TAWLA.

Arabic for 'Backgammon.' Like our cuisine, backgammon is shared among the whole East of the Mediterranean region, going by 'Tavla' in Turkey, and 'Tavli' in Greece, and 'Tabula' in Byzantine Greek. In addition to 'Tawla,' the Arabs sometimes refer to the game as 'Shesh Besh.' The exact naming clearly reflects how widely shared this game is in the region as the word 'Shesh' is Farsi for the number '6' and 'Besh' is Turkish for the number '5'. Now what makes this name most exciting is the fact that Tawla also means table which brings it back to the concept behind our restaurant.

Despite a political history rich with shifting centers and borders, uncompromising climate and geography contributed to a common Eastern Mediterranean culinary identity. Its food is the product of millennia of cultural cross-pollination across Greece, Turkey, the Levant, and Iran. Yet, the cuisine of each of these regions has evolved its unique versions of the same dishes due to religions, the ebb and flow of empires, and its interaction with neighboring cultures.

Tawla weaves together these culinary connections without losing the diverse colors of each thread. We think of our restaurant as a mythical island that places Northern California at the culinary epicenter of the cosmopolitan Eastern Mediterranean coastal cities of Athens, Istanbul, Izmir, Damascus, Aleppo, Tripoli, Beirut, Haifa and Alexandria.