Many of our students want to experience Panamanian food and culture. They want to know of interesting places to eat and there are many in the country.
The oldest cafe in Panama City is located on the edge of Casco Viejo, facing Santa Ana Park. It opened its doors in 1875 and continues to serve its customers to this day. Over the decades, it has hosted world movers and shakers, Presidents and spies, ordinary people and the extraordinary, poets, writers and singers and now us.
Diners whose names you might recognize include Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, and Evita Peron. Also, Panamanian General Omar Torrijos Herrera who signed the treaties in 1977 with U.S. President Jimmy Carter, setting in motion the return of the Canal and adjacent land to Panama. Another famous diner was actor Daniel Craig who played the fictional James Bond, agent 007, in Quantum of Solace and other movies.
A less widely known but real-life Spanish double agent was Juan Pujol García, credited with saving D-Day for the allies in World War 2 and spreading a lot of dis-information during the war. He ate here daily during his time in Panama. He is known as Garbo, the spy, because his true name was a mystery until outed in 1984. The Wikipedia entry about his life and exploits is fascinating. Maybe you saw the movie.
This cafe is the only one in the world to be named Coca-Cola, a namesake of the Coca-Cola Corporation. It is listed as a World Heritage Site, of special cultural significance in Panama by UNESCO.
In 1902 Panama & Cuba became the first countries to operate Coca-Cola bottling plants outside of North America, just in time to refresh the thousands of laborers brought in to build the canal. 2026 will mark the 11th decade of Coca-Cola on the Isthmus.
Now it is your turn to enjoy a cold drink in Cafe Coca-Cola, pretending to be a spy is optional.