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“curry is good and have a vegetarian option”
Review of El Castillo

El Castillo
Ranked #4 of 14 Restaurants in Portobelo
Restaurant details
Reviewed 9 May 2016

this place has an amazing view and the curry was very good, the fried fish was ok. If you go there for dinner be sure to bring a insect repellent like cactus juice (off didn't work) otherwise you'll be eaten alive. I didn't feel the insects biting me but when i went to the hotel i was itchy and bitten all over my body.

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Thank Lucrecia11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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14 - 18 of 80 reviews

Reviewed 23 March 2016

There are lots of positive reviews here of the restaurant El Castillo, so I will not repeat more of what there already is. However, it was my first time there, and after reading the recent negative review, I decided this seaside gem deserves a new happy comment. Portobello is a favorite place for us to get away from the bustle and noise of Panama City. For years, we had stopped in for lunch in the Caribbean town at Los Cañones, until the last time we went only to be surprised by what could win the prize for Worst Service in the Caribbean. Goodbye los Cañones. So when last Saturday I took visitors from Bolivia to that beautiful port, I checked Trip Advisor and found El Castillo, the site's number two restaurant in Portobello. I had driven past the place a few dozen times but never stopped. Glad we did this time. Thanks Trip Advisor.

Pretty Tatiana, originally from La Chorrera, on the Pan American Highway north of Panama City met us with a smile, a rare enough event in Panama, where an indifferent expression is more common restaurant service. Our afternoon was perfect on the spectacular bay under bright sun and blue sky where we sat at our table gazing and wondering where Sir Francis Drake might lie out there. El Castillo's menu is exotic for a small town restaurant on Panama's Caribbean coast. This is thanks to Richard, a Marseilles-raised ethnic Vietnamese sailor who I presume learned to cook there and who stayed behind when his ship sailed off from Panama. Although I was tempted to try one of his undecipherable Vietnam dishes, New Delhi service had made me a curry fan, so I ordered green fish curry (green-spicier; red les so); Tex had red shrimp curry and Mariela's choice was an entire fried corvina (white fish). Every dish was excellent, kudos Richard, and our orders came quickly (We were alone in the restaurant). We were satisfied through desserts on a serene, magic afternoon. I had chocolate mousse--yum--and my guests crème brûlée, ah, burnt cream luscious enough (I sampled some) for an upscale Paris eatery. Including my Panama beer and my visitors' two sodas, the bill came to a very reasonable $66.00 for the three. I hope El Castillo will be my new favorite forever restaurant in Portobello. It had great food, excellent service, reasonable prices, a nice atmosphere and that typical Portobello view that one wants to gaze at for hours. However, I fear that Richard may cook too well to last in a small coastal town that is too quiet except for weekends. So, when this chef-sailor-adventurer inevitably moves on to the next place, El Castillo and its menu will change. I hope it gets a new chef also can cook so well and that Tatiana and her smile stay on the job.

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Thank RobtDurham
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 March 2016

We had read on several forums about this place and were excited about the Thai food. Firstly the place has a rustic charm and the location is great. That is where it ends unfortunately. Most of the people staying there were a bit feral, somehow walking naked through the restaurant had become accepted as had smoking weed. Hey, each to their own but I and my 1 year old child were trying to enjoy our lunch.
And where were the staff when this was happening? Great question, one which I asked several times, including to get some cutlery. And for a drink. And for the bill.
I would have also asked exactly which part of Thailand the pad thai came from, because after 7 visits to the country I never saw this on my plate (and thankfully never in my mouth!)
But therein lies another challenge for the owner of this establishment. Where do they get their staff, "Scowls 'r' Us"? "Smile-busters"? These folks hate their jobs, you know it, you feel it.
The ONLY reason I can give this place two points is the red curry, it was actually pretty good. Is it a reason to stop here, in my humble opinion, NO!

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Thank markaschmitt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 March 2016 via mobile

Me and mi amigo ben had just sailed from cartagena to Portobelo and our captain yu yu recommended this as a place to stay. We also went and looked at the other hostel captain jacks. We are very happy we stayed at El castillo, it had a friendly and relaxed atmosphere and staff was generally awesome. There seemed to be quite a few locals who would come in for food and drinks. In particular, Richard who seemed to be the manager was super super nice. On our last day he took me surfing for free at his secret spot, he then picked up Ben took us to town and bought us breakfast? I don't know what we did exactly to recieve such special treatment, but I honestly can say it was truly refreshing to experience such genuine hospitality so far from home. I would recommend anyway but wow, we got lucky. Also it's right on the bay and you can see all the ships and great sunsets. Maybe a small downside I can think of, its 15 minute walk to town or 2 dollar cab. GO GO GO and happy trails...

Thank Eric R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 February 2016

The food here was decent and well priced. Location is excellent; right on the water with a relaxed atmosphere / pub feel. Desserts were the highlight!

Thank Tressa C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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