Restaurant of the Week: Cafe X20

Cafe X20, 2445 Foothill Blvd. (at Town Center Drive), La Verne

Even a makeover by celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay couldn’t save Charlie’s Italian Bistro, which closed earlier this year. Cafe X20, its replacement, opened in November and looked inviting from the street, not just the Mediterranean cuisine and hip name but the active patio and open flames visible from the street at night. Curious, I met a couple of friends there for dinner last week.

X20 has hot and cold appetizers, salads, sandwiches and entrees, $9 to $24. It’s a casual dining take on Lebanese food. We shared the hummus special with diced lamb ($7) and the soujok boreg ($6), a fried shell with sausage and cheese inside, both of which we really liked. Individually we ordered a lule kabob sandwich, which is spiced ground beef ($8), marinated cod and wild salmon ($15 each), which were pan cooked with olive oil, lemon juice and garlic and served with rice and vegetables. We liked all those too, with my salmon being the winner. (A picture is below; sorry the lighting is so poor.)

Service was exceptionally friendly. The name, rather than being something off the periodic table, is shorthand for “hugs and kisses,” the owners said in an interview. They have a bar and, out on the patio, hookah smoking after 9 p.m. X20 is open until midnight six days per week and is closed Mondays.

“I would come here again,” the sandwich eater said. “I should have gotten the lamb,” the cod eater mused. I may have to return for the lamb myself. All in all, this is the best local meal I’ve had in weeks. They didn’t even need Gordon Ramsay’s help.

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