Taste of the Town

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A restaurant resource for dining out in Laguna Beach

Dive Into The Deck

Imbibe beachside at Pacific Edge’s new lounge.- By Hayley Toler

Imagine catching a wave, riding it to the shore, checking your board with the surf valet, and with wet hair and sandy feet walking up to the bartender and ordering a champagne cocktail. The Deck, appropriately named for its open-air tables and weathered wooden floors, fulfills every fantasy of drinking and dining at the beach. Nestled between The Beach House and Pacific Edge Hotel, a mere 15 feet above the sand, The Deck is where the privacy of concierge service at its five beachside cabanas flirts with the social summer atmosphere of its bustling full bar and restaurant. Whether you’ll be indulging in lobster or chilling out with a burger and a beer is up to you, but the most appetizing entrée not on the menu is the luscious panoramic ocean view. The 3,000-square-foot restaurant and lounge opened mid-June and is perfectly positioned in downtown Laguna for those walking along the shore and soaking in the salty breeze. Executive Chef Michael Ingino has prepared a sophisticated menu that adds to the “casual but fine-dining experience” that beachgoers will become a part while sitting in the high wicker seats for a meal or relaxing next to the bar with a cocktail. So leave your sandals or board on the beach, or take off your tie, and enjoy watching the golden sunset on the water fade into darkness.
The Coolest Thing on the Vine

Sommelier Daniel Grajewski explains how fine ice wines come to fruition.

“Ice wines are a fun category of wine that seems to really draw the attention of many wine consumers,” says Daniel Grajewski, sommelier at St. Regis Monarch Beach’s Stonehill Tavern. “There are no other wines quite like it. Even among the sweetest wines, ice wines are a category all their own. I also appreciate the style due to the fact that it is harder to make than one might think. It is not just simply freezing grapes after they are harvested, or even as easy as just letting the grapes hang until frost takes over. It takes commitment and patience.”

Daniel says the world’s best ice wines stay on the vine until they freeze, with attention paid to cultivating healthy grapes (the botrytis fungus is avoided in ice wines, unlike typical dessert wines).

“Some of the most popular ice wines made in Canada legally cannot be harvested until the temperature reaches a certain degree (-8 degrees Celsius),” Daniel explains, adding that global warming makes the correct harvesting of ice wine even more unpredictable. “In Germany the Eisweins are not harvested around temperature, but rather around the sugar level in the grape when harvested.”

For those who are already fans of ice wines or those looking to try one of these naturally sweet wines, Daniel offers the following recommendation: “If I am to recommend an ice wine from Canada, I love to recommend the cabernet franc ice wine from Inniskillin,” he says (inniskillin.com). “Inniskillin really revolutionized this category for Canada and are continuing to make the best from that area. And I like the cabernet franc because it is different. Most everyone tends to think of white wines for sweet dessert wines, but it is fun to throw in a red wine like cabernet franc that actually lends itself very well to ice wine.”

Not Just Another Tuesday With Tacos

A recently revamped Royal Hawaiian throws a Polynesian curveball at run-of-the-mill taco Tuesdays.

Taco Tuesday is not a revolutionary concept in California—grill up enough meat to choke a horse, refry some beans, toss in the obligatory shredded lettuce with a dollop of Daisy on top and bam, you’ve got another Tuesday with another belly full of tacos and Spanish rice. Royal Hawaiian, long known for being a tropical-themed Laguna Beach stalwart, is putting a saucy spin on the weekly Mexican rigmarole, and not a moment too soon.

Rolling out a bevy of fun new food options with their fresh menus, including a decidedly island-flavored twist on a classic with Tiki Taco Tuesdays, Royal Hawaiian gives its diners more than just a primo location with Primo beer. Slow-cooked Kalua island pork along with freshly prepared Baja-style battered fish tacos at just two bucks a piece and matching Polynesian cocktails, sauces and accoutrements promise to make this Hawaiian the weekly hit of the taco party platter.

“Everyone loves Taco Tuesday, but we wanted to add our spin to the typical event with Hawaiian beer, tropical-inspired cocktails and a relaxed vibe,” says General Manager Colleen Oyler. “We hope locals and tourists will come to love our weekly event and join us for great food and drink specials.”

One thing that won’t be changing anytime soon is the house cocktail, and for the better, as there may be no more joyously indulgent way to slip into warm, fuzzy oblivion than by taking on the double-barreled light and dark rum ruination of a Lapu Lapu. Of course, by the second round, the Hawaiian Islands may actually appear visible off in the distant Pacific haze.

American

BJ’s Pizza and Grill

280 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-494-3802;
bjsrestaurants.com
Known for its great deep-dish pizza. Favorites: Gourmet mac & cheese and Sweet Pig pizza. For vegetarians, try the spinach and artichoke pizza. Open for lunch and dinner.

