I have written about it before, the changing economic face of Boquete Panama but I fear I must seize the moment and reiterate.
As you drive out of Bajo Boquete toward David you will pass the new El Dorado center. What was previously a MiniSuper and hardware store now has a new Chinese restaurant, Ying’s
and a New Panamanian Tipico, Dorado Park. Dorado Park is owned and operated by the same people who deliver my favorite breakfast and a great lunch value at Central Park in Bajo Boquete, call them Yang.
Here in one little center featuring two little restaurants is the contrast happening in Boquete. Dorado Park, Yang, is where an average Panamanian can afford to eat a quality meal in a pleasant but un-extraordinary environment and the other Ying, a restaurant targeted at the Gringo population.
Ying’s is beautiful inside.
Dorado Park is simple.
Yings has a menu that would be reasonable in North America.
Dorado Park has a menu that is reasonable in Panama.
There is the Ying and Yang of the dilemma. In David there are several good Chinese restaurants, typical is the Nueva China where you can get a nice bowl of WonTon Soup for $2.
This is the $2 WonTon Chica from Nueva China above. The WonTon for $5.50 from Ying’s is below.
Both use the same technique of adding lots of noodles into the soup to make then appear to be overloaded with meat, wontons and vegetables.
$3 for a pot of Tea? It is $1 in David and free at the Golden Unicorn in Panama City, a far better restaurant on all standards.
This article is not intended as a review of either restaurant, but as a comparison of the 50 kilometer transition from David Panama to what is being called Gringolandia, Boquete Panama. If a Chinese restaurant opened in David with $5.50 WonTon soup they would be closing or lowering prices in a very short time. The community would not support being raped.
In Gringolandia the results are more mixed, people view the “New Immigrants” here as wealthy fools at best, wealthy targets at worst. Unless you wish Boquete and ultimately most of Panama to become as expensive as North America you must vote now. Vote with your dollars, eat where your Panamanian neighbors eat, send the message to other restaurants that this is not North America this is Panama and charging inflated prices is bad for the economy, bad for Panamanians and in the long term bad for their businesses. Do the same with other gouging merchants. If a price is not marked on an item assume Gringo Bingo, higher for you, just say no and walk away.
To my knowledge two restaurants in Alto Boquete closed in December. Both The Pacifco Deli and La Fogata marketed to the Gringo population, both are gone now. La Fogata had prices low to a gringo, high to a Panamanian, Pacifico was just high. I have no knowledge of why they closed but I will dare to speculate the income did not sufficiently exceed the expenses. If they had adopted a business model targeting more than the tourists and gringo population perhaps the outcome might have been different?
The balance of Ying and Yang is difficult. If you crave a Chinese meal and you are in Boquete driving to David does not make sense, but maybe you can express your shock at the prices and say you would return more often if the costs were more like El Dorado the Yang next door.
The decision is yours, the opinion is mine.