Laili

4.5
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2207 Reviews
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$30 and under
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Mediterranean

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About

We are no longer taking reservations through OpenTable. Please go to our website lailirestaurant.com or call us at (831) 423-4545 to make a reservation.

Rich Mediterranean Flavors with a Unique Afghan Twist in the Heart of Downtown Santa Cruz.

Laili is our expression of love through food and service. We offer a unique menu made up of fusion Afghani Mediterranean items that include kabobs, wraps, flatbreads, pastas, and spiced lamb and chicken dishes as well as delicious vegetarian options.
Dining Style
Casual Elegant
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Cuisines
Mediterranean, Afghan
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Hours of operation
Lunch
Tue–Sun 11:30 am–2:30 pm
Dinner
Tue–Thu, Sun 5:00 pm–9:00 pm
Fri, Sat 5:00 pm–10:00 pm
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Phone number
(831) 423-4545
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Payment options
AMEX, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
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Dress code
Casual Dress
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Neighborhood
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Cross street
Pacific Avenue
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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.
Additional
Banquet, Bar/Lounge, BYO Wine, Corkage Fee, Counter Seating, Non-Smoking, Outdoor dining, Wheelchair Access, Wine
What 2207 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.5based on recent ratings
4.6
food
4.3
service
4.4
ambience
4.3
value
Noise · Moderate
94% of people would recommend it to a friend
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RC
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined 3 days ago
Overall5food5service4ambience4

I had Salmon Pasta. Not easy to hit a dish like this out of the park, but they did. On a dinner visit about two weeks ago, I had a salmon filet that was just one step past perfection, loved it.

B
San Francisco
1 review
Dined 6 days ago
Overall3food4service2ambience3

I would but I would let them know the service is very slow and not all staff was friendly

JT
Sacramento
1 review
Dined on January 5, 2020
Overall5food4service4ambience5

Overall we had a wonderful dinner and look forward to eating here again. The Mediterranean appetizer and eggplant flatbread were excellent. The cauliflower entree or baklava desert was just okay. Since I’m vegetarian, I would appreciate more entree options.

OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on January 3, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Always excellent food. Service was prompt, friendly and attentive.

p
San Francisco
17 reviews
Dined on January 1, 2020
Overall4food5service4ambience5

Always delicious. The menu is a bit limited if you don't eat meat but I've never had a bad experience at Laili.

JB
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on December 31, 2019
Overall3food5service3ambience5

My husband and I took two of our friends here for New Years Eve dinner. I looked for reservations about a week before, and the only reservation available was 8:45pm, so we took it.
On New Years Eve, we showed up at 8:45pm. No tables were ready, so we had to wait while they got a table ready, which was fine. Then we were seated. After about 6-7 minutes we were brought some water. The waitress then showed up and asked us if we were aware that the kitchen was going to stop taking orders at 9:00pm. We were all kind of shocked and let her know that we were not aware of that. She was very nice, but obviously rushed to take our order. When we asked her what time it was, she told us it was 9:02pm, but that she would get our orders in. My husband and I eat here regularly, so choosing something quickly was not a problem. Our friends, however, were not familiar with the menu and in general just take longer making these types of decisions. Being rushed on top of it all did not help matters. They ended up just getting what my husband and I ordered since we all felt panicked to get our orders in.
We also ordered 2 appetizers. The soup came before the meal, but the bolinis came after our meals were served. In a rush to clear our table, our waitress also took off with my wine glass, that still had wine left in it. I was able to stop her before she got too far, so that I could finish my wine.

I just don’t understand why I was able to make an 8:45pm reservation here when their kitchen closed at 9pm? It was not a relaxing meal, we felt stressed and rushed throughout. I would have gladly gone elsewhere than feel like the waitstaff were just waiting for us to leave. Our waitress was lovely, but put in a very awkward situation.

OT
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on December 31, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Food & Service were great!

M
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on December 31, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience4

Ask for table 11...best. Service terrific, food always good as advertised. ENJOY!

OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on December 31, 2019
Overall4food5service2ambience4

Food was excellent as usual - great flavors - and the setting on the patio was wonderful. The only complaint is the receptionist was off-hand, saying that she could ask the Manager but normally they don’t turn heaters on outside at lunchtime. Odd, since our waiter greeted us and immediately turned on two heaters. Maybe the receptionist was having a bad day? Rest of the service was good and the patio is beautiful and quiet.

