Quesos Chela, Roadside food in Capira, Panama

Quesos Chela

Quesos Chela Empanada

I’ve spent a large portion of my adult life living abroad and traveling the globe.  Throughout that time I feel that I’ve become a connoisseur of road food.  When you spend hours driving the open road or on busses, a stop at a local eatery is always a welcome break.  You never know who you might meet, what sort of information you will gather or even where you will end up.  I’ve had planned trips take a totally different path because of people met and suggestions received at street side eateries.

I was ecstatic to discover Quesos Chela in the little town of Capira about an hour outside of Panama City.  Morning, noon and night, Quesos Chela’s is always busy.  It’s practically a required stop for anyone making the trek from Panama City to el Valle and neighboring beach towns.

Quesos Chela’s may be easy to pass but keep your eyes open for the bright red and yellow sign.  It’s on the right side of the road and located next to an abandoned gas station.

Parking can be a little crazy but don’t let that keep  you away.  Pull into and park at the gas station next to it, it’s fine.  Once parked and inside, an assortment of fresh-baked breads and artisan cheeses await.  Mozzarella, feta, goat cheese, queso fresco and so many others are just waiting for you!  All made locally and with the utmost attention to flavor you cannot find better, fresher or more reasonably priced cheese anywhere in Panama.  Want something to eat on the road? Go for the empanadas or the pizza.  Both are super delicious and always piping hot.

Thirsty? Quesos Chela’s has a juice bar!  Chicha’s (a blend of fresh Panamanian fruits and sugar) are available in all flavors.  My favorite is a mix of Piña and Maracuya (pineapple and passion fruit).  I can honestly say I’ve tried them all and they are all delicious.

Several empanadas, a pizza and a juice will run you less than $5.  Queso Chela’s is a quick and delicious Panamanian experience everyone should have.  There will almost always be a wait but never more than just a few minutes.  The workers offer speedy service.  Usually there are two separate lines.  One at the juice counter and one at the cheese counter.  You can get in either line and order both.

If you’re planning to drive through Panama you will probably pass by Quesos Chela. Take the time to stop in and grab something.  Trust me…you won’t be disappointed.