Rich Mediterranean Flavors with a Unique Afghan Twist in the Heart of Downtown Santa Cruz.
Currently taking reservations for dinner only, 7 days a week, from 4pm-8pm.
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.
roasted half chicken with pomegranate sauce, roasted potatoes, mixed vegetables
pan roasted with lemon garlic sauce, saffron basmati rice, salata
lamb tenderloin skewer, kabuli rice, mixed vegetables
When we first entered the restaurant it looked deserted, but that's because all of the patrons and most of the staff are outside in the courtyard! After patiently waiting a few minutes we were greeted by the host and seated quickly. This restaurant is fortunate to have a very spacious courtyard next to their dining room, and that is where they are seating everyone. Don't worry, there are plenty of outdoor heaters to ward off the chill. The service is top-notch, and the food is excellent. I recommend the roasted cauliflower as a side, even if you're not wild about veggies. Or course the lamb is truly the star of the show here. The wine list is also quite good. Bottom line: great food in a very nice setting. Recommended.
Love this patio! Great food & service! Can’t wait to go back!
Excellent as always! Lovely staff, incredible food, the patio is gorgeous. We had a wonderful date and a wonderful evening. Thank you!
Layli's is probably my favorite restaurant on the planet. I love everything about it. The outdoor patio is so lovely, the menu is exquisite. I could eat anything on menu and be super happy.
Absolutely fantastic place. It has now become one of my favorite restaurants. The service was superb, reminded me of what service was like when I went to restaurants with my parents in the sixties! Food was out of this world. Like I said, it’s now one of my favorite restaurants 😄👍
Very disappointed with my recent experience eating at Laili. The quality and consistency has gone down. The meat was overcooked, food was over seasoned and quality of the filet mignon is unacceptable. This is a restaurant that has been mismanaged for a long time but their food used to be good so it was worth making an exception. At their price point, they need to reassess and up their game. I'm very sad to write this because this is my favorite Santa Cruz restaurant. No more!
Beautiful outdoor garden like dining experience. Not too loud for conversation. Excellent food with something for everyone. Lots of vegan/vegetarian and meat options.
I love Laili. I supported the restaurant thru CoVid via “ To Go” orders, and and made sure to get right back for in- person dining. This weekend I was disappointed and embarrassed when I brought a new neighbor in to experience my favorite Santa Cruz restaurant. We had a reservation for 8:15. We arrived early. We were seated on time. After waiting a few minutes our server approached. I always order wine, and a minimum of three appetizers so that my guests might enjoy the ambiance and the delicious hors d’oeuvres while perusing the menu. When I placed our order , we were informed that we would have to get our entree orders In right away because the kitchen was closing at 8:30. Seriously? This was not the experience I was hoping to share with our guest. Our meal was rushed and we were made to feel like we were an inconvenience. I would suggest to other patrons that they check with the establishment ahead of time to see when kitchen closes. Why offer a reservation st 8:15 if you are going to pressure your guests ? At least I was very familiar with the menu since I have dined there several times over the last four years. Still love this place, but I will never make a late reservation again. Let me also mention the fact that I made the reservation two weeks prior to July 3. If the kitchen closing at 8:30 or the time was an issue, I would’ve appreciated the opportunity to adjust the time.
What a beautiful and comfortable outdoor setting! The food was really good and the ambiance was so relaxing.
Tasty food in a relaxing and beautiful patio environment makes for a delightful night out.
Laili is a lovely restaurant, especially the outdoor patio. This was our third or fourth visit on a weekend trip to SC and overall the food, especially the appetizers, was delicious and the service was prompt and professional. When we asked to moved to a different table, they were accommodating. However, one perplexing thing that happened, when my entree pasta dish came -- fettuccine with arugula pesto - it was garnished with arugula that was clearly yellowing and overdue for the compost bin. I can only assume that this was due to a lack of oversight and training of inexperienced staff because this should never happen at a restaurant like Laili. I mentioned it to the wait person and we were given a 25% discount on the dish (I think they should have comped it). I would have sent it back to the kitchen, but I had stepped away when the plate arrived. The rest of the dish was good.
We had a lovely time! It’s always top notch!
