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The Bay Area Heatmap: Where To Eat NOW, February 2015

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More often than not, tipsters, readers, friends and family of Eater have one question: Where should I eat right now? Restaurant obsessives want to know what's new, what's hot, which favorite chef just launched a sophomore effort, where to sip the cocktail of the moment. And while the Eater 38 is a crucial resource covering old standbys and neighborhood essentials across the city, it is not a chronicle of the 'it' places of the moment. Thus, we offer the Eater Heatmap, which will change continually to highlight where the foodie crowds are flocking at the moment.

Check out the map of the Bay Area's hottest restaurants right now below (in no particular order beyond alphabetical), and drop any feedback in the comments section.

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AL's Place

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This Mission neighborhood restaurant from lauded former Ubuntu chef Aaron London is focused on doing great and inventive things with vegetables and seafood (though you can still order meat as a side dish). The price tag is surprisingly reasonable, and they've got a robust loophole cocktail program and wine list.

Arguello

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After launching a surprise Presidio hit with The Commissary, Traci des Jardins is back at it with this upscale-casual Mexican restaurant in the revived Presidio Officers' Club, featuring fish and carne asada tacos on housemade tortillas, albondigas soup, ceviche, and carnitas, all through a NorCal seasonality lens. Full liquor and margaritas are in the mix, and there's a big, sheltered patio area.

Brenda's Meat & Three

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The latest from soul food queen Brenda Buenviaje boasts an airy new space on Divisadero with a meat-heavy menu and scores of homey sides to round out the meal. Expect the usual brunch lines from Brenda's to make the leap to dinner service here.

Burma Love

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The Inner Richmond's Burma Superstar now has a flashier, pricier Valencia spinoff, turning out the classics (tea-leaf salad, samusa soup, chicken-coconut-curry noodles) and some new seafood dishes, with full liquor on the way. It all comes at a significantly higher price point than the original, but for Missionites who'd rather not schlep to Clement, it might be worth the tariff.

Californios

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Val M. Cantu's extremely petite, extremely personal Mission tasting-menu restaurant offers fine dining through a Mexican lens, taking on everything from barbacoa to Mexican wedding cookies with a personal touch to be expected from a Sons & Daughters and Uchi alum. It's also relatively affordable ($57 for seven courses), and they've got a French Laundry veteran on wine. [Update: The price of dinner at Californios has been bumped to $75.]

Cockscomb

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Top Chef Masters champ Chris Cosentino has risen from the ashes of Incanto at this highly personal new restaurant, where he's taking on San Francisco classics like celery Victor and Hangtown fry with his signature meaty twists (and love of offal). The space is quirky and fun, with plenty of beer and gin flowing.

Crystal Jade Jiang Nan

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One of Asia's most beloved culinary chains has come Stateside for the first time, dropping a whopping $14 million on a huge, glamorous Embarcadero Center perch. Dim sum, Peking duck, whole seafood, and other Chinese banquet classics emerge from a kitchen that's larger than most SF restaurants, and there's a sizable bar/lounge and to-go arm for office workers.

Hapa Ramen

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Richie Nakano's longtime pop-up is now a fully fledged Mission restaurant, complete with cocktails from Bourbon & Branch alums and Asian small plates to accompany his signature noodle soups. Don't expect hidebound ramen traditionalism here: Nakano likes to get experimental, with variations ranging from duck to cheeseburger ramen.

Hawker Fare

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James Syhabout's popular Uptown Oakland Thai concept has arrived cityside, with a massive, colorful location in prime Valencia territory. Expect spicy Isaan-style dishes consumed family-style with pads of rice (you can even order an entire bottle of Johnnie Walker to make highballs), as well as inventive cocktails at the miniature upstairs bar, Holy Mountain.

This intimate 25-seat Tenderloin newcomer features a menu of hearty small plates from Bar Agricole vet Sara Hauman. Throw in a baked goods collaboration with neighboring Jane on Larkin and charming interiors from the Bon Vivants Design+Build team, and you've got the ultimate neighborhood bistro.

Lazy Bear

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You'll need a hotly contested ticket to visit the Mission brick-and-mortar from long-running underground chef David Barzelay. But if you can snag one, Lazy Bear is an exciting new player in the tasting-menu scene, with an upstairs cocktail party leading to a lively communal dinner full of playful and seasonal creations.

