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Feb 27, 2009 08:44 PM

Tulum: El Tabano - crazy good!

While we had read the rave reviews of this place, and set our sights high, El Tabano, (accent on the first "a"), still amazed us. The food was as superb and unexpected as the other readers had promised but what nobody talked about was the theatrics of the place. Israel, the Mexico City waiter with the hip glasses, announced to us with true sincerity that he was very happy that day. My guess is that he is very happy every day. If I could eat there every day I would be too. Even as he translated the menu to a group of patrons, his enthusiasm with the food was palpable. Part of the charm of the place also comes from the wonderful guerrilla set design, from the juantily hung El Tabano sign and the empty window frame suspended by the bathroom to the Rube Goldberg outdoor sink apparatus. The fact is that El Tabano is dinner theater with stellar food. What ever you do while you're in Tulum, or anywhere near Tulum, do not miss having a meal at El Tabano, or two, or three...

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    1. re: chowcito

      The dinner was so complex and unique that I can't remember what it was, just that it was awesome. Also the menu was in Spanish. Israel read it to us and when he stopped and said something was great that night we ordered it. Personally, I don't think you can go wrong ordering anything on the menu. For lunch we had the fish tacos and avocado salad and they were mouth watering! Go. Eat.

        1. re: Sepiatone

          What'd a dinner for two cost you with drinks, appetizer, tip, etc.?

          1. re: chowcito

            Don't remember, but whatever it was I would've paid double!

            1. re: Sepiatone

              Do you own or work at El Tabano, Sepiatone?

                1. re: chowcito

                  My wife just told me we paid 750 pesos for dinner. (appetizers, two entrees, two drinks)

              1. re: chowcito

                We loved El Tabano too! I say it's a must-eat. Visited on 1/12/11.

                *chile poblano crepes (muy delicioso!)
                *cold avocado, cucumber, mint soup

                *pork in wine sauce (almost like a tapenade with a bit of spice and peppers)
                *grouper in a pumpkin sauce

                *Flan (There's no difference between good flan and bad flan" -Wag the Dog)

                Total for 2 with drinks was about 720 pesos. Pretty reasonable for dinner on the beach. Usually our bills at other places were 900-1000 pesos. I recommend going into town for 100 peso tacos al pastor at Antojitos La Chiapaneca (end of Avenida Tulum across the street from the subway).

        2. I don't doubt that El Tabano is very good, but I do find this review suspect, as it is the OP's one and only contribution to Chowhound.

          The exact review is also on Trip Advisor - and surprise - it is his one and only contributtion to that site as well!

          I am looking for a restaurant in Tulum, and am considering El Tabano... anyone been lately?

          6 Replies
          1. re: NellyNel

            We were there in March/April 2009. Tabano was indeed our favorite -- our review of Tulum here:


            1. re: chowcito

              Thanks Chowcito!

              I appreciate your long and detailed report.
              We know we'll only have one diner splurge in Tulum and I am torn beween Cetli and El Tabano.
              The food at Cetli seems to appeal to me more, but the atmosphere of El Tabano looks really lovely and though the food isnt "calling" me for some does get great reviews...

              Thanks again

              1. re: NellyNel

                There a nice bit on tripadvisor in the Tulum forum titled Casa dos Besos - the writer recently had a great meal there after striking out at some of my faves.
                If you stop by, remember your bug spray - it's on the jungle side and the air can be quite still.

                1. re: pepper131

                  thanks pepper!

                  I'll be sure to check it out!

                  1. re: pepper131

                    Thanks pepper -I did check it out - sounds good...I do think we'll try El Tabano...but no matter how much research I do before a trip - we always seem to end up playing it by ear - and I rarely get to do exactly what I planned on!
                    I will surely post a review of El Tabano if we do get there - or if we do come up with a great (or very poor!) meal elsewhere!


                  2. re: NellyNel

                    I'm a little late coming into this discussion but I was just in Tulum yesterday as part of a trip to the Riviera Maya and ate at Cetli. (A friend had heard how wonderful it is.) I can't speak for other places but can only encourage people to go to Cetli. The owner/chef, Claudia, is totally charming, intense and sincere about her restaurant. The setting (we ate outside in the roofed garden area) was magical. The food and wine suggestion were delicious. It was pricey, no question - $65 per person - but worth every cent. The food has mayan influences as well as influences from other parts of Mexico, notably Oaxaca. There is nothing pro forma about this place. There is no question I would come here again if I had an opportunity. Once a week if I were here for any length of time!

              2. It is that good! We were there one year ago... so I don't remember what we had - but it was delicious!

                And truth be told - there's not many options in Tulum. So it isn't a hard choice.