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  • Laili

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Laili Details

  • Dining Style: Casual Elegant
  • Website: http://www.lailirestaurant.com
  • Phone: (831) 423-4545
  • Hours of Operation: Lunch: 11:30 AM - 2:30 PM; Dinner: 5:00 PM - 9:00 PM, Friday and Saturday: 5:00 - 10:00 PM
    Open Tuesday - Sunday

  • Payment Options: AMEX, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
  • Cuisine: Mediterranean, Afghan
  • Dress Code: Casual Dress
  • Accepts Walk-Ins: Yes
  • Additional Details: Bar Dining, Counter Seating, Patio/Outdoor Dining, Personal wines welcome, Personal wines welcome (corkage fee applies), Takeout, Wheelchair Access, Wine
  • Private Party Facilities: Let Laili host your next event. Our large space and beautiful garden patio are perfect for weddings, receptions, showers, graduation parties, birthdays, private cocktail parties, fundraisers and much more. We are happy to work with you to accomodate a variety of party styles and budgets.
  • Private Party Contact: Michelle Naklowycz (831) 423-4545
  • Special Events & Promotions: Laili is a great location to host a variety of special events from small intimate weddings, and receptions to showers, birthdays and corporate events. We offer a charming garden patio which seats up to 50 guests and for a cocktail reception can accommodate 65. We also offer a spacious dining room with seating for 100 guests and cocktail reception for 120. If you wish to book the entire restaurant we can accommodate 150 guests seated or 185 guests for a cocktail reception.

Getting there

  • Cross Street: Pacific Avenue
  • Parking: Public Lot
  • Parking Details: Take advantage of free parking located on River Street at Front Street. In addition to metered street parking, there is also a parking lot at Front Street and Soquel and also at Locust Street and Pacific Avenue.
A word from Laili
For centuries a five thousand mile trade route has joined the Mediterranean to China through Afghanistan and India. Known mostly for the Silk Trade, the Silk Road has acted as a conduit of ideas, cultures, music, food & spices throughout all of its regions. Laili aims to bring the age old flavors and traditions of the Silk Road to life by creating a positive and relaxing environment with a culturally rich and flavorful dining experience.Continued
Foodspotting photos
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Awards voted by OpenTable diners
  • Diners' Choice WinnerBest Overall
  • Diners' Choice WinnerBest Ambiance
  • Diners' Choice WinnerBest Food
Diner Reviews
  • "Food and service were great. One dinner didn't like her entree (everything else was delicious) and the waiter took it off the bill and gave her a free dessert. The manager came over to check that everything was ok. The waiter offered to replace the entree with something else, but the other diners were already finished. The manager came over to ask what was wrong with the dish for future reference for the chef. We were very pleased with how they handled the situation. The squash Bolani appetizer was a standout and the dressing on the house salad was also delicious. This place pleased our 2 meat eaters, our pescatarian and our vegan."
    Dined on 8/16/2014
  • "We had previously eaten lunch in the outdoor courtyard and found it delightful. It is one of the prettiest places in Santa Cruz to eat. Five star ambience and 3 1/2 to star food. But, the other evening when we went for dinner, we had a different opinion. We ate in the indoor dining room, the ambience was average, and it was noisier than we prefer. Our server was attentive. We ordered meat dishes and each one was overcooked and dry, in spite of a request for rare. It was, at a minimum, medium well done. The baklava for dessert was flavorless and dry. Our server didn't hesitate to take it off the bill, which we appreciated. We will go again for lunch in the courtyard and give it another chance but will probably go elsewhere for dinner."
    Dined on 8/16/2014
  • "Delicious food in a beautiful setting. We were visiting from the Midwest and are significant foodies. Hannah, our server, was very excited about our selections to share. Highly recommend the roasted cauliflower and the pomegranate eggplant is a delicious flavor. The jalapeño pesto was the perfect sauce. The beet salad was a great starter."
    Dined on 8/14/2014
  • "Food was very tasty- nan with unusual dip, Kadoo Boranee, lamb burger, chicken flatbread and three item combo- we were pleased with our meals! Friendly staff all around. We went for a lunch meeting and were given a quiet garden table. Absolutely will return to give dinner a try."
    Dined on 8/14/2014
  • "We enjoyed a great meal on the patio and had perfect and spirited service from Stacy."
