Las Clementina’s, where ladies lunch

This post is also available in: Spanish

By Craig Weincek

The café and bar on the first floor of Las Clementina’s Hotel, on the corner of Avenue “B” and Calle 11, has already earned a popular reputation for fine dining in the evening, whether in the restaurant itself or in the lush garden out back. What some visitors to the “upper end” of Casco Antiguo might not have thought about is enjoying breakfast or lunch there.

View of the secret garden.

View of the secret garden.

Situated directly across the street from the San Felipé police station and just around the corner from a couple of interesting antique shops, Clementina’s is an ideal location for either beginning or ending a day trip to Panama’s historic district. According to Carolina Garcia Navarro, the general manager, the business for lunch has begun to grow steadily and she hopes that breakfast will also soon be discovered by more than just the guests of the hotel.

The Visitor was alerted by a ladies group who recently enjoyed a luncheon in the new special events room near the back of the building that adjoins a “secret” garden that was recently renovated as a hidden quiet spot for drinks before a meal.

The ladies seemed to have nothing but “raves” for their experience.

Under the supervision of chef Stiven Hernandez, the moderately priced menu has some standard main courses like sea bass and skirt steak but also features several dishes that visitors might more closely associate with lunch. The black angus hamburgers, either “The Classic,” with bacon, cheese and BBQ sauce or “The Clementina,” with goat cheese, caramelized onions and Dijon (author’s favorite) are juicy, cooked to specification and among the best available anywhere.

One of Casco Antiguo's most stately corners, across from local police headquarters.

One of Casco Antiguo’s most stately corners, across from local police headquarters.

Then there’s “The Pacific” which is a big burger-sized sea bass sandwich with ginger and sriracha aioli, also served with plenty of fries. In addition to a grilled lamb burrito that looked good for lunch there are two risottos on the menu. The risotto of roasted beets and goat cheese with lemon comes out as shocking bright scarlet.

Vegetarians have choices between ravioli with vegetables and Feta, oven baked Tofu over pasta or a lentil pilaf with baked squash, eggplant and yogurt. For smaller appetites many of the appetizers should be plenty including a savory squash soup and a one-of-a-kind jumbo prawn “corn dog.” Lunch/Dinner is served Tuesday through Saturday from noon until 10:00 p.m.

Whether you start with a breakfast burrito or an omelet or classic eggs, doors open at 7:00 a.m. and breakfast lasts until 10:00 a.m. from Tuesday thru Saturday. That leaves Sunday for brunch from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., with a menu prix fixe for just under $30 but includes an appetizer; a main course selected from an extensive list including hash, eggs, pancakes and burgers; plus coffee or tea and, yes, two mimosas or Bloody Marys.

To make reservations call 507-228-3617 or contact reservations@lasclementinas.com or for more information go to www.lasclementinas.com.

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