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A mala sundae from Emilie’s features honey custard, Sichuan chocolate, and condensed milk ice creams
A mala sundae from Emilie’s features honey custard, Sichuan chocolate, and condensed milk ice creams
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

The 15 Hottest Restaurants in D.C., November 2019

Where to eat right now around the DMV

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A mala sundae from Emilie’s features honey custard, Sichuan chocolate, and condensed milk ice creams
| Photo by Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Readers, friends and family often come to Eater editors with one question: “Where should I eat right now?” Restaurant obsessives want to know what’s new, what’s exciting, which favorite chef just opened a new place. And while the Eater 38 is a crucial resource covering standbys and essentials across the city, it is not a chronicle of the ‘it’ places of the moment. Enter the Eater Heatmap, which will change monthly to highlight where discerning diners are flocking to right now.

Now leaving the hot list: Cherry, Randy’s Prime, Shilling Canning Company, Taïm, Thamee, Vintage78, Sunday Morning Bakehouse

New to the hot list: Augie’s Mussel House, Butter Chicken Company, Emilie’s, Hatoba, the Imperial, Mexicue, Nina May, Pom Pom

For all the latest Washington D.C. dining intel, subscribe to Eater DC’s newsletter.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Pom Pom

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828 Upshur St NW
Washington, DC 20011
(202) 321-4751
Visit Website

Himitsu co-founder Carlie Steiner revamped the former Petworth hit to reflect her colorful personality, which means there are bright, fuzzy pompoms blanketing the 24-seat dining room and more puns on the menu. Steiner brought on young talent Amanda Moll to lead the kitchen, and the chef arrived toting za’atar, labneh, and a plan to preserve lemons. There are still Latin and Southeast Asian flavors on the shared plates here, but Steiner and Moll have differentiated it from its past with a smattering of Middle Eastern influences. So there’s a Persian tahdig, but the mound of grains with a crispy exterior is formed out of Peruvian green rice. Try the steak and kisses, a wagyu beef tartare brightened by lots of beet cubes, chimichurri, gochujang, and toasted hazelnuts.

Middle Eastern hamachi crudo from Pom Pom
Middle Eastern hamachi crudo from Pom Pom
Deb Lindsey/The Washington Post via Getty Images

2. Tino’s Pizzeria

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3420 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20008
(202) 525-5311
Visit Website

The glow-up in this old Chipotle location in the heart of Cleveland Park includes Neapolitan pizzas with uniformly thin crusts that don’t fold under the weight of farm-fresh ingredients like fennel or honeynut squash. Sticky-sweet “shallot goo” replaces tomato as a base sauce on some pies, like a fig and gorgonzola number with soppressata and arugula. It’s a tight space with counter service, but the friendly staff finds small ways to leave an impression.

The facade of Tino’s Pizzeria in Cleveland Park
The facade of Tino’s Pizzeria in Cleveland Park
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

3. The Imperial

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2001 18th St NW
Washington, DC 20009

This three-level complex from the owners of the Jack Rose whiskey bar finally opened on Adams Morgan’s Southern border after nearly five years of construction and regulatory headaches. The Imperial aims to draw in customers with more than “cobblered” cocktails and vintage spirits. A food menu giving off whiffs of Continental nostalgia features an epic seafood tower, sorghum risotto with black truffles, anchovy-bread crumb bucatini, beef Wellington, and a large-format, koji-aged sirloin cap. The full menu isn’t available until the grand opening on Wednesday, November 13.

The Imperial tower ($144) comes with 18 oysters, eight clams, six shrimp, smoked mussels, oysters rockefeller, whole lobster. and blue crab “Imperial”
The Imperial tower ($144) comes with 18 oysters, eight clams, six shrimp, smoked mussels, oysters rockefeller, whole lobster. and blue crab “Imperial”
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

4. Gogi Yogi

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1921 8th St NW
Washington, DC 20001

The latest project from Duke’s Grocery co-founder and L.A. native Daniel Kramer converts a former Shaw retail store into a neon-lit, graffiti-soaked dining room for tabletop-grilled meats and seafood. Give the place bonus points for stocking hot pink meat shears that double as bottle openers. Appetizers include fried dumplings or a spicy bowl of beef “hangover” soup. The mother of pearl-splashed bar serves lots of soju and a Korean spin on an Old Fashioned.

A portrait of Gogi Yogi chef Patrice Cunningham
Gogi Yogi chef and D.C. native Patrice Cunningham grew up learning recipes from her Korean mother.
Ralph Alswang/For Eater D.C.