Liholiho Yacht Club

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One of the most anticipated restaurants of this and many other years, LYC brings together the service and style ethos of the gang behind Nopa and Nopalito with the dynamic Hawaiian-Indian-NorCal cooking of former Prospect chef Ravi Kapur. The result is a sleek, sophisticated, and slightly cheeky tribute to the islands, complete with cocktails.

Monsieur Benjamin

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The second project from Benu whiz Corey Lee is a thoroughly French bistro, with takes on the classics both familiar (duck confit, steak frites, a burger) and less so (escargot, sweetbreads, beef tongue). There are cocktails and a solid under-$100 wine list, and it's open until 1 am.

A perennial Michelin player at Aziza, Mourad Lahlou has debuted his first spinoff downtown, a splashy, glamorous spot in which to enjoy his signature Moroccan-influenced cuisine. Whether you want to grab a bite at the bar or go all-in on a tasting menu, there's lots to enjoy, including wine selected by a Master Sommelier.

Orenchi Beyond

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The brand-new San Francisco outpost of the wildly popular Santa Clara ramen shop immediately drew lines when it opened at the end of October— and for good reason, the ramen is worth the wait. Speaking of which, those lines are that much more bearable thanks to a front counter area where you can drink until a table opens up.

Pink Zebra

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The new venture from Mission Chinese Food chef Jesse Koide features an eclectic mix of Japanese and Mediterranean flavors with a 40-seat-dining room and an oh-so-hot-right-now $75 omakase menu that includes nigiri, pickles and other traditional small plates. Get in before the crew decamps for New York.

Rintaro

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Sylvan Mishima Brackett's charming, delicate takeover of the former Chez Spencer features izakaya fare interpreted through a farm-to-table lens, with seasonal, highly NorCal takes on yakitori, chawanmushi, karaage, dumplings, and other Japanese classics.

The Hall

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Hungry mid-Market office workers are rejoicing at the arrival of this lively new complex, featuring six vendors offering everything from Vietnamese food to Indian curries to sustainable seafood. An Anchor beer and wine bar keeps things bumping, and the $5 dim sum carts at happy hour are a lot of fun.

The Market

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A bonkers new grocery store and food complex in the Twitter building, The Market features four fast-casual outposts (including Azalina's Malaysian), a full-service grocery, a tapas bar, a coffee shop with beer and wine, a sushi and oyster bar, and a chocolatier, among other options. Think Whole Foods on steroids, with a price tag to match.

The Progress

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Scoring a reservation at the new restaurant from State Bird Provisions' Stuart Brioza & Nicole Krasinski isn't easy, but you'll be rewarded with divine, globe-trotting dishes that truly push boundaries. The menu is $68/person for six courses (you choose from a list of 12) served family-style, so go with people who don't mind sharing. Also of note: a full bar with cocktails, and a much more extensive wine list than State Bird's.

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AL's Place

This Mission neighborhood restaurant from lauded former Ubuntu chef Aaron London is focused on doing great and inventive things with vegetables and seafood (though you can still order meat as a side dish). The price tag is surprisingly reasonable, and they've got a robust loophole cocktail program and wine list.

Arguello

After launching a surprise Presidio hit with The Commissary, Traci des Jardins is back at it with this upscale-casual Mexican restaurant in the revived Presidio Officers' Club, featuring fish and carne asada tacos on housemade tortillas, albondigas soup, ceviche, and carnitas, all through a NorCal seasonality lens. Full liquor and margaritas are in the mix, and there's a big, sheltered patio area.

Brenda's Meat & Three

The latest from soul food queen Brenda Buenviaje boasts an airy new space on Divisadero with a meat-heavy menu and scores of homey sides to round out the meal. Expect the usual brunch lines from Brenda's to make the leap to dinner service here.

Burma Love

The Inner Richmond's Burma Superstar now has a flashier, pricier Valencia spinoff, turning out the classics (tea-leaf salad, samusa soup, chicken-coconut-curry noodles) and some new seafood dishes, with full liquor on the way. It all comes at a significantly higher price point than the original, but for Missionites who'd rather not schlep to Clement, it might be worth the tariff.

