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  • Writer's pictureMark Vogel

Blame Kiki Kosher Italian Restaurant in Panama City: Pasta, Party, and Panache

Kosher dairy restaurant in Panama City, Panama

Blame Kiki Kosher Italian Restaurant in Panama City, Panama
Blame Kiki Kosher Italian Restaurant in Panama City, Panama

Don’t Blame Me, Blame Kiki

On a recent trip to Panama City, Panama, I had dinner with my girlfriend on a Saturday night at the much-raved-about kosher Italian restaurant, Blame Kiki. After the Sabbath ended and the restaurant opened for business, we left our Hilton Panama hotel suite and walked to the restaurant which was only a block away.

“If you’re looking for an instagrammable moment, Blame Kiki doesn’t fail to deliver.”

As soon as the host checked our reservation and led us to our table, I realized that this would not be a regular dinner, but rather a unique experience. Blame Kiki’s menu includes a variety of pasta dishes, gourmet pizza, fish and an assortment of cocktails and desserts. Being classified as a dairy restaurant by kosher law, Blame Kiki offers a unique spin on Italian cuisine. This means no meat-based dishes, but believe me when I say, you won't miss it.

As delicious as the food was, the décor of the restaurant was the star of the show. If you’re looking for an instagrammable moment, Blame Kiki doesn’t fail to deliver. From pink and white decorative trees to large flower walls, there are quite a few spots to take that perfect selfie.

While the ambiance was nice, the service was also excellent. The waiters and waitresses spoke both Spanish and English. During the middle of the meal, the staff marched around the restaurant while singing along to the music of a violinist. All in all, we had a fun time.

The Deep-Rooted History of Jewish Life in Panama City, Panama

Panama City, a melting pot of cultures and a bridge between two continents, boasts a rich history that many might not be familiar with. The Jewish people have played an integral part in the evolution of this Central American hub.

The Jewish presence in Panama dates back to the era of exploration and colonization. In the early 16th century, Conversos (Jews who converted to Christianity) and Marranos (Jews who practiced Judaism in secret while outwardly observing Christianity) arrived alongside Spanish explorers. The Inquisition's tentacles reached the shores of the New World, and many Jews sought anonymity in the burgeoning colonies.

The 19th century saw a resurgence of Jewish life in Panama. The construction of the Panama Canal in the early 20th century drew people from all corners of the world, including Jewish settlers from the Caribbean islands, especially from Jamaica and Barbados. This migration, coupled with Jews fleeing pogroms in Eastern Europe, set the stage for a dynamic Jewish community in Panama City.

Over the decades, the Jewish community, while maintaining its traditions, integrated seamlessly into Panamanian society. They played pivotal roles in commerce, politics, and the arts, enriching the fabric of the nation. The city saw the establishment of synagogues, Jewish schools, and community centers that catered to the diverse Jewish population, including Ashkenazi, Sephardic, and Orthodox communities.

Today, Panama City is home to a large Jewish community, with estimates suggesting around 10,000 Jewish residents. The city boasts multiple synagogues, kosher restaurants (including Blame Kiki), and educational institutions.

In recent times, there has been a new wave of Jewish immigrants, primarily from Syria and Lebanon, further diversifying the community. These newer settlers have integrated while bringing with them their unique traditions, cuisines, and customs.

The Jewish story in Panama City is one of resilience, integration, and renewal. It’s a story that mirrors the broader history of the Jewish diaspora, finding places of refuge and making significant contributions to their adopted homelands.

So, the next time you stroll through the streets of Panama City, remember the centuries of history that have shaped this vibrant metropolis and the enduring spirit of its Jewish community that continues to thrive.

Kosher Panama City

Panama City, with its growing Jewish community, has seen a corresponding growth in establishments that cater to kosher dietary laws. Whether you're a resident, a visitor adhering to kosher dietary rules, or just someone curious about kosher cuisine, the city offers a good range of options:

1. Kosher Supermarkets:

- Super Kosher: This supermarket located in Punta Pacifica is a favorite among many in the Jewish community. You can find a wide range of kosher products here, from meats to baked goods.

2. Restaurants and Eateries:

Apart from Blame Kiki, which offers dairy kosher Italian cuisine, there are a number of other restaurants to check out.

- Aria: A delightful spot in Punta Pacifica, Aria offers dairy kosher food with a range of Mediterranean influences.

- Lula: A meat kosher establishment, Lula offers delicious Middle Eastern dishes in a contemporary setting.

- Pita Plus: Located in Costa del Este, this place is ideal for those craving shawarma, falafel, and other Middle Eastern staples.

3. Community and Synagogues:

There are several synagogues in Panama City, some of which have their own kosher kitchens and community events:

- Shevet Ahim: A Sephardic synagogue located in Punta Paitilla, they often have community events with kosher meals.

- Beth El Synagogue: An Ashkenazi synagogue, it also hosts events and sometimes offers kosher meals during festivals.

4. Kosher Catering and Events:

Several catering businesses in the city offer kosher services for events, parties, and special occasions. Whether it's a bar mitzvah, a wedding, or any other celebration, you can find reliable kosher caterers to serve delicious food.

5. Travel Tips:

If you're traveling to Panama City and require kosher food, it's always a good idea to:

- Book Ahead: Especially during Jewish holidays, when kosher restaurants might be busier.

- Inquire at Hotels: Many of the upscale hotels in Panama City, recognizing the needs of their diverse clientele, might offer kosher meal options or can guide you to the nearest kosher establishments.

In essence, Panama City, due to its dynamic Jewish community, has developed a robust infrastructure for kosher food and dining. Whether you strictly adhere to kosher dietary laws or are just curious to try it out, the city offers a culinary experience that aligns with age-old traditions.

I recommend you check out Blame Kiki as well as the other numerous restaurants in the city. Have you been to Panama City? I’d love to hear about your experiences!


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