5. Anju

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1805 18th St NW
Washington, DC 20009

Chiko chefs Danny Lee and Scott Drewno have revived the fire-damaged Mandu space on 18th Street by installing a modern Korean pub that serves pork shank stew, 100-day kimchi, and fried chicken with three sauces (jujube mole, white barbecue, gochujang). Protege Angel Barreto is leading the kitchen and taking notes from Lee’s mom.

A table upstairs at Anju with a built-in induction burner for serving a special Korean hot pot menu.
A table upstairs at Anju with a built-in induction burner for serving a special Korean hot pot menu.
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

6. Mexicue

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1720 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 234-1595
Visit Website

This former New York City food truck has grown into a group of restaurants that now includes a location with prime real estate on 14th Street NW. An expanded selection of agave spirts (tequila, mezcal, raicilla, sotol) and a Maryland crab tostada are unique to D.C. Pulled pork tacos, Mexican jambalaya “quessaritos,” and cornbread grilled with chipotle butter have traveled with the brand.

The renovated bar at Mexicue in D.C.
The renovated bar at Mexicue in D.C.
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

7. Nina May

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1337 11th St NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 518-3609
Visit Website

Colin McClimans and Danilo Simic, a respective chef and bar boss who first met while working at sustainable fine-dining institution Equinox, are taking on ownership roles while moving into this Logan Circle space where previous restaurant tenants have struggled to establish a foothold. Nina May is attempting to source all its produce from within a 150-mile radius of the restaurant, and McClimans is offering a $39 “family meal” in which he picks the dishes and customers can order until their full. The opening wave of dishes included fresh marrow beans braised in Parmesan broth and Virginia bison tartare. There will eventually be a daytime component with Swing’s coffee and house pastries along with a cafe menu with burgers.

Swiss chard-stuffed rainbow trout from Nina May
Swiss chard-stuffed rainbow trout from Nina May
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

8. Residents Cafe & Bar

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1306 18th St NW
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 621-8585
Visit Website

Dupont Circle’s splashy new two-level cafe draws inspiration from the Mediterranean coastline, complete with swaying palms, a super chic design, and menu that swings from matcha lattes and colorful granola bowls by day to chickpea fritters with carrot-tumeric hummus or Kobe beef at night. Espresso martinis are the star behind the bar, served with vodka, rum, or bourbon.

9. Butter Chicken Company

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818 18th St NW
Washington, DC 20006
(202) 331-4175
Visit Website

An outgrowth of 2019 hit Bombay Street Food, Butter Chicken Company takes a straightforward approach to lunch. Huge copper pots built in Jaipur, India, hold hot portions of butter chicken built on a generous foundation of ghee, chicken tikka masala, vegetable biryani, saag paneer, and spicy stewed chickpeas. An $11 tray allows customers to configure an entree portion and two sides however they want. Early lines have been snaking far, and the shop closes down after it sells out of roughly 300 servings.

A tray off butter chicken with saag paneer and chana masala at Butter Chicken Company
A tray off butter chicken with saag paneer and chana masala at Butter Chicken Company
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

10. Modena

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1100 New York Ave NW
Washington, DC 20005

Despite its name, taken from the city known for Parmesan and balsamic vinegar, the rebooted restaurant in the former Bibiana space plays fast and loose with Italian food from a number of regions. Chef John Melfi, formerly of the Oval Room and Fiola Mare, is configuring options for salads and snacks — like shaved prosciutto and a ricotta tart with seasonal vegetables baked in — that roam the dining room on an imported trolley. Innovative pastas include a risotto Nero topped with fritto misto and a chitarra with jumbo lump crab, sea urchin, and Calabrian chile.

The roving antipasti trolley at Modena
The roving antipasti trolley at Modena
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

11. Piccolina da Centrolina

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963 Palmer Alley NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 804-5713
Visit Website

Perennial James Beard award finalist Amy Brandwein doubled her footprint in CityCenterDC with an all-day cafe right across from Centrolina, her simple, essential Italian restaurant and market. Brandwein recently studied bread making in San Francisco and imported a wood-burning oven from France to churn out loaves of walnut raisin ficelle, rosemary focaccia, and brioche. Omelets and grapefruits go into the oven, and so do stuffed Sicilian scacce pockets and panuzzo buns that get stuffed with porchetta.