Californios

Val M. Cantu's extremely petite, extremely personal Mission tasting-menu restaurant offers fine dining through a Mexican lens, taking on everything from barbacoa to Mexican wedding cookies with a personal touch to be expected from a Sons & Daughters and Uchi alum. It's also relatively affordable ($57 for seven courses), and they've got a French Laundry veteran on wine. [Update: The price of dinner at Californios has been bumped to $75.]

Cockscomb

Top Chef Masters champ Chris Cosentino has risen from the ashes of Incanto at this highly personal new restaurant, where he's taking on San Francisco classics like celery Victor and Hangtown fry with his signature meaty twists (and love of offal). The space is quirky and fun, with plenty of beer and gin flowing.

Crystal Jade Jiang Nan

One of Asia's most beloved culinary chains has come Stateside for the first time, dropping a whopping $14 million on a huge, glamorous Embarcadero Center perch. Dim sum, Peking duck, whole seafood, and other Chinese banquet classics emerge from a kitchen that's larger than most SF restaurants, and there's a sizable bar/lounge and to-go arm for office workers.

Hapa Ramen

Richie Nakano's longtime pop-up is now a fully fledged Mission restaurant, complete with cocktails from Bourbon & Branch alums and Asian small plates to accompany his signature noodle soups. Don't expect hidebound ramen traditionalism here: Nakano likes to get experimental, with variations ranging from duck to cheeseburger ramen.

Hawker Fare

James Syhabout's popular Uptown Oakland Thai concept has arrived cityside, with a massive, colorful location in prime Valencia territory. Expect spicy Isaan-style dishes consumed family-style with pads of rice (you can even order an entire bottle of Johnnie Walker to make highballs), as well as inventive cocktails at the miniature upstairs bar, Holy Mountain.

Huxley

This intimate 25-seat Tenderloin newcomer features a menu of hearty small plates from Bar Agricole vet Sara Hauman. Throw in a baked goods collaboration with neighboring Jane on Larkin and charming interiors from the Bon Vivants Design+Build team, and you've got the ultimate neighborhood bistro.

Lazy Bear

You'll need a hotly contested ticket to visit the Mission brick-and-mortar from long-running underground chef David Barzelay. But if you can snag one, Lazy Bear is an exciting new player in the tasting-menu scene, with an upstairs cocktail party leading to a lively communal dinner full of playful and seasonal creations.

Liholiho Yacht Club

One of the most anticipated restaurants of this and many other years, LYC brings together the service and style ethos of the gang behind Nopa and Nopalito with the dynamic Hawaiian-Indian-NorCal cooking of former Prospect chef Ravi Kapur. The result is a sleek, sophisticated, and slightly cheeky tribute to the islands, complete with cocktails.

Monsieur Benjamin

The second project from Benu whiz Corey Lee is a thoroughly French bistro, with takes on the classics both familiar (duck confit, steak frites, a burger) and less so (escargot, sweetbreads, beef tongue). There are cocktails and a solid under-$100 wine list, and it's open until 1 am.

Mourad

A perennial Michelin player at Aziza, Mourad Lahlou has debuted his first spinoff downtown, a splashy, glamorous spot in which to enjoy his signature Moroccan-influenced cuisine. Whether you want to grab a bite at the bar or go all-in on a tasting menu, there's lots to enjoy, including wine selected by a Master Sommelier.

Orenchi Beyond

The brand-new San Francisco outpost of the wildly popular Santa Clara ramen shop immediately drew lines when it opened at the end of October— and for good reason, the ramen is worth the wait. Speaking of which, those lines are that much more bearable thanks to a front counter area where you can drink until a table opens up.

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Pink Zebra

The new venture from Mission Chinese Food chef Jesse Koide features an eclectic mix of Japanese and Mediterranean flavors with a 40-seat-dining room and an oh-so-hot-right-now $75 omakase menu that includes nigiri, pickles and other traditional small plates. Get in before the crew decamps for New York.

Rintaro

Sylvan Mishima Brackett's charming, delicate takeover of the former Chez Spencer features izakaya fare interpreted through a farm-to-table lens, with seasonal, highly NorCal takes on yakitori, chawanmushi, karaage, dumplings, and other Japanese classics.