Panama City is the ideal spot to take advantage of a cold treat. The Republic of Panama, located on the isthmus linking Central and South America, has a tropical maritime climate, where the daily high is around 32° Celsius (or about 89° Fahrenheit) and the daily low around 25° Celsius (or about 77° Fahrenheit). Panama is also very humid, especially during the rainy season, which runs from May to December, where the humidity is around 80%. Get for your skin, but not so great for those that tend to overheat (or suffer from frizzy hair).
So, after being embraced by Panama’s heat and humidity for over a decade, what’s the best way to cool down? From the inside out!
While in Casco Viejo, check out the following shops where you’re guaranteed to find a delicious, refreshing treat.
Ay Mi Negra
Ay Mi Negra, boasting over 75,000 followers on Instagram, is a self-proclaimed “exotic dessert bar”, offering a menu of crepes, ice cream rolls and waffle pops. Ay Mi Negra’s most recommended menu items include the Kinder Addict, Mi Otro Amora, María María and the Waffle Pop de Nutella.
Ay Mi Negra prepares their unique, artisinal desserts right in front of your eyes on a cold stone. Though the locale and dessert variety are relatively small, the presentation and flavor combination are on point. The prices are reasonable and the portions are HUGE. Come hungry or ready to share!
Although (and most likely because) the desserts are so delicious, the wait can be very long (depending on the day and time of day)… Anywhere between 20 and 90 minutes.
Forever Yogurt is a franchise self-serve froyo shop. With over 85 rotating flavors (and approximately 14 at any one time) and over 100 toppings, it’s hard to go wrong! Are you Kosher? Or allergic to gluten? No problem! Forever Yogurt is certified Kosher in Panama, as well as provides options that are gluten free, sugar free and lactose free.
Toppings range from healthy, like nuts and fruit, to deliciously unhealthy, like Reese’s Pieces and Butterfingers.
Buyer beware… Forever Yogurt charges by weight. At 89 cents an ounce, a yogurt can end up costing $15 and upwards.
Address: Avenida Central, between Calle 3ra & 4ta (diagonal to Ministerio de Gobierno y Justicia), Casco Viejo, Panama
GranClément serves traditional, gourmet ice cream and sorbets. Founded in 2005 by a French chef glacier (a chef responsible for preparing ice cream and cold desserts) who had relocated from France to Panama.
GranClément’s kitchen values are quality, flavor and tradition. They use only raw materials that are high quality, natural and without any dye or artificial flavoring. GranClément recently added a vegan dairy-free ice cream and a light ice cream (low in fat and sugar) to their menu.
GranClément’s msot popular flavors are Dulce de Leche, Pistachio, Rocky Road and Blackberry.
PalettaAmerica serves gourmet, 100% natural paletas, or popsicles.
Customers can choose from simple, fruit-based popsicles, like strawberry or kiwi, or opt for a more decadent option, like the “Kit Kat” or “La Colombiana”. The Kit Kat is a gelatto popsicle with a Kit Kat bar inside. “La Colombiana” is a cappuccino-flavored gelatto popsicle. Customers can also make their own in three simple steps… 1) Choose your popsicle, 2) Choose your dipping, 3) Choose your topping.
The most recommended popsicles are Cheesecake, Mojito, Venezolana, Colombiana, S’mores and Mexicana.
La Michoacana has over 110,000 followers on Instagram, as well as countless pictures that will make your mouth water.
La Michoacana’s claim to fame is their popsicles. Options range from healthy, fruit-based to delightfully sinful, where their most famous popsicle is the strawberry filled with condensed milk. In addition to popsicles, they serve traditional ice cream and “raspado”, or shaved ice, as well.
The most recommended items are strawberry filled with condensed milk, mango and chile, watermelon filled with lemon and the strawberry and mango.
Rass Panama is the self-proclaimed first gourmet “Raspadería”, or Shaved Ice Shop, in Panama.
Rass features a variety of natural flavors, including citrus (orange, lemon and lime), pineapple, coconut, strawberry, passion fruit, blueberry, and cherimoya. To liven up your shaved ice, you can add condensed milk, malted milk or molasses.
The counter features a “diablo rojo”, or red devil, a symbol of Panamanian culture that have been disappearing from the streets. Diablo rojos are school buses from the United States, bought second hand and shipped to Panama, that undergo a makeover to become an extremely colorful, and oftentimes loud, means of transportation.
Benissimo is a gourmet gelato and coffee shop, featuring 100% natural, hand crafted ice cream. If you’re in the mood for savory, they have options as well.
Unlike some of the other dessert shops mentioned, Buenissimo’s atmosphere is welcoming and cozy. Whether you’re looking to enjoy your sweet treat in peace, to catch up on some work or to have an informal meeting, it’s an ideal spot.
The most recommended desserts are the straciatella ice cream, the brownie gelato and the waffle gelato.