N
San Francisco
38 reviews
Dined on December 29, 2019
Overall5food5service4ambience4

Lamb kabob is the best around. The trout is without parallel.

f
San Francisco
79 reviews
Dined on December 29, 2019
Overall2food4service1ambience4

This is one of my favorite places to go to when I come to whEn in Santa Cruz. This time I don’t know what happened. We arrived on time, got seated right away. Our waiter seemed not really with it. He took our order. We usually order several things and share. We ordered two appetizers , one salad, one flat bread, and two entrees. We waited for our food but nothing came. We were seated right in front of our kitchen I could see our food and everyone else’s as well. Then all of a sudden every single item we ordered arrived at once. We had a small table and could barely put all the plates on it. Usually they bring one or two items at a time so we can enjoy our food while it was hot. Not this time. It was cold when we got it, I told the waiter and he said whoops my bad, can I bring you something else for free. Trust me I didn’t need anything else for free. We ate our food it tasted good, but would have been better hot. I don’t think they had enough staff. Our waiter really was not professional. Like I said I really like this place but they really need help. Not sure if I want to risk another visit just yet.

OT
Los Angeles
3 reviews
Dined on December 27, 2019
Overall2food2service5ambience2

Food was poor and unmemorable. Waiter tried hard to keep us satisfied but food very average at best. The salad dressing was inedible. Not a place to revisit.

T
1 review
Dined on December 27, 2019
Overall3food3service1ambience1

Very disappointing! We have been to Laili many times over the years we have lived in Santa Cruz and often recommended it to friends and folks from out of town. The other evening it was so loud it was impossible to have a conversation The kitchen staff seemed intent on making as much noise as possible. Service was slow and unattentive. Unusual in our experience. The food was average. We sat for quite sometime before our server came to our table. He offered water, but no bread. We had to ask for bread when our appetizers arrived. We rarely saw our server and the meals were delivered by other servers. My husband ordered soup and it arrived to the table lukewarm, as did the flatbread we ordered to share. The two other meals did arrive hot and were enjoyed by all. Unfortunately, our server would not know this. After we finished our meal we waited over 15 minutes for someone to come by. In the end, we had to flag someone down. The one individual who was professional and attentive was the host.

f
San Francisco
10 reviews
Dined on December 27, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

great meal as always and a terrific waiter!! I would recommend it to anyone for the tasty food--super service and a nice place to eat out-------------

DB
1 review
Dined on December 27, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

I went for lunch with 2 friends from out-of-town and it was a great experience overall. We had a selection of appetizers and each of us had a main dish. All 3 of us loved the food, and the service was attentive and friendly. Overall, a very memorable meal. Highly recommended!

OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on December 26, 2019
Overall1food1service1ambience4

Service was bad - we hadn’t even finished our starters and the server brought our mains. Server was least interested in her job.
Food was bad (even their bread was served cold when normally it is served warm). Greek salad was basically the Caesar Salad with feta cheese on top - pathetic - had to leave majority of it.
Pasta: watery goo that was not fit for consumption.
Went home hungry and cooked up a meal late at night - way better than anything these fellows served.

Overall very disappointed - this will be my last visit (been there multiple times before)

Looks like they have lost their good chefs and managers.

LB
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on December 26, 2019
Overall4food4service3ambience3

Interesting dishes that pack a good flavor punch. Service is sincere but a bit amateurish. I don’t expect a restaurant at this level to bring you your check before you have finished your dessert. But, alas, it happened. Also the table was sticky. Perhaps a good scrubbing would help.

SG
Los Angeles
3 reviews
Dined on December 26, 2019
Overall5food4service5ambience5

Great service and ambiance at this restaurant. Knowledgable staff that gave great recommendations. Presentation of food was nice. However, the dishes I ordered lacked the Mediterranean flavors that I was expecting. Had the special soup of carrot & ginger puree with yogurt sauce. Entree was a lamb pasta. Wine suggested by our waitress paired very well with our selections.

Was a decent value for the money.

AF
1 review
Dined on December 22, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

We had a wonderful meal and were so grateful when they made room for us to come in about an hour early. One of my favorites in Santa Cruz!

DV
1 review
Dined on December 21, 2019
Overall3food5service4ambience3

Excellent food and service. Made on line reservations for a quiet table for our anniversary. Was given a booth by the door with a winter draft at my back. ( a simple class partition could fix this issue) The dinner was nice but the effect was spoiled by the worn wooden table tops that were sticky. I felt that I could not let my tableware touch the surface and use it again. The surface was such that you could not slide a wine class to your partner to taste and you certainly did not want to rest you hand on it.

