Mercado De Mariscos (Panama City Fish Market) has every kind of seafood from spiny lobsters and tentacled octopus to giant shrimp to seafood mix for ceviche. As you can imagine, the smell of fish is strong inside and the floors are slick with water that’s constantly being sprayed to clean the area. Upstairs, there’s a restaurant that overlooks the market below where you can get fried fish or ceviche for a reasonable price.
Many people who go to Panama City never stop by the fish market, which I think is one of the coolest things there. And maybe it’s ok, when I think about it, because floods of tourists stopping in would change it from what it is, and that’s a local’s spot. Here, locals and cooks from nearby restaurants stop in to get something to eat or buy something to make for the evening.
If you’re not there to buy fish to take home for dinner, but just want to snack, outside is where it’s at. Once you walk outside the market, you’ll find a line of vendors in stalls selling all kind of deliciousness.
Outfitted with a small grill or fryer in the back, each stall offers a pretty good menu for such a small space. Lining the front of the stall are rows of containers that have ceviche. Large plastic containers deep in crushed ice, these have a variety of ceviche—some loaded with onions and in a creamy sauce, other with just shrimp and fish in a sharp vinegar marinade. As you walk by, you’ll see some ceviche that looks alike, but really they are all different and delicious. It all depends on what you like.
The best part is how inexpensive it is, so you can really taste several and not break the bank. For $1, you get a small styrofoam cup of ceviche and a pack of saltine crackers. For another $1, a draft beer. You can eat and drink as much as you want.
And the view—not so bad. The water and old town, Casco Viejo, on one side or the city on the other. Hang out, people watch, enjoy the music and liveliness of the place, and you’ve got yourself a perfect morning in Panama.