Thoughtful, tasty, healthy and well presented cuisine in a lovely mediterranean environment! Thank you - we need you to open other similar dinning experiences in Santa Cruz
Great food, service, value, and ambience. Nice variety of menu offerings.
One of the sweetest places to be in and lovely people. My husband said he would order more appetizers and salad next time for more vegetarian options. The main dishes were more meat oriented. I think I would order another meat dish since the skewered chicken was cooked a bit too tough but tasty. All the food was delicious and satisfying.
Great choice for dinner. Patio makes you feel like you are in Europe.
My first dinner with a friend (my bestie) since the onset of COVID. Perfect way to return to being social.
Food was amazing, as it always has been. Unfortunately, this time the service was mediocre and it was my husband’s birthday, so we were disappointed.
Excellent food. We had all appetizers and a Caesar salad, large portions very well made. And the chocolate mousse for dessert was outstanding. We ate outside in the garden patio and you don't realize your in downtown Santa Cruz.
Lamb shank was not the best. Vegetables were good. Naan wasn’t the soft type as I’d like it to be.
The environment was lovely!
Everything about Laili was delightful except the way the maitre d' attempted to seat us. We were two women, on time for our reservation, and the restaurant was perhaps a third full. Yet he offered us a table next to the door, where everyone arriving later would pass by us. When we said we preferred a table out of the flow, he directed us to a table close to another woman, at a distance of less than six feet from two other tables. Finally he provided an appropriate table with reasonable separation and low activity. After that, everyone was lovely, the food was wonderful, the atmosphere beautiful. But the reality that women are still relegated to the worst tables in a restaurant lives on at Laili.
Delicious dinner as always, excellent friendly, welcoming service, particularly considering the shortage of staff they are experiencing and dining in the beautiful courtyard made it a very memorable dining experience. We love Laili, have eaten there a number of times and will definitely be going back.
The food was unusual and delicious, the setting lovely, and our server outstanding.
The outdoor courtyard is so beautiful! Food is somewhat different than Afghan I've had elsewhere, but very good. Service was good too.
The busier was doing more than the servers. Clearing waters resetting taking bus trays out running food? Train your busiers they seem to have their heads up amd aware of their tables. Servers heads down and made more money? Just a thought from someone in the business.
We loved the outdoor patio. From soup to dessert everything was delicious!
Comfortable venue and great food, as always!
Perfect dining experience every time. Whether outdoor on the garden patio or indoors in an elegant setting, Laili never disappoints! Going out to eat with a food allergy is difficult, but Laili will take care of you, with the servers well informed on the menu item's ingredients. Delicious food, great service, idyllic atmosphere.
Patio always lovely. Service and food were great.
Wonderful dinner in a beautiful outdoor dining area. Very attentive staff.
The food was amazing and we were seated in this outside area with high walls covered in vines/flowers. The server helped us with the burner adjusting it so we weren’t cold. She was great.
Patio dining was very tranquil. Food was great as always.
Laili's delicious menu, attentive service and magical patio dining are the best I've experienced since the pandemic.
Amazing food !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The food was tasty and delicate in flavor. NOT bold if that is the expectation. The service and amiance are great. There was LOUD music from across the street that came in but the dinner was still very nice.
If you are in SC and with someone that wants a quiet spot to sit and chat...this is a perfect romantic spot. Make sure you have a reservation to the outdoor patio.
The beet salad was the winner for me and the house made pastas were right behind.
Worth while spot especially if you are in SC. Cheers!
I sent my son and his girlfriend there for a birthday dinner and they loved it! Said their food was amazing and the service was great. My son had the chicken and baklava for dessert. Said everything was delicious.
The manager Saul also took extra special care of them since it was a birthday and I was paying from out of town.
This is our fav restaurant in Santa Cruz. We love the beet salad and kabobs that come with yummy dipping sauce. Our waiter did a great job and we sat outside in the beautiful garden. Will come back for sure!
You can order delivery directly from Laili using the Order Online button. Laili also offers delivery in partnership with Uber Eats. Laili also offers takeout which you can order by calling the restaurant at (831) 423-4545.
Laili is rated 4.7 stars by 2468 OpenTable diners.
Yes, you can generally book this restaurant by choosing the date, time and party size on OpenTable. Due to local restrictions, this restaurant may not be accepting reservations at the moment.