12. Thompson Italian

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124 N Washington St
Falls Church, VA 22046
(703) 269-0893
Visit Website

Former RPM Italian executive chef Gabe Thompson and wife/pastry chef Katherine Thompson honed their resumes working at some of NYC’s top Italian restaurants. For their first D.C. area restaurant, they gave the old Argia’s space an eclectic refresh that includes a “Pasta Power” neon and ’80s and ’90s rock posters. The one-page menu includes spicy pork meatballs, watermelon panzanella, and pasta dishes like ricotta gnocchi in lamb ragu and spiraled gemelli with shrimp fra diavolo. Look for one or two specials every night — like a large steak or whole fish — and save room for Katherine’s famed olive oil cake, which is still on the menu at L’Artusi in New York.

13. Emilie's

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1101 Pennsylvania Ave SE
Washington, DC 20003
(202) 544-4368
Visit Website

Chef Kevin Tien left Himitsu in September to branch out on his own with Emilie’s, where he’s deploying an all-star brigade of culinary talents from D.C. hot spots to execute a vision of New American food that blends up Japanese, Vietnamese, and Chinese traditions with domestic comforts. The format favors communal dining, so Emilie’s has rolling carts carrying dips, spreads, pickles, and ferments to pair with breads, small plates — try the miso butter-coated champon noodles that mirror cacio e pepe — and large-format dishes like Vietnamese pork blade steak and ranch-flavored fried chicken with Texas toast and caviar deviled eggs.

Ranch-flavored fried chicken with Texas Toast and caviar-topped deviled eggs from Emilie’s
Ranch-flavored fried chicken with Texas Toast and caviar-topped deviled eggs from Emilie’s
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

14. Hatoba

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300 Tingey St SE
Washington, DC 20003
(202) 488-4800
Visit Website

Sapporo-sourced ramen noodles from the city’s chief experts at Daikaya Group (Daikaya/Izakaya, Haikan, Bantam King) now have a home in Navy Yard. Innovations include a red miso clam broth and a vegan variety with curry and a whole tomato. The inside of the shop is covered in bowls and brushes, a nod to the owners’ affinity for Tokyo’s Kappabashi Street, a go-to district for kitchen supplies.

The front patio outside of Hatoba
The front patio outside of Hatoba
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

15. Augie's Mussel House and Beer Garden

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1106 King St
Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 721-3970
Visit Website

The Alexandria-based bar team behind Urbano 116, Mason Social, and Catch On The Ave. made this former pop-up permanent inside a renovated 1800s-era building that now sports a bar lined with glowing glass panels made out of recycled beer bottles. Urbano chef Alam Mendez Florian dusted off a soft pretzel recipe from culinary school that goes with the beer cheese. Mussel options include bowls brimming with nduja, Old Bay crab broth, or green curry. The heated patio has three big-screen TVs and room for 75 people.

The burger at Augie’s, topped with crispy onions, gouda and horseradish aioli.
The burger at Augie’s, topped with crispy onions, gouda and horseradish aioli.
@ShootJoeC/Augie’s

1. Pom Pom

828 Upshur St NW, Washington, DC 20011
Middle Eastern hamachi crudo from Pom Pom
Middle Eastern hamachi crudo from Pom Pom
Deb Lindsey/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Himitsu co-founder Carlie Steiner revamped the former Petworth hit to reflect her colorful personality, which means there are bright, fuzzy pompoms blanketing the 24-seat dining room and more puns on the menu. Steiner brought on young talent Amanda Moll to lead the kitchen, and the chef arrived toting za’atar, labneh, and a plan to preserve lemons. There are still Latin and Southeast Asian flavors on the shared plates here, but Steiner and Moll have differentiated it from its past with a smattering of Middle Eastern influences. So there’s a Persian tahdig, but the mound of grains with a crispy exterior is formed out of Peruvian green rice. Try the steak and kisses, a wagyu beef tartare brightened by lots of beet cubes, chimichurri, gochujang, and toasted hazelnuts.

828 Upshur St NW
Washington, DC 20011

2. Tino’s Pizzeria

3420 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008
The facade of Tino’s Pizzeria in Cleveland Park
The facade of Tino’s Pizzeria in Cleveland Park
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

The glow-up in this old Chipotle location in the heart of Cleveland Park includes Neapolitan pizzas with uniformly thin crusts that don’t fold under the weight of farm-fresh ingredients like fennel or honeynut squash. Sticky-sweet “shallot goo” replaces tomato as a base sauce on some pies, like a fig and gorgonzola number with soppressata and arugula. It’s a tight space with counter service, but the friendly staff finds small ways to leave an impression.

