Laili
Laili

Laili

  • Dining Style: Casual Elegant
  • Website: http://www.lailirestaurant.com/
  • Phone: 8314234545x
  • 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: Afghan, Mediterranean
  • 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 8314234545x
  • Special Events: 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
See all photos
Awards voted by OpenTable diners
  • Diners' Choice WinnerBest Overall
  • Diners' Choice WinnerBest Ambiance
  • Diners' Choice WinnerBest Food
Laili reviews from OpenTable diners
220 reviews since May 22, 2014
Overall Rating4.4
  • Food4.6
    Service4.4
  • Ambiance4.5
    Noise LevelModerate
96% of reviewers would recommend this restaurant to a friend.
great for outdoor dining (157)fit for foodies (142)special occasion (116)romantic (97)neighborhood gem (89)great for lunch (82)good for groups (54)hot spot (29)notable wine list (25)great for brunch (19)scenic view (14)kid-friendly (14)late-night find (12)vibrant bar scene (3)Show More
  • Great for foodies
    JohnS
    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!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • great food and service
    Jopesche
    Dined on 6/24/2014
    I had forgotten I'd been here before - but a great joy to be reminded. Great place. Highly recommended.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, special occasion, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Love this restaurant
    lucylou
    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!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, romantic, special occasion, scenic view, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Special Event
    kcec
    Dined on 6/21/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Anniversary destination
    OpenTable Diner Since 2007
    Dined on 6/17/2014
    Great food, atmosphere (outside dining is paradise!) and service. That's why we come here for special occasions and anytime occasions.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, romantic
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Great food and ambiance
    lesismore
    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!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Great Downtown Dining
    liliomere
    Dined on 6/15/2014
    I always order a lot of appetizers and skip the main courses. The bolani and bouranee and particularly good. Last time I was there my date ordered the filet mignon kabab and that was quite delicious. We usually have great service although when it is cold outside the restaurant can get chilly especially if you are seated near the door to the patio.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Flavors getting old....
    Pickyifspendingmuchobucks
    Dined on 6/15/2014
    Is it just me? I am actually getting bored with the same flavors. I wish they had a more varied menu. This time I tried the pomegranite chicken and found it sort of dull. The appetizers, the chicken pizza and the meat dumplings, were still yummy though. My husband was happy with his lamb. Service started out fine then got very slow as they got more busy.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • wonderful as always
    TerriVIP
    Dined on 6/15/2014
    What can I say, the service is always outstanding, food creative/delicious and healthy. Ambience lovely. It is nice to see Santa Cruz wines and beers on the menu. We had the flatbread with chicken, parmesan and fig as an appetizer and I cannot rave enough about it! Delicious. Our favorite is the Eggplant Pomegranite Entrée. Sad to say that my daughter's education at UCSC ended with her graduation this weekend, so may not be able to come back very often, as we live in LA. It was always our and our daughter's favorite spot to go out during our visits to see her while in college. Guess we will have to find an excuse to return to Santa Cruz(that won't be hard).
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Hard to say....
    husbandisachef
    Dined on 6/15/2014
    Other dishes we ordered were great, but I really did not like the Pomegranate Eggplant dish, it was quite slimy and unappealing. I love the wonderful outdoor setting, but the indoor area was too loud with sound bouncing off the hard surfaces. I would have to preface any recommendation with the two comments above.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Good food and good value
    ChesVIP
    Dined on 6/15/2014
    We were a party of 7 for lunch to celebrate a graduation and a birthday. We were seated immediately and a friendly waitress offered us drinks and told us the specials. We had some appetizers and flatbread - hummus, baba ghanoush and a really interesting house made dressing followed by a mix of salads and one or two lamb entrees. The Middle-Eastern inspired food was excellent and the service is friendly and attentive. It was also a good value though they tack on an obligatory 18% gratuity for parties of 6 or more which I dislike as it gives no latitude except upwards for the tip.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, good for groups
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • wonderful lunch, cold hostess
    amaliek
    Dined on 6/14/2014
    I was with three other adults and two elementary-school aged children for lunch last Saturday. The service was wonderful, as was the food. We enjoyed everything. We had a bit of a bumpy start when we first approached the hostess - we were 15 minutes early for our lunch reservation and she was not happy to see us, did not say she would try to accommodate us a little early -- but she seemed to find her footing after a few minutes and did end up seating us before our reservation.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, great for lunch, scenic view, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Great dinner
    Dknvgk
    Dined on 6/13/2014
    Wonderful dinner! Only reason for 4/5 stars was my lamb kabobs were slightly overlooked.
