Casa Escondida, meaning “hidden house” in Spanish, is a newly opened restaurant in the San Francisco area of Panama; a neighborhood characterized by its mix of wooden houses built upon stilts and what I think are called—someone correct me if I’m wrong—(neo) colonial style houses. Like much of Panama, San Francisco has undergone major changes in the last decade, transforming from being mostly residential to a thriving commercial neighborhood benefiting from a centric location bordered by four major avenues and a grid based street layout; a rarity in Panama’s messy web of nonsensical, unplanned roads. Unfortunately, with said commercial boom came the destruction of many of those aforementioned structures that represent our architectural DNA in order to make way for “modern” and bland skyscrapers, strip malls and apartment buildings. It’s really rare to find an entrepreneur or group of entrepreneurs that value our identity and are willing to preserve it, use it or enhance it as part of their business. That’s one of the reasons why Casa Escondida is so special.
Concealed behind lush trees on Calle 72 lies the inconspicuous one story house-turned restaurant led by chef Alfonso de la Espriella. An oasis of familiarity amongst the hustle and bustle of our ever-changing city, Casa Escondida is comforting not only because it offers straightforward and honest home cooking but because it does so in a charming and warm setting of vintage flea market and thrift store finds, salvaged wooden tables and tan leather chairs that make any meal at Casa Escondida feel like a Sunday supper at grandma’s—very nicely decorated—house.
Photos by me.