Large cafeteria style seating. Features a wide variety in Asian and Panamanian vegan food. Includes soy meats, plantains, potatoes, rice, mixed veggies, soups and salads. Fresh squeezed orange juice and carrot juice as well. Food is usually made at 7am and available until closing. Lunch time has the best selection as there are fewer items left later on. Cafeteria pricing, around 50+ cents one scoop, and juices are 50+ cents. Owned and operated by a Taiwanese family. Confirmed opened by happycow member Jan 2013. Price: Inexpensive more-less
Vegan, Asian, Panamanian, Juice bar, Buffet
Calle 49B Oeste (100m from Via Espana, next to Veneto Casino)
Panama City, Panama

Open Mon-Fri 9am-9pm, Sat 7am-9pm.

  • Cash only


First Review by YummyTofu

My Top Veggie Restaurant in Panama City

5 Posted on 06 / 04 / 2014

I am going through Panama City a lot and El Jardin Vegetariano is always a must. The restaurant is located centrally in the district of El Cangrejo where many hotels and shops are. It has an ample selection of vegetarian dishes, I actually think all or at least most of it is vegan, but would recommend you to confirm if you are strict. You choose from a buffet, each portion is 70 cent and if you fill up your plate you might select about 4 or 5 different dishes, for drinks they offer different juices for a similar price. Investing 3-4 dollars will provide you with a great lunch option.
Cuisine is certainly asian for one part with Tofu and different types of soy and gluten meat, but among this they offer local food such as different veggies, rice and plantains and occasionally pizza or lasagne. They change their dishes slightly every day and with the big selection they have you will not get bored going there several times, if you enjoy their food.
Around lunchtime the place can get full and later in the afternoon they start running out of food, do not count on it for dinner as they might close early or just have few options left. It seems to be very popular with locals and all sorts of interesting characters, certainly not a place designed for tourists. I will be back to eat there for sure!
Updated from previous review on Wednesday June 04, 2014
I understand that some of the previous reviewers were not thrilled with the restaurant, so if you need a patient employee who will explain you exactly what each dish is, this might not be the right place for you, they are more tailored towards quickly feeding large amounts of people. For the quality and taste of the food, I can not complain, I thought that was all excellent during several visits. If you are picky about modern style an cleanliness I can also see that this might not be the place for you; it has been satisfying for me. It might not be a restaurant for everyone, but I think it is unbeatable!

Pros: Excellent value, Large selection, Centrally located
Cons: Not very large, can get crowded


3 Posted on 01 / 12 / 2014

Location :on the same mezzanine floor (above street level) as Don Lee Chinese restaurant, a popular place that cab drivers might know, and a short walk from vía España, a big shopping street.

Portions now cost 70cents, so El Jardín is still a bargain, offering braised wheat gluten , tofu, Asian greens, pumpkin, platano, some cold salads (cabbage, cucumber and tomato ) , fried rice , noodles, a few empanadas and cookies for dessert. The dishes are sold at lunch through the evening , so for fresher and larger selection , come early. There's a similar Asian veg cafeteria style restaurant on Calle 47 "me gusta la cocina vegetariana" & a Middle Eastern restaurant "Beirut" with many veg dishes on a more upscale menu, nearby , across from the Royal Casino.

Pros: Low cost, Vegan/veg friendly is rare in this city, Lunch & dinner options
Cons: Items sometimes bland or oily , Drab decor, No labels on menu buffet choices

Welcome Relief From Meat-heavy Menus

3 Posted on 12 / 28 / 2013

We didn't have high expectations after reading some of the other reviews but ended up here when our first choice was closed. It looked closed from the outside as chairs were stacked up and a man was sweeping the floor, but when we went in there were several local people at tables at the back. Each portion from the already prepared food was 60¢ and water and (tepid) tea was included. There was also fresh orange and carrot juice and a small range of piping hot soups that was prepared upon ordering. Desserts were also available for purchase. As stated in other reviews, the food wasn't hot, with the exception of the soups, but it tasted quite nice. It's not a fancy place but it met our needs and we would go back.