    Special Features:
    kid-friendly, good for groups, romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • la tee da Laili is delicious
    lostinthewillows
    Dined on 6/10/2014
    We had a birthday dinner for a small group on the patio and it was magical. A beautiful setting with delicious unique taste treats. A big thumbs up. Just go Inside is a bit cavernous and loud but the outdoor patio (with lots of heat lamps) is wonderful the food is fantastic
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, romantic, special occasion, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Amanda
    Dined on 6/7/2014
    By far one of our favorites in Santa Cruz. Definitely our go-to for special occasions and for celebrating with out of town guests. The food is excellent, the service fabulous, and the ambiance is great! The enclosed outdoor patio is gorgeous ... and warm, even on the cooler Santa Cruz evenings. Reservations are necessary ... be sure to make one at least 1 week in advance. If you're in Santa Cruz, you've GOT to try Laili!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Better upscale dining in Santa Cruz
    parboy
    Dined on 6/7/2014
    Laili provides an upscale cosmopolitan vibe: a very much a welcome addition to Santa Cruz. The room is elegant and simple, decorated in gold and brown tones with accents of blue. The outdoor section is cozy and floral and in demand in good weather so be specific when you make your reservation if you want to sit outside. The menu, self-described as "Silk Road" which can be interpreted as a blend of Indian/Pakistani/Afghani fare, is somewhat limited but broad enough to please most people who would choose a mid-east style restaurant. The wine list, like the menu is limited but has some variety in its selections. Service, while not bad, is the weakest link - depends on the server. This is a favorite restaurant and I recommend a visit.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, great for lunch, late-night find, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2008
    Dined on 6/7/2014
    Enjoyed the food and service - both very good. However, it is very noisy - not the place for a quiet conversation.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great for vegetarians
    OpenTable Diner Since 2008
    Dined on 6/7/2014
    This would have been a five star food review based on the salads and eggplant entrees ordered by the vegetarians in our party. The chicken and beef kabobs were pronounced "good, not great, have had better elsewhere" and the mixed veggies with okra did not go over well either. Service was attentive, the patio was lovely but a bit chilly despite the heat lamps.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Jasmine
    Dined on 6/7/2014
    the garden is very unique with its high walls, and beautiful interesting foliage.....a nice retreat to a secret world with exotic foods. Very fun.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, romantic, special occasion, great for lunch, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Laili
    Lolo
    Dined on 6/6/2014
    Loved the trout. My friends best meal in Santa Cruz
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, special occasion, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Tired of waiting
    Luv2eat
    Dined on 6/6/2014
    I love the food at Laili's, and I eat there quite often. They really need to work on seating people a little more efficiently. What they really need is a hostess or a manager. My friend and I waited at least 10 min while they sat two different parties in front of us. The waitress who was very polite would ask how many in their party, then would tell them she would go set up the table.....she comes back and then seats them. She comes up to the next party of six and tells them she will go set up the table also and they wait a couple minutes and then seats them. At this point the line is out the door and people are waiting outside.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, special occasion, great for lunch, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Blossom
    Dined on 6/5/2014
    Hate to have to ask for bread constantly, service was very slow, loud, rushing us once served...
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • very satisfied
    Andrea
    Dined on 6/5/2014
    I arrived on time and as requested was seated in the lovely courtyard. My friends were 35 minutes late driving from SF airport! The waitress was exceedingly kind and welcoming and accepting of the delay, so I could simply relax and enjoy an Afghan chai, the flavor of which transported me instantly back to Afghanistan in 1971. That was fun! Happily, my friends arrived and we were all delighted with the excellent and exotic flavors of everything. The food quality is truly exceptional. You can't go wrong whatever you order! The service was great, too. In all we had a perfectly wonderful time. Needless to say I highly recommend it. (Noise level outdoors is fine. Indoor dining gets pretty high volume.)
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, special occasion, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • A real gem
    Goldfinch
    Dined on 6/4/2014
    We loved everything about this place. The menu is interesting, the prices are reasonable and the food was well prepared, beautifully presented and delicious. The service was delightful. All the staff were friendly and nothing was too much trouble. There is a lovely courtyard to sit in, with heaters when it gets a bit nippy. I would be a regular at Laili if I lived in Santa Cruz. Highly recommended.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Excellent birthday choice!
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 6/3/2014
    I chose Laili for my birthday dinner with several friends. There is something for everyone on their menu, and the choices are unique and fun. I got the beet salad and apricot chicken flatbread. I loved every bite! I also got their ginger mint soda(non-alcoholic), which was so good that 4 more people in our group ordered them as well. I'd eaten there before and this dinner did not disappoint. It also exposed some friends to new food choices, which is good.
