Mahalo 📍Casco Viejo, Panama
Came here on a wing after touching down and getting lost finding my driver. Needless to say, by time I reached my AirBnb, I was starving. This little cute shindig was right around the corner, I peeped it turning onto my street. Here goes the first meal of Panama City!
Mahalo is a small, secluded, backyard patio setting with a neighborhood vibe. The culture of the city and the people run free from the front door kitchen entrance through to the back outdoor seating area in the garden. Don’t expect to find chain restaurant style décor or a typical tourist vibe. It’s more of a beachy, Hawaiian style setup with a cute Tiki Bar in the back, bashing and hashing creative fresh pressed fruit juices, smoothies, mimosas and cocktails. The tables are bulky, rustic wood, with padded seating, sitting under a skylight roof with pendant lights. It creates the perfect backdrop for romance or quaint comfort. The owner’s dog is also a cute, friendly face to eat with when visiting.
The BEST breakfast in Casco Viejo! The Mahalo sisters created this place with the idea of simple, healthy food to get the local Panamanians started on their day and promote healthy living. The power bowls full of fresh fruit, granola, chia seeds, nuts, yogurt and many other ingredients definitely help contribute to a fresh healthy start. If I didn’t get one, I guarantee this trip would not have included any healthy eating. I had to start strong! But the best part, the Burritos. On day one, I tried the all-day breakfast burrito with scrambled eggs, black beans, tomato & cheddar cheese, DELICIOUS!! This was by far the best thing I ate in Panama. So much so, that I went back for more on the last day and ordered the vegetarian burrito with rice, black beans, grilled onions/peppers, cheddar cheese and some amazing chipotle sauce. Both these burritos were very filling, cooked with love and came out fresh like they just picked the veggies from the garden. The fresh pressed drinks are also served with stainless steel straws. At first I was like “what is this” but then when they explained that they do not use plastic and why, I was quite impressed. I’d eat here every time in Panama.
The staff at this place are more like your friends just bringing you something from the kitchen. They are extra friendly, always smiling and always ready to tell you something new to try, see or do in Panama or in Mahalo itself. They are even open to customizing menu options to your liking for those creative minds (a mango, pineapple mojito, WHAT?? It was AMAZING). The wait time was pretty short, although the restaurant wasn’t very busy and the menu was pretty descriptive. They speak great English and even the dog greets you. This little nook is worth all the buzz in Casco Viejo!
Wanna eat healthy on vacation? Stop by Mahalo next time you're in Casco Viejo!