Laili

4.6
1994 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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SN
1 review
Dined 2 days ago
Overall 2food 4service 1ambience 4

This is a lovely place for lunch. However, the service was terrible. Two people in our party did not get their food until the rest of the party was finished eating because the server did not place the orders. The owner did comp those meals which we really appreciated, however it was very disappointing that 2 people could not enjoy the moment, and eat with the group. Will think twice about returning for a while.

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DD
San Francisco
1 review
Dined 4 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 5

Having “emigrated” from Berkeley and the East Bay where we were spoiled with many great restaurants in the central Bay, we were disappointed to find so few outstanding choices in Santa Cruz. However, Laili is an exception...by far our favorite SC restaurant. Food, presentation, ambiance, service...all exceptional or very good. We prefer the courtyard seating, as the dining room is too noisy...

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

I liked the attentive waiters and delicious food!!! The homemade pasta with the arugula pesto was excellent. I loved sitting outside with the beautiful plant life. The chocolate mousse was especially delicious. We liked all of the waiters and Caesar was especially attentive and helpful.

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

What a hidden gem. I have been to Santa Cruz numerous times and never knew about Laili. We decided to try it for Father’s Day this year. From the minute we walked in, everything was so pleasant. Handsome, modern decor with a middle eastern feel. Interesting menu option. They call it “Mediterranean Afghan fusion” and it feels sort of Moroccan to me. The waiter was very helpful in making recommendations and the food is very vegetarian friendly. Everything was delicious—sweet and savory—and just melts in your mouth. And and even though the plates weren’t huge, we were all quite full. There’s a beautiful patio in the back and we took some photos there. Really great experience all around!

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DD
San Francisco
37 reviews
Dined 5 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Always the freshest, with innovative combinations. Then, arranged like visual art on the plate. Everyone delivers the best service, best craft. There’s pride of ownership. The Django music and art takes me to memorable times of fine dining in other countries, casual bistro style. A favorite for 6 (?) years.

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WH
1 review
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Terrific outdoor area. Very attentive waitstaff, and a really wonderful meal.

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JM
1 review
Dined 7 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Excellent food and customer service. I highly recommend Laili. Sit outside in the patio. Make reservations ahead of time

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j
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on June 11, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 4

Laili is usually great with fantastic food and service. It was just a little less than we normally enjoy there. We’ll keep coming because they are usually great and figure this was an anomaly.

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JL
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on June 11, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Food and service was wonderful .
We sat outside which is very pleasant

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PZ
1 review
Dined on June 9, 2019
Overall 2food 4service 1ambience 2

The hostess was rude and quite obnoxious. I had a reservation through OpenTable requesting an outdoor table. She told me she only seats customers that had called directly to her and did not recognize OpenTable as a valid reservation system.

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OT
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on June 8, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 1ambience 2

I had a reservation for 5 people. Most food was good but my stake was tough.
The real problem was the restaurant got very hot as the evening went on. Then the staff stopped bringing water. We decided to leave instead of having dessert.

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C
San Francisco
4 reviews
Dined on June 8, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 2ambience 5

Loved the ambiance, had never been there, food was better than most but not outstanding. My lamb kabob was lean & tender, and excellent and the rice pilaf was very tasty. It is so rare to receive attentive service in SC and service was not very attentive. We waited way too long to receive our drink order.

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M
1 review
Dined on June 8, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 3

Excellent! One tip: if you want to sit outside in the garden area you should put that preference in your reservation request.

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OT
Baltimore
12 reviews
Dined on June 8, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 3ambience 5

The food was absolutely delicious. We had the butternut squash appetizer, which is my favorite Afghani dish and which they cooked to perfection.

I had the filet mignon kebab as my main, which was cooked perfectly and the sauces were amazing. My wife and daughter also raves about their food.

Service was fine once our waiter got to us. (We waited quite a while at the table initially.) The location is beautiful.

I highly recommend eating here.

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OT
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on June 7, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

It was perfect!

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JA
San Francisco
7 reviews
Dined on June 7, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We went for lunch after a graduation. The place was packed. Even though it was packed, we had excellent service our food was fabulous it all came out together and not piecemeal. Our wait staff was very respectful and prompt.

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GI
1 review
Dined on June 6, 2019
Overall 2food 2service 2ambience 3

Slow service, mediocre and overpriced food. Unfortunately few good choices in Santa Cruz.

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OT
1 review
Dined on June 2, 2019
Overall 3food 5service 3ambience 3

We went to Laili's to celebrate my son's birthday. As soon as we arrived at the scheduled time for our reservation we were told the kitchen was closing and were rushed into ordering. The waiter was distracted and not very helpful. His assistant was pleasant but not knowledgeable. The food was fabulous and my son was very happy with his meal. It's pretty pricey... more of a $$$ than a $$.

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G
1 review
Dined on June 1, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 4

The outdoor patio is so nice at Laili. The food wasn't as amazing as I remember. I had the seasonal strawberry salad and it felt like the portion was too big and it wasn't balanced with dressing and toppings - it was mostly a spinach salad. The caesar salad my date had was very good. The servers were all very attentive and kind. It was just that seasonal salad that didn't seem to be the standard of quality for the restaurant. It would be great if they did more seasonal food and mixed the menu up now and again.

