Laili

4.5
1885 reviews
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$30 and under
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Mediterranean
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.
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KM
Central Coast
5 reviews
Dined 2 days ago
Overall 3food 5service 2ambience 4

Our first dining adventure at Laili was mixed. Our group of 4 tried a number of items off the menu from the Apricot Chicken Flatbread and the Lamb Kabob to the Bolani and the trout. All the food was fantastic and there was a nice selections of wines on the wine list as well. The service, however, left much to be desired. Our waiter was friendly enough; however, we're not sure if our waiter was new or just having an off day. In either case, the food was good enough that we are willing give Laili a second chance.

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WG
1 review
Dined 3 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Pleased at every level, ambiance, service and especially the FOOD !

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f
San Francisco
5 reviews
Dined 4 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great restaurant-interesting delicious dishes, gracious staff

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GP
1 review
Dined 4 days ago
Overall 3food 4service 2ambience 2

Good food as always however service was lacking. We were seated at one of the worst tables directly behind the hostess stand. It was way too tight for our party and really took away from the enjoyment of the evening.

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JA
1 review
Dined 4 days ago
Overall 3food 5service 3ambience 5

Ordered French press. Asked for sugar,?forgot! I asked another wait person and received. Some time later she remembered and would have been too late and coffee cold....
Thanks. Other than that she was charming.

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OT
Minneapolis
1 review
Dined 5 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Lovely evening! Celebrated our anniversary with a delicious m

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RE
1 review
Dined 5 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

A wonderful experience, excellent food, well prepared, good ambiance and very special greeting and wait staff. HOORAY!

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1
San Francisco
238 reviews
Dined 5 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

This is the second time we have eaten there.
To quote my friend “it was delightful “

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A
Orange County
11 reviews
Dined 7 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

wonderful restaurant with very high quality food. Food wise, i think this the best among all the Mediterranean food i tried in North California.
Lamb shank and the leek dumpling is a must try.

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HC
San Francisco
64 reviews
Dined on March 12, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Never disappointed at Laili... another outstanding lunch experience.

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G
1 review
Dined on March 10, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 3ambience 4

We made reservations and had a table waiting for us when we arrived. Once seated it was 20 minutes before someone came and took our drink and appetizers order. The drinks and appetizers came quickly and the appetizers where awesome.
Then it was at least 25 30 minutes before the waiter took or dinner order. After about another 25 or 30 minutes our waiter came to ourbrable and said they lost our order. He quickly took our orders down and apologised and said he will get the kitchen going on pur meals. Our meals arrived in 15 minutes after that
The food was awesome. The waiter comped us our drinks and offered dessert on them but we where all to full.
Sometimes this happens at restaurants and I think that our waiter did his best to make it rite. All in all it was a good dining experience and the food was excellent.

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AL
San Francisco
9 reviews
Dined on March 10, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 1ambience 3

We began the evening with drinks. But our waiter took 2 drink orders and disappeared. After about 15 minutes he reappeared to take the drink orders of our other couple. The Mediterranean Plate appetizer was a tasty way to begin our dinner. The Greek salads were initially a a disappointment because they had little or no dressing on them. After waiting 10 minutes for our waiter to return to our table, the Greek salads returned with dressing and were substantially better. The 4 entrees that we ordered, (2) chicken kabobs, beef koubideh and filet mignon kabob were excellent and enjoyed by all the diners. The horrendous service spoiled an otherwise enjoyable dining experience.

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g
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on March 10, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 5

Laili is a family favorite and we go there often. the ambiance and location
are a special draw. People there are very friendly and accommodating.

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G
Los Angeles
2 reviews
Dined on March 9, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Beautiful space with the kitchen on full display. The quality of service, from the host to the food runners was impeccable. The food is delish - make sure to order the mantoo as an appetizer, it’s outstanding and a nice alternative to the bolani which everyone seems to have on their table (it’s good as well!) but the dumplings... yummy!

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OT
San Diego
2 reviews
Dined on March 8, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Very nice service

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AW
Orange County
1 review
Dined on March 8, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Excellent food and service. I enjoyed every minute!

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GP
1 review
Dined on March 5, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 3ambience 4

Everything was great but the waiter mislabeled our leftovers and they went to the wrong homes!

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OT
San Francisco
9 reviews
Dined on March 5, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

Our waitress was fantastic. Food was good but side salad was extremely oversalted. Lamb pasta very rich with a large portion that meant leftovers to take home.

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AB
1 review
Dined on March 2, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Jared is an amazing server. He was very nice and told us about all the specials, Which we ended up ordering. Food is amazing. This is my favorite restaurant in Santa Cruz

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JI
1 review
Dined on March 2, 2019
Overall 3food 2service 3ambience 2

Hello. Was not worth the 150.00 final bill. We eat a lot of food in our home city but will continue to look for good food in what I believe is a very good town. The search continues.

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F
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on March 2, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

This is one of those restaurants that I save for special occasions. It has an elegant, other-worldly feel that is quite different from most of Santa Cruz. I love my town, but when I want an escape to something more exotic and luxurious, I chose Laili.

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OT
1 review
Dined on March 2, 2019
Overall 3food 4service 2ambience 3

Food was good, but it took a long, long time to get our meal.

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Q
San Francisco
151 reviews
Dined on March 1, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 5

Laili is a wonderful place to dine! Great food and service.

Our only reason for a "4" rather than "5" rating is the noise: people were having good time and it was very energetic!!

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CJ
Central Coast
17 reviews
Dined on February 28, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

Great spot in SC for a quiet dinner. LOVE the beet salad and the lamb kebabs are amazing.

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AE
San Francisco
7 reviews
Dined on February 27, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The food is always great and their service staff is on point. They always have a great wine list as well.

