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A Tale of Two Tabules

On both sides of the border.
Courtesy photo

In Tijuana, just a short cab ride from the border crossing, is the city’s Gastronomic District—little known to the party-hardy tourists—where the fashionable populace go for fine dining and an international array of gourmet experiences.

One of the best of these eateries is the sleek, contemporary Tabule, brainchild of chef and restaurateur Moe Sadighian. Overlooking the Club Compestre golf course in the exclusive Chapultepec neighborhood, Tabule first brought global fusion cuisine with a Mexican flavor to this city in late 2004. The uniqueness of Sadighian’s recipes and the consistent quality of the dining experience earned Tabule numerous honors.

Bringing the success of Tabule to the U.S., Sadighian and his sister, Moji, opened a second Tabule in downtown San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter in June 2008. Here, as in Tijuana, Tabule delights diners’ palates with unusual combinations of international flavors, combined with the reinterpretation of the familiar.

Ceviche includes snail, octopus and shrimp tantalizingly blended with strawberries, nectarine, kiwi, apple, avocado and cucumber in a mandarin orange vinaigrette. Determined to dine on duck? At Tabule, you can choose grilled duck breast with a pomegranate reduction sauce and walnuts, or a half boneless duck with a vibrant chipotle raspberry sauce.

Although smaller in size than the TJ location, the San Diego Tabule offers the same menu (with the exception of the Tijuana restaurant’s sushi bar, which will be added soon in San Diego) and similar pricing.

At a time when many restaurants are in trouble, both Tabules are doing a thriving business, exceeding expectations this year by 50-60 percent. Because he has specifically geared these restaurants to locals who return often, Sadighian feels compelled to offer a consistently high level of quality. Freshness of ingredients is paramount, and Tabule uses no freezers.

“I’d rather run out of something than serve a dish that isn’t the best it can be,” says Sadighian. “We price our wines about 30 percent lower than other comparable restaurants, so they will move quickly. We change our menu about every six months, determined by availability of local ingredients. These recipes are all my own, they reflect who I am and how I feel about food, so I have a lot at stake.”

Banking on continuing success, Sadighian and Tijuana partners Miguel Marquez and Alberto Macias opened Funky Garcia’s Mexican Eatery & Bar in San Diego, around the corner from Tabule, in May of 2009.Offering traditional Mexican snack fare--like tacos, burritos and sopes—Funky Garcia’s is like the slightly raucous, casually dressed distant cousin you can count on for colorful family gatherings. And the family keeps growing—soon, there will be a third Sadighian-helmed restaurant in San Diego. Although keeping tight-lipped at this point, Sadighian hints that the newest addition will be near Petco Park and will have an entirely different concept than either Tabule or Funky Garcia’s.

Stay tuned.

Details »
  • City: San Diego
  • Phone: 619-238-0084
  • Name: Tabule
  • Address: 535 Fourth Avenue