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Malabar Cafe

514 Front St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060-4506
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Ranked #53 of 327 restaurants in Santa Cruz
Cuisines: Asian
Dining options: Reservations
Most recent review
- Jul 18, 2014
Restaurant details
Dining options: Reservations
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52 reviews from our community

82% Recommend
Rating summary
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Top Contributor
156 reviews 156 reviews
92 restaurant reviews
79 helpful votes 79 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 18, 2014

We let my daughter and her roommate pick the restaurant. Frankly, I had no idea what Sri Lankan food was. My daughter said it was similar to Thai. She was wrong, it's nothing like Thai, closer to Indian food, but really it's own category. When we walked in, sat down, and looked at the menu, it was clear, this was... More

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Fremont, California, United States
Senior Contributor
30 reviews 30 reviews
13 restaurant reviews
41 helpful votes 41 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 25, 2014

Surprised to see a Srilankan place in Santa Cruz - but it was great. Dishes were all good - i highly recommend the Kotha Roti. And wash it down with a yummy Moroccan Lassi. Decor was nice and service was excellent (maybe it was the owner who waited on us). Food presentation was great too!

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Santa Barbara, California
Senior Contributor
30 reviews 30 reviews
10 restaurant reviews
24 helpful votes 24 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 23, 2014

Do not be fooled by the seemingly aloof service: this place has some of the best Sri Lankan food we've had in the Western World. Their dishes are extremely flavorful and all made fresh with the best ingredients. Their drinks are very exotic and just absolutely amazing. We've tried many and found all to be a treat to the senses.... More

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Portland, Oregon
Senior Contributor
30 reviews 30 reviews
18 restaurant reviews
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed June 15, 2014

Found this place on HappyCow as we were looking for vegan food. Nothing on the menu says vegan vs veggie and staff wasn't very helpful answering questions. Food was amazing and so full of flavor - I'm sure we had some ghee or butter. Simple decor - and simple can be good if it were clean - but there was... More

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Grass Valley, California
3 reviews 3 reviews
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 1, 2014

This Veggie Indian restaurant is not high on joyful service, but what a taste treat. Usually, I find Indian restaurant food too heavy. but not here.

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Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
5 restaurant reviews
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed March 16, 2014

Slow service, rude staff, courteous owner, decent food, good and simple ambiance, clean bathroom and very expensive especially given their quantities ! Wouldn't come here again.

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Los Angeles, California
Senior Contributor
44 reviews 44 reviews
24 restaurant reviews
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 24, 2014 via mobile

Such a treat to have a whole vegetarian menu to choose from. Food is great. However tables are crowded and service is terrible! Be sure to make a reservation but no guarantee that will get you in.

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Top Contributor
64 reviews 64 reviews
31 restaurant reviews
33 helpful votes 33 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 4, 2013

My daughter and I went to Santa Cruz for a day. One of her friends had told her about the restaurant Malabar so we decided to go and check it out. It was the most fantastic vegetarian restaurant I had ever been to. They had such interesting menu items that it was very hard to choose what to have. We... More

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San Jose, California
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
4 restaurant reviews
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 29, 2013

Our party of three was seated very quickly on a Saturday night without a reservation. The restaurant was fairly full. The restaurant was a little too dimly lit. That was our only annoyance that night as we had a difficult time reading the menu. I wanted to try everything! We shared a starter of Salad Roll of avocado, tempeh &... More

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Minneapolis, Minnesota
5 reviews 5 reviews
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 20, 2013 via mobile

Just had the most exquisite dining experience at Malabar. It would be good for a date or just dinner with a friend (like I did). The ambiance was relaxing and quaint, the service attentive and friendly. Every dish was unique, plated immaculately, and absolutely delicious. I ordered the Persian Nights drink, smooth creamy fruity deliciousness. Our favorite dish was the... More

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