflores Visitor Center and get the history behind the Panama Canal.
- Tipping is generally 10 percent in Panama. At many restaurants, the tip is already included or suggested on your receipt.
- The restaurant is open for lunch daily and is open for dinner from 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
To find out more information, visit the Miraflores Visitor Center/Panama Canal website.