3420 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20008

3. The Imperial

2001 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009
The Imperial tower ($144) comes with 18 oysters, eight clams, six shrimp, smoked mussels, oysters rockefeller, whole lobster. and blue crab “Imperial”
The Imperial tower ($144) comes with 18 oysters, eight clams, six shrimp, smoked mussels, oysters rockefeller, whole lobster. and blue crab “Imperial”
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

This three-level complex from the owners of the Jack Rose whiskey bar finally opened on Adams Morgan’s Southern border after nearly five years of construction and regulatory headaches. The Imperial aims to draw in customers with more than “cobblered” cocktails and vintage spirits. A food menu giving off whiffs of Continental nostalgia features an epic seafood tower, sorghum risotto with black truffles, anchovy-bread crumb bucatini, beef Wellington, and a large-format, koji-aged sirloin cap. The full menu isn’t available until the grand opening on Wednesday, November 13.

2001 18th St NW
Washington, DC 20009

4. Gogi Yogi

1921 8th St NW, Washington, DC 20001
A portrait of Gogi Yogi chef Patrice Cunningham
Gogi Yogi chef and D.C. native Patrice Cunningham grew up learning recipes from her Korean mother.
Ralph Alswang/For Eater D.C.

The latest project from Duke’s Grocery co-founder and L.A. native Daniel Kramer converts a former Shaw retail store into a neon-lit, graffiti-soaked dining room for tabletop-grilled meats and seafood. Give the place bonus points for stocking hot pink meat shears that double as bottle openers. Appetizers include fried dumplings or a spicy bowl of beef “hangover” soup. The mother of pearl-splashed bar serves lots of soju and a Korean spin on an Old Fashioned.

1921 8th St NW
Washington, DC 20001

5. Anju

1805 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009
A table upstairs at Anju with a built-in induction burner for serving a special Korean hot pot menu.
A table upstairs at Anju with a built-in induction burner for serving a special Korean hot pot menu.
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Chiko chefs Danny Lee and Scott Drewno have revived the fire-damaged Mandu space on 18th Street by installing a modern Korean pub that serves pork shank stew, 100-day kimchi, and fried chicken with three sauces (jujube mole, white barbecue, gochujang). Protege Angel Barreto is leading the kitchen and taking notes from Lee’s mom.

1805 18th St NW
Washington, DC 20009

6. Mexicue

1720 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009
The renovated bar at Mexicue in D.C.
The renovated bar at Mexicue in D.C.
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

This former New York City food truck has grown into a group of restaurants that now includes a location with prime real estate on 14th Street NW. An expanded selection of agave spirts (tequila, mezcal, raicilla, sotol) and a Maryland crab tostada are unique to D.C. Pulled pork tacos, Mexican jambalaya “quessaritos,” and cornbread grilled with chipotle butter have traveled with the brand.

1720 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20009

7. Nina May

1337 11th St NW, Washington, DC 20001
Swiss chard-stuffed rainbow trout from Nina May
Swiss chard-stuffed rainbow trout from Nina May
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Colin McClimans and Danilo Simic, a respective chef and bar boss who first met while working at sustainable fine-dining institution Equinox, are taking on ownership roles while moving into this Logan Circle space where previous restaurant tenants have struggled to establish a foothold. Nina May is attempting to source all its produce from within a 150-mile radius of the restaurant, and McClimans is offering a $39 “family meal” in which he picks the dishes and customers can order until their full. The opening wave of dishes included fresh marrow beans braised in Parmesan broth and Virginia bison tartare. There will eventually be a daytime component with Swing’s coffee and house pastries along with a cafe menu with burgers.

1337 11th St NW
Washington, DC 20001

8. Residents Cafe & Bar

1306 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20036

Dupont Circle’s splashy new two-level cafe draws inspiration from the Mediterranean coastline, complete with swaying palms, a super chic design, and menu that swings from matcha lattes and colorful granola bowls by day to chickpea fritters with carrot-tumeric hummus or Kobe beef at night. Espresso martinis are the star behind the bar, served with vodka, rum, or bourbon.

1306 18th St NW
Washington, DC 20036

9. Butter Chicken Company

818 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20006
A tray off butter chicken with saag paneer and chana masala at Butter Chicken Company
A tray off butter chicken with saag paneer and chana masala at Butter Chicken Company
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

An outgrowth of 2019 hit Bombay Street Food, Butter Chicken Company takes a straightforward approach to lunch. Huge copper pots built in Jaipur, India, hold hot portions of butter chicken built on a generous foundation of ghee, chicken tikka masala, vegetable biryani, saag paneer, and spicy stewed chickpeas. An $11 tray allows customers to configure an entree portion and two sides however they want. Early lines have been snaking far, and the shop closes down after it sells out of roughly 300 servings.