Pros: Cheap, Good Range, Location
Cons: Most Food Not Hot, A Little Scruffy

I second the "Meh"

2 Posted on 07 / 11 / 2012

I, too, was excited about this place. However, I believe it is over-hyped. While it's nice to see a vegan/veggie option in Panama City, I must say that:
- the food was cold, and we came at around lunch time
- the food generally lacked in flavor, and we got a wide variety of dishes
- the "juices" for 60 cents are actually flavored sugar-waters (traditional Latin American drinks) that are very sweet
- some of the food was fairly greasy or dry
- there is no explanation of what dish is what, no labels, and the staff doesn't even know what's what
- the place did seem quite run-down, but that is true of many places in Panama City

For those who still want to give it a try: it's now closed on Sundays, and opens at 9 am (not 7) on weekdays. There is free parking at the Casinos. It's located on the second floor, adjacent to the Veneto Casino. What you can do is get valet parking for free at the Veneto, walk through the casino, and exit through the side into the mall, and eat. We actually stayed at the casino for a little while after we ate, so that worked out for us. Prices are now 60 cents a portion (not 50), but still VERY inexpensive. Cash only.

Overall, though, I'd say this place is a 'PASS.' I probably won't come back. Too bad.
Updated from previous review on Wednesday July 11, 2012

Pros: All food is veg*n, Inexpensive
Cons: Lacked flavor, cold, greasy, Nothing is labeled


2 Posted on 06 / 26 / 2012

I had high hopes from the reviews I read. But the food on the buffet was cold, they couldnt explain what things were well (I even speak Spanish), and there was a worm/maggot thing in my food. The hot sauce they have was crusty and old, and they only had two fruits for juices. Not a great experience.

For better food, walk two blocks to Loving Hut. Dario is so nice, Loving Hut is waayyy cleaner, they offer a traditional Panamanian soup & vegan deserts, and the people are friendlier. Prices aren't too different either.

Pros: cheap
Cons: Worm/maggot thing in food, food not that great


I eat here nearly every day.

3 Posted on 01 / 08 / 2012

I've been in Panama City nearly a week and I've eaten here 6 or 7 times. Mostly because it's the cheapest of the vegan restaurants ($0.50 per scoop/serving) and they all basically have the same food. It's nothing special, but it does have more options than the other restaurants in the city.

Excellent Food, Though Floors were a Bit Dirty

4 Posted on 03 / 07 / 2011

This place would get 5 stars instead of 4 if the floors were cleaner. Otherwise, there's a huge "pay by the item" buffet--probably about 30 entrees and side dishes. It's incredibly cheap too at 50 cents per serving. There's a mixture of Chinese dishes (including some with mock meats) and a few dishes from other cuisines (they had vegetarian sushi one night). They usually have a few soups as well. Not much atmosphere though--and, like I mentioned, the floors could be/should be cleaner.

Pros: big selection, cheap, good food
Cons: could be cleaner, especially the floor, not much atmosphere

Great Place!

5 Posted on 11 / 22 / 2010

I spent a week in Panama City last year and ate every meal at this restaurant! The people who run the restaurant are very sweet and friendly. The food is absolutely delicious and very inexpensive. Definitely check them out when you are in Panama City!

Amazing Price and pretty healthy

5 Posted on 10 / 29 / 2010

At 50 cents a scoop it's pretty darn affordable to eat here. We ate here at least once a day while in Panama City for a week. Every day they had slightly different dishes. Lots of greens and vegetables and some fake meat and deep fried dishes.

You can even buy jugs of carrot juice or soy milk from them too. The carrot juice was very good. You can get a quick meal for under $2 here!

It's very much a cafeteria style setting and most people eating here I don't think are vegetarian since they are working men. But all the food is vegan there's no eggs or fish sauce anywhere.

Every day the owners would smile at us and wave, happy that we came back.

Pros: vegan, cheap, fast
Cons: eating area is stark


5 Posted on 08 / 15 / 2010

Where else can you eat for $2 and the food is healthy and cheap? Great selection of over 40 dishes. A bargain!!

Pros: cheap, tasty, variety
Cons: poor decor


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Last updated: 2013/01/14


Added: 2010/01/27


Added by: Veronica01