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  • Laili

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Laili Details

  • Dining Style: Casual Elegant
  • Website: http://www.lailirestaurant.com
  • Email: info@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
  • "I picked Laili as a spot to have dinner during a trip we planned for my boyfriend's birthday. The food was really amazing and the specials were delicious! We enjoy the lamb kabob and the garlic trout. Both were flavorful and still not forgotten. The servers were very friendly and they checked on our meal often. I would go back for any occasion and will tell any friend they have to enjoy a meal there."
    Dined on 4/11/2014
  • "I recently visited this restaurant for the first time and had a very enjoyable experience. The dipping sauce that comes with the crispy Nan was so refreshing. I loved the 3-bean and lamb soup. It was so hearty and full of flavor. The lamb kabob entree was the perfect size for lunch. I will definitely be back."
    Dined on 4/12/2014
  • "Great food, lots of options for vegans. Every dish was delicious, especially the Bolani. I will definitely be going here a lot more."
    Dined on 4/12/2014
  • "A large group of us visited Santa Cruz to participate in the Half Marathon. A friend who grew up in SC recommended this place--and it was perfect! We were able to get a reservation for a large group, there were plenty of delicious choices for many different palates, the recommendations from staff were right on, and we were provided plenty of water to hydrate before the big event! Would definitely recommend to anyone. Downtown SC is a great spot to eat, shop and hang!"
    Dined on 4/12/2014
  • "Our business having concluded early we came to the restaurant an hour ahead of the reservation. Even though the place was very busy, we were greeted warmly and attentively. We took a drink at the bar and were given a table a short time later. We ordered appetizers deferring the rest of the order. We over-ordered and thus lingered over the appetizers for quite some time, lubricating them with glasses of red wine. At no point were we urged to get on with the rest of our meal, making for a very satisfying convivial experience. The food was delicious and deserved being savored slowly. After more than an hour we ordered the main courses; they were delivered promptly with the restaurant have thinned out. The dishes were well presented."
    Dined on 4/10/2014
  • "We have had small intimate dinners as well as large family gatherings at Laili and all have been equally enjoyable."
    Dined on 4/9/2014
  • "We started with the delicious French press coffee with a touch of cardamon -- wonderful. There were plenty of vegetarian and vegan options in addition to many non-veg items. The lunch combo (a Bolani, big bowl of bean soup, and a starter-size salad) was delicious and a great value at $13. The Bolani was served with really yummy sauces. I especially enjoyed the tangy vegan "pesto" sauce which had a spicy kick. The apricot "chutney" was too sweet to accompany the Bolani for me but was wonderful with the complimentary flat bread. I will definitely return!"
    Dined on 4/6/2014
  • "A wonderful lunch. The Trout dish was done perfectly with two accompanying light but full of flavor sauces. It is served with basmati rice and tomato salad. The eggplant with pomegranate always a favorite."
    Dined on 4/5/2014
  • "When we first arrived we asked to be seated outside. After being seated, we realized that at the table next to us there was a woman who was speaking very loudly. I realized that her volume would interfere with our intended quiet somewhat romantic dinner. So I asked our waitress if we could be moved to a table a little farther away. Since Laili's is a very popular restaurant and is usually booked up, I didn't know if this was possible. But the waitress checked with the scheduling person and was able to fulfill our request - which we were very grateful for! Our dinners were delicious. I had the chicken kabob on saffron rice. My husband had a cauliflower-chickpea dish. Our waitress was more than gracious. We'll be back!"
    Dined on 4/5/2014
  • "Unusual Mediterranean dining with great food, esp the pumpkin yogurt and nan bread appetizer. The fresh nan bread is delicious."
    Dined on 4/4/2014
  • "Been here several times and always enjoyed the food. It is different and nicely done. This time the service was not good at all. Waited 10 mins before anyone recognized we were there, another 10 before we were seated (waiting for them to set our table?) then were seated at a table that had been set all the time. Asked for their driest white wine. She provided a sample. Was not even close. Maybe a coincident is was one of the most expensive, maybe just does not know the wines. Had a decent sauvignon blanc after that. I think the issue may have been short staff."
    Dined on 4/2/2014
  • "Very flavorful food, good presentation and nice ambience of the restaurant. Unlike most restaurants that use a lot of salt to enhance the flavor, this place keeps the salt in check and probably uses reductions and herbs to obtain a nice balance of flavor. I would rank it among one of the best restaurants in the Santa Cruz area. Will definitely make this one of our favorites"
    Dined on 3/30/2014
  • "Laili's hidden patio in downtown Santa Cruz coupled with the rest of the elements that make for a memorable dining experience, never disappoint. I've had my 65th Birthday Luncheon there, my out of town family there and been there just for lunch with a friend. I cannot comment on dinner. I've never been there for dinner nor do I have any comment about the wine/beer list because I don't imbibe. My guests this past Sunday enjoyed their selections, however. The wait staff have ALWAYS been accommodating and gracious ALWAYS. Long live Laili and that amazing patio."