    Dined on 8/13/2014
  • "This restaurant is very inviting and well done with a high aesthetic point of view. The real gem however is the food. It is simply prepared but unusual and absolutely delicious. Freshness and high quality abound, and the taste profiles were unusually excellent. Saying it is just Mediterranean isn't accurate - the dishes span further east and inland. The pomegranate eggplant was wonderful and the filet was melt in your mouth tender. The sauces shine and are not your norm - and neither is this restaurant."
    Dined on 8/10/2014
  • "We went to Laili for the first time making reservations on open table a week ahead. We arrived and there were some groups standing at the hostess stand, no hostess. She came up we informed her of our reservation she said nothing then walked away yelling the name of another party. Then she came back gathering menus we asked if there was a delay and she said no I'm going to seat you took us to a table two feet away we sat it was fine our waiter was fabulous. Then we realized there was an outdoor area. The hostess didn't ask us for preference on seating she didn't communicate at all, I think she was a bit overwhelmed but I'm not sure why the restaurant was half full while we were there. The food was amazing!"
    Dined on 8/9/2014
  • "The service was great. The food wonderful. The atmosphere lovely."
    Dined on 8/8/2014
  • "Laili is my favorite restaurant in Santa Cruz - you should try it out."
    Dined on 8/8/2014
  • "A great venue to take out of state, out of town visitors. The atmosphere for the outdoor dining transports you to exotic places. The fountains, ferns and creeping fig on the walls makes for a very peaceful and restful dining experience. The fresh flowers greeting your entrance into this multi level space is so welcoming. This space was transformed from an office building into this incredible restaurant. It is located in the downtown area of Santa Cruz and is just a block off the main street, Pacific Avenue. OH THE FOOD. It is always fresh, with seasonal produce being used, i.e. fresh peach salad with candied walnuts on a bed of fresh greens, as well as local fish specials daily or weekly. The lime-ginger drink is very special."
    Dined on 8/8/2014
  • "Laili's is a warm, comfortable place for diniing in downtown Santa Cruz. Great food, friendly service . Good vegetarian fare. A great place to relax with friends and enjoy good food."
    Dined on 8/1/2014
  • "This was our fifth visit to Laili. As always, it was a wonderful experience. We ate in the courtyard and the ambiance was lovely. The courtyard is protected on all 4 sides so the wind was not a factor. The food is delicious. Everyone who we have taken to Laili has liked it very much. A real winner in Santa Cruz."
    Dined on 7/29/2014
  • "We began with the delicious Mediterranean appetizer plate which gave us a hint of what was to come. I had brought my foodie son for lunch and he was impressed, especially by the unusual peach vinaigrette salad that was the special that day, which he accompanied with his excellent chicken flatbread. I again had the lamb wrap that arrived with a small side salad with pomegranate, so tasty. It's lovely out in the patio and I lingered over the Pistachio Cardamom ice cream with a piece of Baklava while he enjoyed a cup of the French press coffee. I always enjoy my special lunches here and our server Stacy made sure our every wish was attended to."
    Dined on 7/29/2014
  • "The Mediterranean appetizer is a must served with a pitta bread it is simply delicious. I tried their Salmon special and it was simply outstanding! in a previous occasion I tried other dishes and all were good, delicate mixtures of tastes and very reasonable prices. I will definitely visit them again!"
    Dined on 7/27/2014
  • "The butternut squash with cucumber sauce was excellent. All four of us thought it was a highlight of our dinner. Service was great. Wine was wonderful."
    Dined on 7/26/2014
  • "We went vegetarian - and were rewarded with amazing flavors and wonderful food combinations. The signature eggplant with pomegranate is a standout, and the cauliflower with chick peas was lovely as well. Great sauces came on the side. Beet salad is a winner, a slightly sweet dressing was nice. Leeks in pasta pillows was a bit less interesting - the pasta was a bit rubbery and the filling bland. The garlic-infused yogurt sauce seems overwhelming in this dish. Dessert was a wonderful chocolate mousse. The Prosecco and ginger cocktail was nice - a bit sweet and not at the level of the meal. We would go back!"
