Restaurante Johnny Tapia and the Pools at Aquadulce


Today we made the long drive from Boquette to Panama City. We wanted to stop somewhere along the way to eat and possibly check out some of the beaches on the southern (Pacific) side of the country. One place that looked interesting, and not too far out of the way, was the tiny town of Aquadulce.

The town itself is about 6 miles from the Pacific Ocean, where, according to the Lonely Planet, man-made pools are available for swimming at low tide ("lovely in a funky way") and Johnny Tapia's restaurant ("a basic place named for its ebullent owner-waiter") serves great fresh seafood.

lowtide.jpgAnd, for once the Lonely Planet was right on. We arrived at low tide, which amazingly stretches out over one mile, making the water barely visible from the beach. And the pools were actually quite "funky" -- big above-ground cement holding tanks of various heights that fill with water when the tide comes in. The pools themselves are about 100 meters from the beach, and when we were there, were full of Panamanian kids having a great time while some of their parents were out in the tidal pools looking for clams.

And the restaurant was fantastic as well. Johnny was indeed "ebullient". And the food was out of this world. We used our limited Spanish to order a big fish, a big plate of jumbo shrimp, and cold beers. Johnny soon stopped by to welcome us and recommended we try the mussel ceviche, which we did and which was wonderful. His second recommendation was hot sauce for the jumbo shrimp, and was also a great choice.

We told Johnny that we were here because of our book, and we quickly realized that his English vocabulary didn't go much further than the two words "lonely" and "planet".

hotsauce.jpgNow, my father is a hot sauce connoisseur. Just a week before he had visited a Hot Sauce Musuem outide of St. Louis and was raving about the experience. And let's just say that Johnny's Hot Sauce got a Five Star rating from my father. He wanted to take some home to the US, but unfortunately, Johnny didn't sell it by the bottle.

But five minutes later, Johnny appeared from the kitchen with a used tabasco bottle full of the secret orange nectar. My father actually let out a big "Whoop!" and jumped up to give Johnny a hug. There were smiles all around... and I can only wonder what the locals thought about the crazy gringos who appeared in Aquadulce that day.


The hot sauce is about gone!

Love, Dad

Wow, it only lasted one month? You must have really loved it!

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This page contains a single entry by Stuart published on January 9, 2007 9:33 PM.

Boquete and the Coffee Farm Tour was the previous entry in this blog.

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