    Dined on 3/16/2014
  • "We really loved the food. The service was professional yet friendly. We had a very nice time!"
    Dined on 3/15/2014
  • "Just love this place, especially sampler appetizer and the non alcoholic mint cocktail."
    Dined on 2/21/2014
  • "The appetizers are a must. Different and delicious."
    Dined on 3/13/2014
  • "I had often walked by Laili and always thought that I ought to check it out sometime. Once I started looking for a nice restaurant in Santa Cruz to celebrate my birthday with my mom, who came from out of town to visit, I stumbled upon Laili's website and started browsing thru their menu. I was hooked shortly thereafter. Their options seemed so original, yet very yummy. And we weren't let down once we got there. The staff was very friendly, the outside patio was lovely, and the food! It was unlike anything I had ever had before. And mind you, I've traveled quite a bit around the globe! Their vegetarian options were phenomenal. Their desserts were quite splendid as well. Highly recommend!"
    Dined on 3/11/2014
  • "Being of Middle Eastern descent, the food speaks to me but Laili's flavors and combinations are so perfectly nuanced, balanced and plated that even that which was familiar was a wonderful new culinary delight. The outdoor garden section with it's high plant covered walls, lovely patio floor, lush plants is a special treat. Inside, the decor is dramatic but peaceful letting the food and service, which is excellent, be the stars. Wonderful dining experience. Never disappoints."
    Dined on 3/13/2014
  • "The ambiance was amazing! The service incredible! The food, to die for! This was my first visit and I know it won't be my last. I had a romantic early dinner with my boyfriend (who is no foodie) and it couldn't have been more perfect. We were seated on the patio in a secluded area, we were served right away and never felt forgotten. The food was awesome and my boyfriend absolutely loved it! (he ordered the trout and nothing was left on his plate). Not one complaint. We have added this to our list of favorite restaurants and hope to return soon to try many of the different dishes!"
    Dined on 3/11/2014
  • "I love Laili. The ambience is exotic and feels intimate, even though the main room is large. The food is fresh, delicious and beautifully presented. Dining outside reminds me of being in Italy or Greece, so secluded and cozy. And the prices are very reasonable. The experience of dining there is special, like a world apart."
    Dined on 3/7/2014
  • "My sister and I met for lunch Friday, March 7th. The out door patio was great, the service attentive, but the food came out slowly and the chicken was WAY over cooked. Thanks for asking!"
    Dined on 3/7/2014
  • "Food is generally awesome. especially the entrees . But last night the food was not as good as expected. kind of disappointed. But the Appetizers were very good. Out of 15 times i went to Lail's this is the first time the food seemed to be ok. Rest i14 times food was really great."
    Dined on 2/28/2014
  • "Delicious food, outstanding service. Unfortunately, ambiance was ruined by NOISE that made conversation for our rainy night indoor table for 4 almost impossible. Huge need to soften the acoustics. Earlier visit, eating in the patio was a delightful experience that I would gladly repeat."
    Dined on 2/28/2014
  • "I have eaten at Laili five times in the last year and it is CONSISTENTLY delicious time after time and across the board with all different dishes. My favorite restaurant, to be sure."
    Dined on 3/1/2014
  • "Saturday night 5 PM booking, only spot open. Booth seating with elderly mother who doesn't hear well. It was fine for us all to talk. Cuisine and service were excellent, so nice to well attended to but without too much fuss."
    Dined on 3/1/2014
  • "The food was amazing! The creme brûlée was a little burnt but still tasted good. The anar chicken was amazing. The overall service was good. The servers and hostess were really nice. The place was small and cute. It was a little noisy. I would go again."
    Dined on 2/28/2014
  • "What a lovely spot. It's out of the way but just off the beaten path - quite a surprise and easy to get to. We sat outside and took in the view of the ocean up on the hillside. The menu was simple but interesting - unique flatbread pizzas and salads along with burgers and more sophisticated entrees - perfect for my daughter and her boyfriend as well as my husband and I who are accustom to more complex fare. The only downside was that they were also hosting a very large convention and it was happy hour, so we were subject to loud conversation and smokers (can't believe they allowed smoking out there!) but they were kind enough to offer to comp us dessert which was delicious and more than made up for the hassle. We will go there again!"
