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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
  • "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
  • "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
  • "I have been here several times and my experience has vaired. I placed service lower because the service has been questionable. Service at my last experience could be placed on the wait staff, kitchen and buser. It took forever for the waitress to greet me and offer me a drink. (15+minutes) Dirty appetizer dishes were left on our table up until the entree was served. Entree's took about an hour to come out of the kitchen. I do love their food here so I am hoping they can set the bar higher on who they are hiring for service. I know Santa Cruz is not a "service" type community like Monterey and recruitment is minimal, it may be in the owners best intersest to provide training for their staff."
    Dined on 7/1/2014
  • "Overall a great way to celebrate our anniversary and kick off a great weekend at the beach. We arrived early for our reservations, so spent a little time at the bar with a bartender who was very informative. High ceilings, open floor plan with tables nicely spaced, plus the courtyard [which would be great for lunch or when the weather cooperates] make it a great spot for two. Every dish was excellent, although those who have commented that it is not true Afghan are correct. Especially loved that when a dish comes with 3 sauces, you do not get a third of each - you get 3 portions."
    Dined on 6/27/2014
  • "My girlfriend and I came here for her 21st birthday. The food was great, I ordered the lamb shank and it was tasty and reasonably priced. My girlfriend ordered the Anar Chicken (at Yelp's advice) and she enjoyed that as well. My only problem with Laili's was that the drinks were a little on the pricey side."
    Dined on 6/26/2014
  • "We enjoyed eating on the patio. I always feel like I am dining in Europe not Santa Cruz, downtown. Our food was "ok". The chicken in the kabob was a little dry and the prawn noodle dish wasn't very flavorful. The strawberry salad needed a little more items to make it more interesting. The creme burle was great and the wine was tasty. The service was good. I do like to dine here, but the food is getting a little predictable...."
    Dined on 6/26/2014
  • "Had a Friday afternoon lunch here with some business cohorts and was pleasantly surprised not only with the quality of the food (I had a pasta & salmon special), but the ambiance of the outdoor patio. Great spot, very nice service, wonderful food...I'll be back."
    Dined on 6/26/2014
  • "The food is consistently excellent and delicious at Laili. Great ambience and aesthetic too!"
    Dined on 6/25/2014
  • "There is nothing not to like about this gem of a restaurant! The food is fantastic, the service excellent, the ambiance lovely, and they offer outdoor dining on an enclosed patio, as well! I had a small lunch meeting there with two colleagues yesterday. Every item we ordered was absolutely delicious, even the lime ginger coolers were worth mentioning. The crown to the meal was a rose meringue layered with fresh strawberries in a lovely balsamic glaze. Exquisite! This was my third dining experience at Laili. Every time I've been there, I've been impressed with both the food and the service. I highly recommend this restaurant!"
    Dined on 6/25/2014
  • "It took the server 30 minutes to take our lunch order (from reservation time). For lunch - this just doesn't work. I will be back and let them know before sitting down what we need. Thanks!"
    Dined on 6/25/2014
  • "We took a great foodie friend to Laili for lunch the other day. It was out first visit. Being on a side street it it easy to walk rich thy this place without noticing. I have many times. When you enter it is grand. It is vert tastefully decorated and has a wonderful side patio for dinning. The food is simply amazing. The food is mostly Mediterranean. The entries are thoughtful and delicious. Even the flatbread and tabbouleh were to die for. They also have some really interesting drinks like the ginger limeaid with mint and basil. Fantastic! The service is perfect and the whole operation in the dinning room is very smooth. I can not wait to go back and try more of the menu!"
    Dined on 6/25/2014
  • "I had forgotten I'd been here before - but a great joy to be reminded. Great place. Highly recommended."
    Dined on 6/24/2014
  • "I've been coming to this place for the last couple of years and I can't get enough of the eggplant dish. I absolutely love this dish. Great every time I order it. The wine list is good, the vegetables are always cooked perfectly I can't recommend this place enough!"
    Dined on 6/24/2014
  • "I was disappointed that they did not do anything special for my daughter who was celebrating her birthday; I had mentioned this in my reservation notes."
    Dined on 6/21/2014
  • "Great food, atmosphere (outside dining is paradise!) and service. That's why we come here for special occasions and anytime occasions."
    Dined on 6/17/2014
  • "We loved sitting in the beautiful patio and the food at Laili was superb from start to finish. The leek dumplings had great flavor and we enjoyed the beet salad. I had the eggplant with pomegranate which was succulent and flavorful - will definitely give it a repeat performance! My husband had the salmon special and raved about the tenderness and the great sauce. This was our first visit but we will return for sure!"
    Dined on 6/17/2014