818 18th St NW
Washington, DC 20006

10. Modena

1100 New York Ave NW, Washington, DC 20005
The roving antipasti trolley at Modena
The roving antipasti trolley at Modena
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Despite its name, taken from the city known for Parmesan and balsamic vinegar, the rebooted restaurant in the former Bibiana space plays fast and loose with Italian food from a number of regions. Chef John Melfi, formerly of the Oval Room and Fiola Mare, is configuring options for salads and snacks — like shaved prosciutto and a ricotta tart with seasonal vegetables baked in — that roam the dining room on an imported trolley. Innovative pastas include a risotto Nero topped with fritto misto and a chitarra with jumbo lump crab, sea urchin, and Calabrian chile.

1100 New York Ave NW
Washington, DC 20005

11. Piccolina da Centrolina

963 Palmer Alley NW, Washington, DC 20001

Perennial James Beard award finalist Amy Brandwein doubled her footprint in CityCenterDC with an all-day cafe right across from Centrolina, her simple, essential Italian restaurant and market. Brandwein recently studied bread making in San Francisco and imported a wood-burning oven from France to churn out loaves of walnut raisin ficelle, rosemary focaccia, and brioche. Omelets and grapefruits go into the oven, and so do stuffed Sicilian scacce pockets and panuzzo buns that get stuffed with porchetta.

963 Palmer Alley NW
Washington, DC 20001

12. Thompson Italian

124 N Washington St, Falls Church, VA 22046

Former RPM Italian executive chef Gabe Thompson and wife/pastry chef Katherine Thompson honed their resumes working at some of NYC’s top Italian restaurants. For their first D.C. area restaurant, they gave the old Argia’s space an eclectic refresh that includes a “Pasta Power” neon and ’80s and ’90s rock posters. The one-page menu includes spicy pork meatballs, watermelon panzanella, and pasta dishes like ricotta gnocchi in lamb ragu and spiraled gemelli with shrimp fra diavolo. Look for one or two specials every night — like a large steak or whole fish — and save room for Katherine’s famed olive oil cake, which is still on the menu at L’Artusi in New York.

124 N Washington St
Falls Church, VA 22046

13. Emilie's

1101 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, DC 20003
Ranch-flavored fried chicken with Texas Toast and caviar-topped deviled eggs from Emilie’s
Ranch-flavored fried chicken with Texas Toast and caviar-topped deviled eggs from Emilie’s
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Chef Kevin Tien left Himitsu in September to branch out on his own with Emilie’s, where he’s deploying an all-star brigade of culinary talents from D.C. hot spots to execute a vision of New American food that blends up Japanese, Vietnamese, and Chinese traditions with domestic comforts. The format favors communal dining, so Emilie’s has rolling carts carrying dips, spreads, pickles, and ferments to pair with breads, small plates — try the miso butter-coated champon noodles that mirror cacio e pepe — and large-format dishes like Vietnamese pork blade steak and ranch-flavored fried chicken with Texas toast and caviar deviled eggs.

1101 Pennsylvania Ave SE
Washington, DC 20003

14. Hatoba

300 Tingey St SE, Washington, DC 20003
The front patio outside of Hatoba
The front patio outside of Hatoba
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Sapporo-sourced ramen noodles from the city’s chief experts at Daikaya Group (Daikaya/Izakaya, Haikan, Bantam King) now have a home in Navy Yard. Innovations include a red miso clam broth and a vegan variety with curry and a whole tomato. The inside of the shop is covered in bowls and brushes, a nod to the owners’ affinity for Tokyo’s Kappabashi Street, a go-to district for kitchen supplies.

300 Tingey St SE
Washington, DC 20003

15. Augie's Mussel House and Beer Garden

1106 King St, Alexandria, VA 22314
The burger at Augie’s, topped with crispy onions, gouda and horseradish aioli.
The burger at Augie’s, topped with crispy onions, gouda and horseradish aioli.
@ShootJoeC/Augie’s

The Alexandria-based bar team behind Urbano 116, Mason Social, and Catch On The Ave. made this former pop-up permanent inside a renovated 1800s-era building that now sports a bar lined with glowing glass panels made out of recycled beer bottles. Urbano chef Alam Mendez Florian dusted off a soft pretzel recipe from culinary school that goes with the beer cheese. Mussel options include bowls brimming with nduja, Old Bay crab broth, or green curry. The heated patio has three big-screen TVs and room for 75 people.

1106 King St
Alexandria, VA 22314

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