    Dined on 2/23/2014
  • "I have written soooo many reviews for this place, it's getting embarrassing. Liali continues to be such a solid, tasty, WONDERFUL, interesting, classy (especially for Santa Cruz) and I am just sooo grateful!! I can bring out-of -towners and never be disappointed (except when we can't get a rez). The wine list has our favorite, hard to find, Cima Colina pinot (generous pour!!) and the cilantro/jalapeno chutney makes me happy. ALWAYS start with Kadoo...have them toast up your naan a little extra..Lunch is a Lamb Burger...eat half and have another great lunch or midnight munch...skip the cheese and add the chutney...call me the next day and I'll come over to help you polish it off!"
    Dined on 2/25/2014
  • "Laili was unexpected perfection in an area full of great food opportunities. Server was knowledgeable, fun yet professional. Special requests were no problem and even welcome. We had a group dinner celebrating a birthday. Best choice without exception. Food was made with love and each dish was explained in detail and tasted exquisite. ok, I'll stop now. But please try this great place in surf city."
    Dined on 2/21/2014
  • "We had a reservation three weeks in advance, and still got put next to the main bus table instead of a more out of the way area, which OpenTable doesn't provide a link to ask for... They said we had to call in to get 'special' requests, which removes the desire to use the Online reservations. Food was ok. The Flatbread was good."
    Dined on 2/22/2014
  • "Laili did not disappoint! Was able to get seating on the outside patio and enjoy the outdoor weather. Order the chicken flatbread (pizza) and hubby had the lamb burger( juicy). They have a good wine list, but we had just finished an entire bottle prior to walking into Laili, bottle next time. Every dish that came out look amazing. Can't wait to return.... and sample other items."
    Dined on 2/22/2014
  • "My dining companion and I enjoyed the lunchtime wraps. She had the saffron chicken wrap, which she loved. I had the lamb wrap, which was scrumptious. Both came with a lovely arugula salad on the side. We'd both definitely eat those again. The food is always good, so you can't go wrong at Laili!"
    Dined on 2/21/2014
  • "We have previously thoroughly enjoyed our experience dinning here, however, this time the front desk staff was disorganized and discourteous. We made reservations and asked to be seated at a regular table, he tried to place us at a booth even though the restaurant was empty because "all the tables are booked", then he told us we could not sit outside because they were not sitting anyone outside, but then proceeded to sit three couples outside who showed up without a reservation. Ultimately I asked to be seated outside and after briefly telling me that it was not possible, he took us outside. The rest of our dinner experience was phenomenal. The food was delicious, the wait staff was courteous, and the ambiance was perfect."
    Dined on 2/21/2014
  • "Good food, good service, nice ambiance... We will certainly return!"
    Dined on 2/21/2014
  • "We had a really wonderful evening at Laili. I heartily recommend ordering as many appetizers as you can, they are all delicious and could be a meal in itself! The entrees are quite large and definitely tasty. Consider ordering a few appetizers and sharing an entree. Only negative: skip the baklava on the dessert menu - probably one of the worst baklavas I've ever had. Gummy and undercooked. No honey flavor and the puff pastry tasted like soap. But don't let that bring you down, the rest of the evening was perfect! The server was very warm and professional and the outdoor seating area was divine. Can't wait for our next visit."
    Dined on 2/21/2014
  • "The food was exquisite, the service could not be any better, and the ambience was incredibly romantic. Everyone was very kind and helpful in explaining the dishes as well as clearing the plates and refilling the waters on time. We had an amazing Valentine's day dinner that was very romantic and left us not too full but also not unsatisfied. The plates are good for sharing and taste delicious. Prices are also quite reasonable for the portions and the quality. We had the mediterranean plate, a pot of fresh mint tea, the lamb kabob, the filet minion kabob, and finished off with an amazing baklava and pistachio ice cream for dessert. I would highly recommend this restaurant to anyone, especially those looking for a romantic or fun evening."
    Dined on 2/14/2014
  • "I would reccomend Laili to anyone who would like a romantic fun filled evening out. Great service, great food, great wine."
    Dined on 2/14/2014
  • "Still my favorite for a downtown dinner and we are soooo looking forward to lunch in the patio!! Don't miss this place!!"
    Dined on 2/11/2014
  • "Very nice what I would describe as Afghan/California cuisine excellently cooked and served expertly. This is a delightful neighborhood gem in downtown Santa Cruz. Definitely a place to go when you want a change of pace."
    Dined on 2/9/2014
  • "Food was great BUT veggies were a little too oily!"
    Dined on 2/8/2014