    Dined on 7/26/2014
  • "This place was recommended to me by my boss and coworkers. Our waitress was very sweet and the food like nothing I have ever tasted in Santa Cruz. I had the pomegranate eggplant with rice and chard and it was absolutely delicious! We also ordered the Mediterranean dip plate with naan and were not disappointed. We ended dinner with french pressed cardamom coffee and did not at all feel rushed to leave-we talked for a while after dinner."
    Dined on 7/26/2014
  • "This was our first visit to Laili and we will definitely go back! Our party had appetizers and entrees and were especially impressed with the Pomegranate Eggplant and Filet Mignon Kebob. Also, the dip with the naan was extraordinary...not sure what it was but I could have eaten a soup bowl full of it! The outside seating is truly lovely especially as the sun went down. Our server was fabulous. Knowledgeable about the menu, very low key and friendly but also made sure our glasses were always full and plates cleared efficiently. Great food, amazing ambiance, friendly efficient service. What more could you want?"
    Dined on 7/25/2014
  • "I took my Sweetie to Laili (we'd been wanting to try it for some time) for his birthday and it was lovely in every way. In fact, I couldn't believe how low the check was when it came, so reasonable for this type of restaurant. I have to say though, I was disappointed with the fact that they never brought my guy a birthday dessert. When I made the reservation, I made SURE they knew it was his birthday. Then I had to change the TIME on our reservation and I made it clear AGAIN that it was his birthday, but it was never acknowledged by the staff. That did put a damper on the night for me. I actually asked the hostess if they DO that sort of thing and she confirmed "YES, if you let us know". Well I did, but they didn't. Disappointing..."
    Dined on 7/25/2014
  • "This is our 2nd trip to Lailis. First visit was because of an invite to a graduation group dinner, which was terrific. We vowed to return, to the patio, and were not disappointed. As before, the food was unique and delicious, service was great. Most portions are a sharable size so we got to try lots of dishes, all were wonderful. This will become our restaurant of choice for special occasions."
    Dined on 7/25/2014
  • "We had a great experience here. We were seated on the patio and enjoyed a nice dining atmosphere in a quiet romantic quiet garden setting. Very busy even on a Thursday evening. We were greeted promptly & seated without delay- probably because we had reservations. The food was exquisite- fragrant and delicious. We enjoyed a peach balsamic green salad, butternut squash appetizer as well as kebob entrees and desert. The presentation was lovely. Host and wait staff were super attentive without being intrusive. No comments here regarding wine as we do not drink alcohol. Will definitely return here on our next visit to Santa Cruz."
    Dined on 7/24/2014
  • "Dining on the patio garden and sampling some appetizers is a true culinary treat. The food is a mix of Mediterranean cultures and it is out of this world. We eat here regularly and have never been disappointed."
    Dined on 7/24/2014
  • "Lovely and delicious food, nicely presented. The watermelon smoothie was a particular treat, but so is the coffee at Lailì: it has cardamom. This restaurant is dependably enjoyable and has good offerings for vegetarians and vegans as well as omnivores."
    Dined on 7/24/2014
  • "celebrated a baby shower luncheon, sat outside, wonderful ambience - great food, service was outstanding, absolutely nothing was amiss - highly recommend for any event or just to have lunch or dinner"
    Dined on 7/22/2014
  • "Second time eating here. We were running late and the restaurant did a lot to accommodate our reservation. This is a gorgeous restaurant inside and out. We love dining in the outside patio. Everything on the menu is excellent, but the kids portions (kids menu) were pretty small for bigger kids. My 9 year old niece had to order 3 cheese dumpling kids meals ($8 x 3= $24 just for 9 delicious cheese dumplings!). Overall a great restaurant. We will definitely eat here whenever we come to Santa Cruz. Had kids with us and the only con was having to ask for crayons 3 times for the little ones which came towards the end of the meal."
    Dined on 7/19/2014
  • "The food was amazing and the outdoor dining created a beautiful ambience that was very romantic. I have had better service though. Our server was a very sweet could've been around more and provided more service. After the food arrived she did not come back to ask us if we wanted more water and didn't full our wine glasses. With that said I still tipped over 20%. I highly recommend it if you're looking for a place to take that special lady"
    Dined on 7/17/2014
  • "We had an amazing dinner at Laili. The Bolani for our starter was excellent and we especially enjoyed the jalapeño walnut sauce and the lemon yogurt sauce. My husband had their king salmon special. I enjoyed the roasted cauliflower dish. Couldn't have asked for a better experience at such a great price."
