Quote:  If you work on a lobster boat, sneaking up behind someone and pinching him is probably a joke that gets old real fast.  --AnonymousLa Fogata (which translates to the bonfire or campfire) has been in existence for 13 years, but surprisingly, many people have not yet discovered it.  The restaurant is located in Farallon, 5 minutes from Hotel Royal Decameron.  It’s not hard to miss with its thatched roof, and Caribbean décor and music.Owners Luz and George started the restaurant in Coronado, and moved to Farallon in 2002.  Luz has family from the Darien, Bocas, and the Pearl Islands and George moved to Panama from Switzerland. They are an interesting and attentive couple.  George manages the front of the restaurant, and Luz does the cooking.

The restaurant has many excellent choices, but without a doubt, the specialty here is lobster, the ultimate luxury seafood.  The “Sexy Lobster Dinner” is their signature dish and also the most popular.  The ½ lb. lobster comes with two jumbo shrimp, salad, side, and dessert for $30.  You can also choose from “Two Oceans,” a dinner for 2, which features 1 lb. each of succulent rock lobster and sweet Caribbean lobster and includes an appetizer, salad, side, dessert, and a bottle of wine for $91.  Also available is a seafood mix with lobster ($20), and 1 lb. lobster with one side ($33), or ½ lb. with side for $16.50.  

On a recent visit to the restaurant, Luz brought out a sampling of the live lobster offerings for the evening. Our dining partners choose a 4 lb. Caribbean lobster.  The lobster had firm, sweet flesh with a delicious flavor and was truly “rapture on a fork.”  The lobster is served with a browned butter sauce laced with lime.  The sauce is a perfect accompaniment, not enveloping the lobster meat, but enhancing it.  Other selections are “Langostada La Fogada,” 2 lobsters and 2 jumbo shrimp with one side for $25 and “Surf and Turf,” a beef filet with 3 jumbo shrimp, also $25.

The restaurant menu was expanded to include more selections, including several appetizers, salads, chicken filets, beef filets, fish, octopus, and squid.  Side choices are garlic bread, regular rice, coconut rice (another treasure of the house), French fries, and patacones.  Not to be missed are Luz’s homemade desserts:  flan and homemade cakes with the fruits of the season ($2.50-$3.75).  Our favorite is her coconut cake made with coconut from the Caribbean side of Panama.

Luz and George are very proud of the fact that they are #1 in the area for Trip Advisor and are humble and thankful for their loyal following.  They prefer advance reservations be made, as they fill up fast, and of course, they want to make certain that everyone who wants lobster gets lobster.  George also mentioned that if you’re in the mood for something special, like the 4 lb. Caribbean lobster to call ahead with the request, and they will purchase and reserve it for you.

The restaurant has national and imported beers ($2-$3), daiquiris, pina coladas, and margaritas ($7.50), other liquor, bottles of wine ($18-$25), glass of wine ($3.75), juices, coffee, tea, and soft drinks.  De-corkage is $8.  

Plan on a leisurely evening, as everything is made to order.  Our meals came out at the same time, and everything was cooked to perfection.  When we asked our friend if he would come back again, he said, “I would come back tomorrow.”  Another friend, the consummate “lobster aficionado” said that it far exceeded her expectations.  Unanimously, we all felt that it was one of the best lobster dinners we have experienced and worth the drive and the splurge.

La Fogata is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 12 p.m. – 3 p.m. for lunch and 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. for dinner.  They close July thru September.  They accept Clave, Cirrus, MasterCard, and Visa and prefer that jubilados inform them when ordering.

Telephone:  6688-2240, 908-3975
facebook:  Restaurante La Fogata Panama, Farallon, Costa Blanca
Twitter:  @lafogatapanama

TIP:  When buying live lobsters from fishermen, they should smell very fresh and still be lively and aggressive when picked up.  The tails should spring back sharply when they are opened out.