Best Restaurant in Panama: Ñato Fish Marisco Style
Ñato Fish: Best Restaurant in Panama
I was born in Panama, but unfortunately, I was not raised there. I returned to Panama a few times in my life, and each of those visits was an extraordinary experience. I live in San Antonio, Texas, and I travel to Port Aransas quite a bit. I mention this for a few reasons. The first reason is that I love fish—especially fried fish. The second reason is that I have eaten at many seafood restaurants in my life. Ñato Fish Marisco Style, in El Chorrillo, Panama, is—hands down—the best fish restaurant I have ever been to. I highly recommend it. This restaurant is one of several fish vendors in a blended restaurant area in the city called Sabores del Chorrillo.
I’d like to take a moment to describe the beautiful, panoramic, photogenic view that a person enjoying food at Ñato Fish experiences. When the tide is high, one can see the colorful boats with various knick-knacks and flags bobbing gently along the ocean as the waves roll onto the shore. The eating area is covered with an effective canopy that is great for protecting the customers from strong sun or heavy rains. The views from the restaurant are a great escape from the super busy area in this part of the city. You can’t see or hear any traffic, and you feel like you’re in a peaceful, relaxing seaside escape.
Two Delicious Dishes
The two dishes that I had there were absolutely brilliantly and delectably delicious. For 20 dollars, we got a large plate that is meant for two people, but is probably really meant for three and can definitely be shared by four.
It included patacones (twice-fried plantains) and chopped fish that are lightly battered and layered over a bed of crisp yet tender fries. The fish is accompanied by kalamari circles and little, tiny octopus, also lightly fried. (They call the little octopi “aranitas," which means "little spiders." I hate spiders, but I love little octopi!)
The best part about this dish is that it’s covered with an incredible tangy sauce that seems to be a blend of lemon, tartar sauce, and perhaps a hint of ranch. This is complemented with perfectly pickled and thinly sliced onions. It reminds one more of a ceviche mixture. The combination of this ceviche-style picked onion with the lemony tartar sauce is absolute heaven.
This dish is called “Picada de Mariscos” or "nautical bites." My boyfriend and I usually get a beer to go along with it, and the waitress is always kind enough to bring us some extra lemon to accompany our beers.
Another time we had a similar dish, but instead of the variety of seafood, it was a fish called Corvina that was surrounded by patacones and also covered with that delish tartar sauce and pickled onion mixture. This is known as “Plato Para Dos."
Stay or Have Your Food to Go
When you’re looking for this restaurant, you’ll be called out to by several other fish vendors. There are several fish vendors in a semi-circle in the area, and they all want your business. You can either order up front if you want food to go, or you can choose to sit in the courtyard facing the city.
Alternatively, you can opt to walk behind the semi-circle, near the ocean’s edge where the small boats are, and take a seat after you locate the Ñato Fish waitress. As you walk along back there, again, you’ll be kindly asked to take a seat but it may be another fish vendor—and not Ñato Fish—so make sure to sit in the right area. The area for Ñato Fish isn’t sectioned off, but you can mention that you’re looking for this particular restaurant and just politely refuse the other fish vendor's staff.
What's So Great About Ñato Fish?
While writing this article, I talked to others who have been to this restaurant and also enjoyed its ambience, the fact that the restaurant wasn’t confined to four walls, and that the air was fresh. They mentioned that they loved the ocean views, in addition to the food. The food that was commonly recommended was the ceviche, maracanazo, and torrejitas de bacalao. They enjoyed the attentive nature of the waitress—and it’s true, she’s super friendly and accommodating.
Ñato Fish Contact Information
The restaurant offers to take Sabores del Chorrillo to you for your private parties or large events. Their phone number is +507-6636-6400. If you have WhatApp (an app for chatting), you can add them on there, and they will respond promptly if you have any questions. It’s advisable, however, to use a Spanish translator if you would like to communicate with them but don’t speak the language.
They are located at the Cinta Costera, close to the Maracana Stadium near the Causeway in Panama. The hours are 12 noon until 10 at night.
Their Instagram account has images of their several different amazing dishes in colorful, vivid detail.
If you are ever in Panama, and you’re craving absolutely delectable seafood, make sure to stop by Ñato Fish and be pleasantly surprised by the food while being serenaded by the ocean’s waves and the nautical breeze. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to see the sun-bronzed fishermen bringing in the fresh fish from their colorful red and blue boats. This is a restaurant that will have you wanting to return to Panama time and time again.
© 2018 Charlotte Doyle