    Dined on 7/13/2014
  • "My husband and I have lived in Santa Cruz for >20 years but had not been to Laili's before. We will be going back. Great food and ambiance. Totally enjoyed our dining experience."
    Dined on 7/12/2014
  • "We were in Santa Cruz for a conference and found Laili on-line. The service was very good, food was more Afghanistan then Mediterranean. Lamb kebab was a bit dry. The 3 bean soup was excellent...the salad not so memorable. The Filet Mignon kebab was rather tough. Nice open interior, great outdoor seating, bathrooms not so convenient. We'd give it another go; trying other menu items next time."
    Dined on 7/12/2014
  • "I have had the opportunity to dine at Laili many times. I find the service, staff, and food to be always fresh, delicious, and a great visual presentation. Patio seating is a plus as you are surrounded by lush plants, and creative seating."
    Dined on 7/12/2014
  • "I've eaten at Laili several times and the food has always been excellent. The outside patio is surrounded by brick walls covered in ivy - it feels very comfortable - a quiet ambiance. The hospitality / service is outstanding as well. A lovely outing, with fabulous food, whether you go for lunch or dinner."
    Dined on 7/12/2014
  • "This is our 4th time dining at Laili and every time we've dined there the food and service has been outstanding. We've eaten on the outside patio twice and like it better there then inside, much quieter and romantic. We would recommend this restaurant to anyone wanting to celebrate a special occasion with food that is a little different than the norm at a very reasonable price. We'll be back!"
    Dined on 7/11/2014
  • "Unlike any other Middle Eastern restaurant. Not religiously authentic; they include pastas and other non-Middle Eastern items on the menu. Serve naan instead of pita. Best hummus and eggplant dips I've ever tasted. Super fresh salads. Salad at most middle eastern restaurants is perfunctory. Not here. Salmon main course was served with an overly sweet sauce. That's my only criticism of the food. My husband loved the vegi eggplant/pomegranate dish. Waitress was very helpful if a bit over friendly, but that appears to be the Santa Cruz style."
    Dined on 7/11/2014
  • "I love this restaurant. The food is consistently wonderful. You can order from the appetizer and salad section and have a great meal or move on to the entree section. Beautiful presentations and the food is divine. Our server was very friendly and we did not feel rushed. This was a dinner with an old friend and we had lots to talk about. I love the outdoor patio. It feels very intimate and even though there are tables around you with conversations going on, you don't feel intruded upon."
    Dined on 7/11/2014
  • "The architect/interior designer made the space absolutely lovely - calming, spacious and well-proportioned. The outdoor patio is like a jungle or a conservatory in all the right ways - secluded, bright and plant-filled. The food is unusual and excellent - beautifully presented."
    Dined on 7/6/2014
  • "I live in the Meca of restaurants (San Francisco, that is) and I've been more than impressed with Laili. The food is exquisite, with very unique flavors. To top that off, the service has exceeded all expectations. This is my second visit and M.N. has been nothing short of a WOW -- I now have another reason to visit Santa Cruz -- can't wait for next time."
    Dined on 7/4/2014
  • "I was skeptical when a friend suggested Laili, but the place turns out to be the find of the year for me. The food is excellent, the service is great, and the decor is about the best in Santa Cruz County. What more can you ask??"
    Dined on 7/3/2014
  • "We arrived early, 5pm and were seated promptly. Service good. Dood was outstanding. Can't wait to go again."
    Dined on 7/3/2014
  • "Having been to Laili, where I enjoyed the food and atmosphere, we decided to make a dinner reservation to celebrate my niece's 30th birthday. We had 6 people in our party. We were seated outside on the lovely patio, as I had requested, with no wait. There were heaters to keep us comfortable, so it was perfect! Our waitperson was excellent, and the food was delicious! We left happy - especially my niece, who loved it -including the surprise birthday chocolate mousse cup, with a candle."
    Dined on 7/2/2014
  • "My husband is not big into trying new things so this was me taking a chance. I've been to this restaurant before and absolutely loved it. My husband took a chance and ended up loving their food! I would recommend this place to everyone!"
    Dined on 7/1/2014