MT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on December 20, 2019
Overall3food3service3ambience5

We go here a lot for special occasions but the last two food experiences have been very underwhelming. We got the butternut squash soup special and it was just very bland, we could have made a tastier soup at home. And the lamb burger was too salty with a pile of wilted lettuce salad next to it for $18. The waiter forgot one of our appetizers and the other was the wrong flat bread. One bread was comped which was nice, but the waiter seems annoyed with us and seldom came by. I would still recommend this place, but I think it’s time to find another go to for those special occasions.

HB
San Francisco
4 reviews
Dined on December 20, 2019
Overall4food5service4ambience4

Food was EXCELLENT! Ambiance, noice -level was loud even in when sitting by windows in side-back. Service was good when came but a bit slow for receiving paycheck & final transactions..Overall very good and I'll be back...

JM
Palm Springs
3 reviews
Dined on December 18, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Never had a bad meal here. Outstanding atmosphere, good service, great Boad.

SK
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on December 17, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Love almost everything about this restaurant. Sometimes they are slow to seat customers, even with reservations. They don't seem to have enough staff that can get to clearing tables and have them reset quickly.

g
San Francisco
31 reviews
Dined on December 17, 2019
Overall4food4service5ambience4

The mediterranean menu at Laili is dependably delicious. Their pomegranate glaze is wonderful on chicken and eggplant. The food is presented beautifully. It can be a bit noisy, although we were comfortable in a booth. Our wait person was just the right amount of attentive.

OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on December 13, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Another great experience here. The pomegranate eggplant is my favorite dish.

NL
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on December 10, 2019
Overall4food5service4ambience4

I love their fabulous food! They serve a wonderful Middle-Eastern influenced menu!

J
Adelaide / SA
1 review
Dined on December 8, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience4

One of the best meals I have had in a while. Highly recommend!

GL
San Francisco
7 reviews
Dined on December 5, 2019
Overall4food4service5ambience4

Great selection of food and the service was great. I really like this restaurant and plan to come back often.

l
San Francisco
5 reviews
Dined on December 4, 2019
Overall2food1service4ambience1

Restaurant is dark and cold. The soup I had was warm and filling, as was the winter squash appetizer. EVERYTHING ELSE was either under-cooked or flavorless or both. I loved the fact that they offered sauteed greens, for example, but they seemed hardly cooked and very disappointing. The rice was boring too.

Too bad, because it's a nicely located restaurant and I would like to like it!

JA
1 review
Dined on December 1, 2019
Overall3food4service3ambience3

We dined as a party of 3: I really enjoyed the 3 appetizers we ordered, not so much the 2 flatbreads and lamb pasta we chose as entrees. I have eaten at Laili's twice before and was appetizer-focused: loved the food. Next time, if we go again, I will skip the menu section with flatbreads and passta and select from appetizers, salads, and full-on entrees.

OT
1 review
Dined on November 29, 2019
Overall5food5service4ambience5

The food was very fresh and the recipes were very good. Although the restaurant was under staffed , the staff was very nice and accommodated our big table and the dishes came on time. I highly recommend this restaurant in Santa Cruz.

M
San Francisco
4 reviews
Dined on November 29, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Open Table Reservation recommended. We have been here 1/2 dzn. times and not been disappointed. Quality food and service. Ambiance is terrific.

OT
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on November 23, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Wonderful experience. We love coming here

OT
1 review
Dined on November 23, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Laili was recommended to us. We were celebrating our Anniversary and it was a lovely evening.

HD
San Francisco
21 reviews
Dined on November 22, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Lovely dinner. A bit pricey at $48 for one person with no wine but totally delicious food!

ME
San Francisco
13 reviews
Dined on November 22, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience3

The bean soup is very good (with or without lamb), and the pan grilled trout is excellent. Salads and flatbreads are also excellent.

S
Los Angeles
7 reviews
Dined on November 21, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience3

Food is outstanding!

JP
1 review
Dined on November 21, 2019
Overall4food4service4ambience4

Love the Laili we go on Birthday celebrations and it never fails to amaze!! Thank you for staying consistent.
There's a lot of restaurants in Santa .cruz County we usually try for Laili first...

R
1 review
Dined on November 20, 2019
Overall4food4service3ambience3

We were a group of 10, 5 of which showed up a bit early and were seated at the table. As the rest of our group arrived, none of us were asked if we needed/wanted anything. We sat for 10 minutes or so before anyone took drink/appetizer orders. The room is very large and open so noise travels and it is quite loud. The food was very tasty albeit a bit pricey.