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VA
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on June 1, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The food is always fresh and delicious. Nice option for both vegetarians and omnivores, and if you're fromo out of town it's a great local spot with a beautiful ambiance.

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s
San Francisco
16 reviews
Dined on May 31, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

Delicious complimentary naan served with herb dip. I chose the lamb burger, and I asked for more aioli. My friend a chicken salad. We both had the muddled citrus soda which was so refreshing.

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CF
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on May 31, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 3

My friend really enjoyed the lamb shank he had for dinner. I'd hoped to order the same thing, but have some odd allergies and couldn't. Still, the trout I had was good. And we both enjoyed the pomegranate sauce on the ice cream we had for dessert. A little more sauce would have been nice, but it was tasty.

The nicest thing was that the waiter, after finding that I couldn't eat what I'd hoped to order, asked the kitchen what they could prepare that I'd be able to eat. I've had some waiters do that without me asking, but not many. The rest of the service was equally attentive.

Though they had sound baffles on the high ceiling, it was still a bit loud. We were seated immediately when we arrived with a reservation through OpenTable.

The dishes were not inexpensive, but not unusually expensive for Santa Cruz either.

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c
San Francisco
10 reviews
Dined on May 31, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 3ambience 3

Love this restaurant. Been here at least a dozen times. Unfortunately, outside seating wasn’t available and wait staff were extremely busy. Food was amazing as usual.

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R
1 review
Dined on May 30, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We sat on the patio which is lovely and keep the noise level nice and low. The food was delicious and the service prompt and courteous.

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EL
San Francisco
25 reviews
Dined on May 25, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Jerad gave us excellent customer service, thank you!

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AT
1 review
Dined on May 24, 2019
Overall 1food 2service 1ambience 1

Terrible experience. Came here for dinner with my family to celebrate graduating and they forgot about our party of 9 multiple times. Our drinks didn't come for 30 minutes, our first course salads didn't show up till an hour and a half in. None of our food came at the same time and I'm not even sure who are server was because it kept switching back and forth between two different people. Appetizer never came etc... Our main course finally came after two hours! Needless to say it was a lot of my family and close friends first time being there and they will never come back; and sadly neither will I.

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SM
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on May 24, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Fascinating and fun food. Diverse menu. There was something for everyone.

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j
1 review
Dined on May 24, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Difficult to accept two young children, at one point running round and round with some screaming.

The Chai was exceptional. Can you tell me the ingredients?

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r
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on May 21, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

always our favorite dinner spot in SC--- we went here for our first date and just went this week to celebrate four years (three years married!). get the chicken, lamb, or filet mignon kebab!

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LG
Central Coast
1 review
Dined on May 21, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We Love everything about Laila!!
Great food! Awesome service !!
Fun upbeat music!

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OT
Central Coast
22 reviews
Dined on May 19, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 3ambience 3

Our food was delicious as always. The main drawback was the noisy atmosphere which impacted conversation slightly. We had requested courtyard seating for that reason, but upon arrival were told courtyard was not available due to rain earlier that day, which was disappointing. We did have to wait about ten minutes after our reserved time, even though several empty tables could be seen; not sure why. Our servers were perfect during the meal itself, appearing as needed but not hovering or intrusive. Once we finished the leisurely meal, however, I felt like we were suddenly swooped down upon by an energetic swarm of staff whisking away our plates, bringing the check and clearing things away at a precipitously efficient pace. It made me suspect that a need had suddenly arisen for our table and we were being rushed out of there. Nonetheless, a good experience overall.

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JM
Vancouver
7 reviews
Dined on May 19, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

Lovely downtown setting, the pomegranate dishes especially good, prices fair

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JB
1 review
Dined on May 19, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Back again, and again, and again. We keep coming to Laili because the food is great, the staff are attentive and they thankfully have not changed very much at all for 10 years or longer. Keep it up!

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MS
New York Area
1 review
Dined on May 17, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Thanks to staff that let us hang out beyond closing time. We so appreciated it. Great place.

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CD
San Francisco
13 reviews
Dined on May 17, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 3

Love the pomegranate eggplant dish.Good service. Wish they didn't have the loud music playing it made lunch conversation difficult.

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V
Hawaii
1 review
Dined on May 15, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

One of the only restaurants in Santa Cruz that has everything I’m looking for, great and healthy food, pleasant surroundings and professional staff.

Love it here, always coming back for more!

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R
1 review
Dined on May 15, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Consistently excellent....the food, service, smiles

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G
San Francisco
5 reviews
Dined on May 12, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 3

Never disappoints and we have never had a bad meal or experience.

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o
Central Coast
13 reviews
Dined on May 12, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We weren’t sure what to expect on a busy Mother’s Day, but were very pleased to get a lovely table on a quiet side of the patio. The food was outstanding and the service and ambiance were great. Highly recommended!

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PH
San Francisco
4 reviews
Dined on May 12, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Laili was busy on Mothers Day! Glad we had made a reservation. We were seated on the patio, as we had requested. The weather gods smiled on us: beautiful spring day! As usual, food, service and ambiance were wonderful. We frequently recommend Laili to friends and strangers.

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