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K
San Francisco
49 reviews
Dined on February 26, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Went here on a rainy midweek night. Perfect spot to enjoy our dishes. We decided to split the eggplant flatbread and lamb pasta. Both super! Didn't know about the complimentary warm naan with dipping sauce, but we sure loved that too. A glass of Spanish white, and meal was perfect. Fast & friendly service. Can't wait to have lunch on the patio when weather gets nice.

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SN
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on February 26, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Makes we remember there are still great places to dine out!

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OT
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on February 24, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 3

Check in was terrible. The person checking us in kept seating people who checked in after us. There were plenty of open tables and he spent ages seating the guests. Clearly out of his league. Finally after getting seated experience was very good, food was excellent.

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RO
San Francisco
51 reviews
Dined on February 24, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Excellent

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OT
1 review
Dined on February 23, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 5

There were six of. That’s hard to juggle. We are impressed that all our food came out at the same time; it was hot and delicious. We will return.

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JD
San Diego
2 reviews
Dined on February 22, 2019
Overall 1food 1service 1ambience 1

Genuinely disappointed I chose this place for dinner. Host was absent from their post for 5 minutes after I walked in and ran back from the bathroom in a hurry eventually - they were in and out of the bathroom all night actually :(

Food was . . . Not good. Soup was lukewarm and the entree was just mediocre . Wish I had grabbed a alice of pizza instead. Skip it.

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JM
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on February 22, 2019
Overall 3food 4service 2ambience 5

We had a good experience overall, except the service was slow. The food is great!

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MJ
1 review
Dined on February 21, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great food. Pleasant service. I love this place

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FG
New England
1 review
Dined on February 20, 2019
Overall 2food 2service 2ambience 3

The appetizers were great
The mains were disappointing
We enjoyed a meal there a few nights before and decided to bring our son the second time but we were not as pleased as the first visit
Soup and salads were delicious -

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G
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on February 17, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 3ambience 5

As usual, we enjoyed our visit. First time for my family. Service was very slow and sporadic. Service staff were shorthanded and spreading themselves thin, which affected the service. Food was good for the most part. The chicken Kabobs were a bit dry. However, everything else was fine. This will not deter us from returning. Love the place and the food.

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RF
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on February 16, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 5

Laili was recommended to us, but I don't get what the buzz is all about. There are plenty of good restaurants in Santa Cruz, why is this one so hard to get into? Maybe their reservation policy is to blame. We sat at the bar for over an hour being well entertained by the fast moving activities, but the sight-line is straight into the dish washing area, install a partition...back to the tables: while we sat, multiple tables opened and were setup but not reused. All this while customer$ waited for a table. Maybe their kitchen can't keep up, but I have to believe that tons of revenue are escaping their grasp because of their table policy that prevents them from reusing a table if there's a reservation as much as an hour out. That's just silly. We went elsewhere for dinner.

On our second attempt several days later, we chose to accept the only remaining table for 2 very late in the evening. Since we were running early, we arrived and were lucky to get a spot at the bar again. We asked for an earlier table, and before we finished our first round, we were seated. Sadly, because we retained our waiter from the bar area, he was not on his game where we sat - another bad policy...wait staff has to be operated in zones, so just close-out the first guy and move on. Minus one star on service despite the fact that the people are genuinely engaging. This is a policy hit, not a people hit.

The food was generally excellent, but don't order the 1/2 chicken because it will be overcooked...the white meat was like sawing through low-grade balsa wood, shredding all the way. I would have returned it, but the waiter didn't come back. Besides, my partner's meal was just fine and we were both nearly full from earlier courses, so the sharing took care of the disappointment in the chicken. Minus one star on food.

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E
Central Coast
1 review
Dined on February 16, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 4

Everything was great except the bathrooms were dirty, water on the floor & a garbage bin overflowing with used towels.

Felt like using a gas station quality bathroom not a restaurant.

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MB
Adelaide / SA
1 review
Dined on February 16, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

Our experience was great once we were seated. The servers were attentive and the food beautiful and very tasty. Our initial experience at the door was frustrating. People were crowded in the entry way waiting to speak with the hostess who was busing and setting table. Once we were able to make our way up to speak with her we were asked to wait 20 minutes for our table. They may have been short staffed. I recommend back up busing staff so the hostess can do her job and folks aren't crowded at the door.

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R
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on February 15, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 4

The food is truly excellent--a really tasteful and original combination of Persian and Afghani influences, unlike anything else in our area and very fairly priced given the high quality. The service is attentive--maybe just a bit too much, in fact; we were interrupted every few minutes by waitstaff removing plates and asking how things were. I like that they genuinely care, and it's a lot better than being completely ignored, but they could learn to do things a little less intrusively. There's no reason to swoop in and scoop up every plate the instant a diner finishes something and announce the fact while doing so ("I'll get this out of your way!"). It just makes diners feel like they're being rushed along. Visually, the ambiance is attractive and classy. Sonically, it's like a lot of restaurants these days: loud, clattery and echoey. Not a great place for a quiet conversation. But these minor flaws aside, it's a really fine restaurant and I look forward to going back. Also, I'm glad they re-instituted reservations. For a while, they only allowed reservations for large parties. The rest of us just had to show up and wait, sometimes for an hour or more. It wasn't worth it, and I pretty much gave up on the restaurant during that time.

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p
San Francisco
21 reviews
Dined on February 15, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Our large group of 11 were very happy with the food and the service. Favorite dishes were Anan Chicken and the Pomegranate Eggplant plus the wonderful dessert of meringue with balsamic strawberries. Our server and assistants were great. Serving a group this large is not easy and it was done with patience and grace. Thank you for another pre Jewel Theater dinner experience Laili!!

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