There are several supermarkets in the area, ranging from minisupers to megastores. The best shopping is done in Chitre (1.5 hours away) with a variety of fresh produce available. But there are ways to get groceries more locally.
- Meats -> for variety: Poll Mart (Chitre), for cheapess: Xtra (Chitre)
- Veggies -> for organics: Azuero Organic (Playa Venao), for variety: Riba Smith (Chitre), for fresh/cheap: Supercarnes (Las Tablas), Pollmart (Chitre), Veg truck (Playa Venao), Xtra (Chitre)
- Fish -> Xtra (Chitre), local fishermen (Pedasi), Riba Smith (Chitre)
- Baked goods -> Riba Smith
- Toys/School supplies -> Poll mart
- Booze : for import wines & beers: Riba Smith (Chitre), for cheap domestic beers: Xtra (Chitre) is probably cheapest but Supercarnes (Las Tablas) is great too
- Bulk shopping: Pricesmart (Panama City)
- Side note: Chicken = Toledano has by far the best chicken and eggs. The chicken is moist, the eggs are a healthy orange. They are sold at Riba, Xtra, but if you’re able to, best to buy in bulk at Pricesmart.
Largely grouped –
Riba Smith : Come here for: Imports, rare items.
They carry everything from tofu, imported beers/wines, kale, chia seeds, arugula, cold cuts, cheeses, pate, salmon, everything. They also serve good coffee and ice cream, as well as sandwiches. They have their own recycling center if you want to take your recyclables here. One drawback is that the meats & vegetables are pricey, even though they are not always fresh.
Super Pollmart : Come here for: meats, veggies, kids’ knick knacks, frozen items.
The meats are good quality (esp the pork) and have a very wide variety of cuts available. The vegetables are great too – occasionally they have some exotic types. On the second floor is a wide area featuring school supplies, kids’ toys, baby items (cribs, toilets, clothes, bottles, etc), home electronics, party supplies, etc.
Xtra : Come here for: fish, vegetables.
The frozen fish selection features a lot of local catches – snapper, clams, etc. There is also a great vegetable selection (cheap!) and is the only supermarket that doesn’t require you to weigh ahead of time as they can check out directly at the cashier.
Supercarnes : Come here for: vegetables, general knicknacks.
I am impressed with their vegetable selections lately! There are a variety of fresh and wonderful items – plump eggplants, paprika, lettuce. There’s also a section that sells auto parts, kids’ toys, hair products.
Chinos are local minisupers. They are everywhere in Pedasi ranging from small to medium-sized. They sell household items (pots, pans), groceries, auto parts, water/sporting equipment, shoes, etc. Very basic (and some bootleg/cheapy) stuff. They also sell cell phone prepaid cards and can change out your propane tank. The veggie truck also makes a stop at Aires del Mar so if you miss the truck, you can get your veg fix here. They are useful as they carry most of your daily needs, but for weekly/biweekly groceries I generally make the trip to Chitre as they carry a wider range of products.
Veggie Truck : Comes Mondays and Thursdays from Chiriqui to Pedasi/Playa Venao. They bring crates of vegetables and fruits to supply the local hotels but also available to purchase directly (sold by weight).
Azuero Organic: A new initiative at Eco Venao that features organic products from their permaculture garden as well as semi-organic products (i.e. minimal insecticides) from their farming partner in Chiriqui. A wide variety of products such as moringa, noni, cherry tomatoes, kombucha, radicchio, etc. Delivery is available to the area for $2 or pick up at Eco Venao (12pm/1:30pm – 6pm).
Fruit stands : Pop up between Las Tablas/Chitre. During dry season (Jan-Mar) there are also trucks selling watermelons and pineapples in the middle of Chitre and Las Tablas for ~$1-2 each. The best is buying an “agua de pipa” which are chilled young coconuts with a hole drilled at the top. A straw is inserted to drink the cold coconut water straight out of the coconut! These are sold for $1 and are a wonderful beverage to have on the road.
Pricesmart (Panama City – Via Espana, Tumba Muerto. Capira): Membership is $30 per year but more than makes up for it. If you travel to the city often, it’s easy to load up your car for the ride back. Sometimes items like diapers, toilet paper, detergent, cereal, milk, etc are better bought in bulk!
Chino (by Super 99 in Chitre)
Foodie or Mini max (Panama City, @ Bal Harbour shopping center in Obarrio)
Super Kosher (Panama City)
Riba Smith carries a few items