Review: Restaurante Lourdes (El Valle)
Some of the very best restaurants in Panama are in places that you would never come across in a million years unless someone told you about them or took you there. This is one of those restaurants. When you are in El Valle, it’s worth the time and effort to find and get to this place. When you are close, it feels that the road ends, but you need to keep driving down a washed out goat path for another city block. Then you are there. The beautiful stone buildings are part of Los Mandarinos Boutique Spa & Hotel. More information and photos can be found here http://www.lacasadelourdes.com/
The restaurant is set outside in a beautiful courtyard of one of the stone buildings, in front of a pool. It’s surrounded by lovely gardens full of flowers and birds. The buildings are made of natural stone, wood, tile and decorated with fine furnishings. Definitely a 10 for atmosphere.
The menu is not overly large but has a good selection of pastas, meats, and seafood. They even have Mondongo for a main course. Mondongo is beef tripe (stomach). I only had it once when the roof of my new house was completed, as this is a Panamanian tradition. At the time it was spicy and pretty good. I didn’t get a chance to see how it is prepared here.
Entradas run $4.50 for the vegetable soup to $7 for the grilled scallops. We split a tasty Mesclum salad for $6. It’s has all sorts of flavors from the bitter greens, sweet apples, earthy pralines and pungent blue cheese. This was accompanied by warm fresh baked dinner rolls. MMMmmmm.
Main courses run $11.50 for a linguini to $17.50 for the Lobster Caribe. Since Jamuna is the vegetarian she tried the linguini. It’s a simple dish with fresh tomatoes and basil but it is very tasty. I had the Filete de Res for $14. It is prepared with a mustard and cream sauce. It was the tenderest, tastiest steak that I have had in Panama. Yes I have eaten steak at Jimmy’s, Gaucho’s, and Anos Loco. This was better.
Desserts are all about $5 and there are plenty to try out. We split a Mango Crumble with vanilla ice cream for $5.50. I thought it tasted like dough & ice cream with very little mango flavor. I would try something else.
For a red wine, they sell the Navarro Correa Tres Uvas for $25 ($10 El Rey). We choose the Casa Lapostille Merlot for $25. Mmm good. The restaurant opens at 7pm for dinner. Not sure about the lunch hours.
Overall I think it’s one of the top Panamanian restaurants. The staff are fast and efficient. No long waits for your food. They even have a kids menu of chicken fingers with French fries for $6.50 or a $9 hamburger. The food is great and the atmosphere beautiful and relaxing. Try it out.