    Special Features:
    kid-friendly, fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, special occasion, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • spacious dining area,wonderful food
    dinerdeliteVIP
    Dined on 5/31/2014
    we enjoyed dinner before a movie 2 days ago; lamb tenderloins and pomegranite eggplant, all delicious and with the shared strawberry salad and warm nan, we were well-satisfied.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Favorite restaurant in Santa Cruz
    Globetrekkingfoodie
    Dined on 5/30/2014
    I spent the weekend in Santa Cruz trying all of the local cuisine and Laili was my favorite hands down. Great atmosphere, wonderful food, and friendly waitstaff. If you don't mind dropping some coin this is the spot to go.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, romantic, special occasion, great for lunch, neighborhood gem, hot spot, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Laili's is great!!!
    pattieturtle
    Dined on 5/28/2014
    This place is amazing. A gem in the middle of town. I will be going back soon for lunch with a friend.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, special occasion, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 5/24/2014
    Wonderful food. Great service! A great selection to choose from. Will definitely return.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, special occasion, late-night find, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great meal al fresco
    Jerrysview
    Dined on 5/23/2014
    The food was superb, the patio was lovely, the service was fine (not over-played). It was our second visit and there will be a third!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Ratings-Only Reviews
    Based on 110 ratings-only reviews submitted since May 22, 2014
    • Overall Rating4.4
    • Food4.5
    • Ambiance4.5
    • Service4.5
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • The following 647 reviews are from the Laili reviews archive.
  • perfect lunch with a friend
    GAbeach
    Dined on 5/20/2014
    I have been here many times and brought a neighbor friend who had never been. We had a wonderful lunch, she loved it, the food was great (as always) and she plans to return with her boyfriend for a dinner next time.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, romantic, great for lunch, scenic view
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • A truly excellent restaurant.
    PommeDeBear
    Dined on 5/18/2014
    I am failing to think of a restaurant I like more than Laili. When family visits they demand to eat there. we love the truly exceptional food, great service, and exquisite ambience. Try the mashawa soup and filet mignon kebab, two of my favorites!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, romantic, special occasion, great for lunch, neighborhood gem, hot spot, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great food and service, great find
    Gabyhappy
    Dined on 5/18/2014
    I wanted something different. This restaurant is worth all stars. It is not your classical afghan restaurant. It has great ambiance, a nice garden. My fave was the mediterrenean platter out of this world:-)
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, kid-friendly, fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, romantic, special occasion, great for lunch, late-night find, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Add a new cuisine to your list!
    DVdines
    Dined on 5/17/2014
    Laili's serves up a wonderful alternative menu consisting of Afghan cuisine...many vegetarian dishes among them. We had the butternut squash appetizer (kadoo boranee)...a very nice start. For our entrees we had the apricot chicken flatbread (with medjool dates, parmesan, pomegranate & mint) and the lamb kebob with rice. Everything was terrific...a nice wine list to boot. Service was excellent and the outdoor patio was wonderful (heaters if it is cool). Have the pistachio cardamon ice cream if you have room...it is packed full of nuts!
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • No patio seating for open table
    OpenTable Diner Since 2011
    Dined on 5/17/2014
    I was very disappointed to arrive for my reservation at this restaurant to find that my request for patio seating was not honored when I reserved through open table. They told me if I had called and requested Patio seating, my request would have been honored. The excuse had something to do with the hostess arriving at 4 and not seeing open table until then? If this is accurate then open table should state on the web that you must call for patio seating. This experience was very disappointing.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • great food, good prices
    dsfnsfVIP
    Dined on 5/16/2014
    We keep returning to this wonderful restaurant, sometimes just as a couple and sometimes with groups of friends. The food has been consistently wonderful, no matter what we order...interesting tastes and flavors, marvelous new dishes, oversize portions. You'll want to taste many dishes, so this is a perfect restaurant to share dishes around the table. Service is also good....pleasant, ready when you are, but not intrusive or rushing you. We would definitely recommend this restaurant to others.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, special occasion, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • good food and good service
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 5/15/2014
    One of the best restaurants in the city of Santa Cruz. I appreciate that they will seat guests in a group as they arrive, rather than waiting until everyone in the group arrives. The only drawback to this venue is the noise level, which makes conversation difficult.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Amazing!
    Tosh
    Dined on 5/13/2014
    I get the arugula with pesto and chicken every time I go. It's consistently delicious every time and always filling. The naan is soooooooo good as well, I usually get two plates since it's free (like chips and salsa at Mexican restraints). Highly recommend this place!
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, romantic, special occasion, great for lunch, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Delicious & enjoyable
    Skyotedancer
    Dined on 5/13/2014
    We have been to Laili several times, and we've enjoyed our experience every time.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Delightful lunch oasis
    ramblingroses
    Dined on 5/13/2014
    I took my sister to lunch at Laili for her 72nd birthday. We enjoyed a large complimentary naan with garlic sauce, split a large salad (arugula, fennel, strawberries, with pomegranate vinaigrette) and also split the special of the day - a seafood pasta with fennel. It was a hot day, so we cooled off with ginger-mint-basil sodas. The food was very good; the waiter (Mark) was friendly and attentive without being obtrusive. Best of all was the superb garden setting.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, romantic, special occasion, great for lunch, scenic view, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate