El Templete Restaurant derives its name from its proximity (less than 50 meters) to a monument, which, erected in 1828, evokes the founding of the city of Havana in 1519. Blessed by the 2004 foundation celebrations, when the town turned 485 years old, this establishment reopened its doors to bring back seafood tradition in the same atmosphere of decades ago.
Overlooking the harbour, the eating space is split into two halves: an outdoor alfresco area accommodated under a large awning, and a pleasant indoor dining room with starched tablecloths and expensive-looking wine glasses. This restaurant features artwork by important Cuban artists who have joined a project devised by Basque chef Arkaitz Echarte Guerecaechevarría and Cuban artist Alexis Leyva (Kcho). This means that each month, an artist exhibits his/her work and illustrates the menu offered during that time. The menu meets the exhibitor’s preferences, leaving his/her print in different places within the restaurant.
El Templete is the jewel in Old Havana’s culinary crown. Its Gallego chef’s Arkaitz Etxarte sophisticatedly simple take on traditional ingredients gladdens the hearts of Havana foodies who flock to El Templete for his mango duck and chateaubriand accompanied by delightful side dishes and a short but well chosen wine list. Puddings are Lucullan, too: no one should leave.
As well as the quality restaurant, the bar is a pleasant place for a drink without any hassle–no mojito or Cuba Libre here but instead a range of good scotches and quality wines available by the glass. The service here is probably the best in the city: quick, efficient, young, positive. It is so good; it presents a problem only for the lack of options to complain!
This is not a cheap place–perhaps nor should it be–and outside can get a bit busy since as well as a view of the harbour, you also get a view of the busy road with traffic rumbling by. That is about that in terms of criticisms and while other newer places (especially the wave of new paladares) have eroded Templete’s margin, it still remains one of Havana’s best places to eat.
El Templete (Restaurant Review) Havana
As far as I’m concerned, this is the best restaurant for seafood in Havana. It might be a bit pricey but in my opinion good value for your money. I hadn’t been there in about a year and was sorry for that. I had forgotten how good it was. I must come more often in the future. The drinks were also a bit pricey (still less than half what I would pay at home) but the wine list wasn’t too bad. I found a decent Spanish Rosé by Torres in the mid-CUC 20’s range that we were happy with so much that we had a second bottle. The decor has never really appealed to me. Considering how good the food is, the furnishings are a little outdated. Small price to pay for the best seafood in the city. The location makes up for it, right at the end of the Malecón facing the harbor.
This was going to be the last meal I was to have in a restaurant before leaving to go home. I ordered way too much food but I knew that. I wanted to try a few dishes I hadn’t tried in the past. I had the Scallop and Steamed Clams to start and my companion had the Albacor Stuffed Pimientos. The Scallop was not at all what I expected. The presentation was beautiful, a single plump scallop sitting on the half shell, done simply in garlic and olive oil. It needed a bit of salt but otherwise it was tender and sweet. The bowl of clams was done in garlic, white wine and olive oil, just the way I would have them at home. Tasty and no sand, which is always a fear of mine when I have clams. The Pimientos my companion ordered were surprisingly good. The Albacor was fished fresh that day for the restaurant (they have their own people who fish for them every day) and mashed up very fine after being cooked, just like she likes it. She enjoyed it tremendously. As a main course I had what I usually have, the Tuna. It was a decent sized loin cooked perfectly for me, a little pink in the middle, served with (canned) white asparagus and the plate dotted with squid ink. My companion had the Whole Snapper, butterflied and deboned. Both dishes were done with garlic and olive oil, exactly how I would do it and hers served with few potatoes and vegetables. We shared a mixed salad that was almost a Nicoise with tuna, olives, tomato and hard-boiled egg with greens. Way too much food. Finished with a crème brûlée, very nice, an espresso and Havana Club Barrel Proof Rum.
The service was great as always and Alejandro, the sommelier, was knowledgeable and a pleasure to talk to. I had the opportunity to meet the chef, William Fernández, who has been with the restaurant awhile. A tall man who appears to be a little shy. I’ll try to get his story one day. It was a great experience that cost me CUC 128 but should in no way be an example of what it should cost here. Without going overboard, dinner or lunch for two with wine and tip should be around CUC 70-80. It may seem like a lot but as I said, great value. If it’s in your budget, I recommend you give a try to this consistently good restaurant.
This is a great restaurant that I should have reviewed months ago. I’ve been coming here a couple of years and have yet to have a bad experience. On this last visit, in addition to my date, I brought along a friend of mine who has never been to Havana. This was the first restaurant we ate at on this trip and I wanted to show my friend that you could find good food in Cuba. It was 11pm on a Friday night. Another excellent dinner and my friend was impressed.
My friend started with the seafood bisque. It’s usually a good bet in Cuba but isn’t always done right. On this particular occasion it was excellent and full of flavor. It tasted like they actually used some seafood in this dish. We also had a Templete style Hummus that we always order for the middle of the table as an appetizer. It’s simple but always good even though it’s not like the one I have back home. My friend and I both had the Tuna steak as our main course. I’ve had it here on other visits and have always been happy with it. This time was no exception, cooked to perfection, just slightly undercooked, the way I like it. My date had the Red Snapper filet that was moist and delicious. All the dishes had a simple but lovely presentation.
Once again El Templete did not disappoint and it’s the reason that I continue to come here for some of the best seafood in the city. Although we didn’t have any this time, they have a large assortment of desserts which are as delicious as they are imaginative. I forgot to take the bill with me but for the three of us, all the food, two bottles of wine and service was approx CUC 110. When just the two of us have gone in the past, the bill is usually around CUC 70 all in with one bottle of wine.
Located at the end of the Malecón just behind the Plaza de Armas, it’s an excellent spot to grab a bite to eat while walking around Old Havana. I strongly recommend a visit to this restaurant if you’re in the area