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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 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
  • "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
  • "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
  • "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
  • "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
  • "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."
    Dined on 6/4/2014
  • "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
  • "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 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
  • "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
  • "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
  • "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
  • "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."
    Dined on 6/15/2014
  • "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
  • "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)."
    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."
    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."
    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."
    Dined on 6/15/2014
  • "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."
    Dined on 6/14/2014
  • "Wonderful dinner! Only reason for 4/5 stars was my lamb kabobs were slightly overlooked."
    Dined on 6/13/2014
  • "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"
    Dined on 6/10/2014
  • "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."
    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."
    Dined on 6/7/2014
  • "Loved the trout. My friends best meal in Santa Cruz"
    Dined on 6/6/2014
  • "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."
    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."
    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!"
    Dined on 6/7/2014
  • "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. "
    Dined on 6/6/2014
  • "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.) "
    Dined on 6/5/2014
  • "Hate to have to ask for bread constantly, service was very slow, loud, rushing us once served..."
    Dined on 6/5/2014
  • "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. "
    Dined on 6/3/2014
  • "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."
    Dined on 5/31/2014
  • "This place is amazing. A gem in the middle of town. I will be going back soon for lunch with a friend. "
    Dined on 5/28/2014