The Cliff Restaurant

577 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-494-1956;
thecliffrestaurant.com
An excellent spot for a date with 180 degrees of ocean views. Try the scallops
wasabi topped with seaweed salad, pickled ginger and wasabi cream sauce.

The Cottage Restaurant

308 N. Coast Hwy.; 949-494-3023;
thecottagerestaurant.com
Some say it’s their favorite breakfast in Laguna, but it is also open for lunch and
dinner. The French toast and Woods Cove Omelette are known as favorites, with the
Eggs Benedict-Arnold a close third.

Hennessey’s Tavern
213 Ocean Ave.; 949-494-2743
hennesseystavern.com
Daily specials include two-for-one burgers on Tuesdays. Karaoke begins
Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Lumberyard Restaurant

384-10 Forest Ave.; 949-715-3900;
lblumberyard.com
Tremendous detail and flavor in every dish. Try the ahi tartare appetizer, sea bass
or New York steak. Open for Sunday brunch, lunch and dinner.

Nick’s Laguna Beach

440 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-376-8595;
thenickco.com/laguna
This casual-upscale delight serves favorites including
warm potato salad, fried deviled eggs and short rib sliders.
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Royal Hawaiian

331 N. Coast Hwy.; 949-494-8001;
royalhawaiianlaguna.net
A recent renovation refreshed the décor at this Laguna staple, established
in 1947. Famous for its Lapu Lapu cocktails. Open for dinner (and lunch on weekends).

Ruby’s Diner

30622 Coast Hwy.; 949-497-7829; rubys.com
Kobe burger is popular, and an outstanding match for the sweet
potato fries. End the meal with a hot fudge sundae or shake. Open for lunch and dinner.

Splashes Restaurant and Bar

1555 S. Coast Hwy. at Surf & Sand Resort;
949-497-4477; surfandsandresort.com
Ocean ambiance with a great view, not to mention
being close enough to hear the waves crash. Try the lobster bisque.
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Stonehill tavern
One Monarch Beach Resort;
949-234-3200; surfandsandresort.com
Michael Mina’s Comtemporary American restaurant offers elegant tavern-style
food with amazing views of the Pacific. Come in for an exceptional dinner.

Tommy Bahama Bar & Grill

400 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-376-6886;
tommybahama.com
The ultra-fresh menu, with dishes like lemon arugula quinoa
and lobster mac ‘n cheese, was specially designed for Laguna Beach
by this popular chain. Open for lunch and dinner.

Tivoli Terrace

650 Laguna Canyon Rd.; 949-494-9650;
tivoliterrace.com
Only open to the public in July and August.
From the summer dinner menu, try the ratatouille,
served with house salad, Tivoli’s own mashed potatoes,
fresh vegetables and dinner rolls.

Tivoli Too!

650 Laguna Canyon Rd.; 949-494-6044; tivoli-too.com

During the summer, a great pre-festival dining spot with a calm,
secluded outdoor patio. Try the lamb shank or the chicken marsala.
Open for lunch and dinner.

 

Belgian

Brussels Bistro

222 Forest Ave.; 949-376-7955; brusselsbistro.com

Try tasty Belgian appetizers and entrees like the les
carbonnades de boeuf à la Stella Artois et ses légumes frais
(beef stew in Stella Artois beer with fresh vegetables).
Open for dinner and dancing.

 

California Contemporary

230 Forest Avenue

230 Forest Ave.; 949-494-2545; 230forestavenue.com

Reservations are recommended at this popular spot. Try the Chilean sea bass,
hoisin BBQ duck and brie spring rolls, and of course,
the chocolate croissant bread pudding.

Café Anastasia

460 Ocean Ave.; 949-497-8903

Like pulp? Try the fresh-squeezed orange juice, paired with Pain
Caramel Toast (caramel French toast) or Belgian waffles,
gingerbread style and topped with fresh Chantilly cream.
Breakfast and lunch are served.

Blue Laguna

696 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-376-2583; bluelagunaoc.com

Blue Laguna offers tapas-style small plates, an extensive wine,
beer and tequila menu, plus daily food and cocktail specials,
and live entertainment. Open for lunch and dinner.

Cafe Zoolu

860 Glenneyre St.; 949-494-6825; cafezoolu.com

Popular swordfish sampler is a must-try. Owned and operated
by a husband and wife duo, this funky quasi-Polynesian cafe is casual
and hip. Open for dinner; closed on Monday.

K’ya Bistro Bar & The RooftopLounge

1287 S. Coast Hwy. at Hotel La Casa del Camino; 949-376-9718; kyabistro.com; rooftoplagunabeach.com
With a European-style bistro menu with every individual item under $10, K’ya Bistro Bar is a
Laguna Beach local favorite. Don’t forget to come early for sunset at the
Rooftop Lounge and enjoy a famous mojito. Open for lunch and dinner.

The Loft

30801 S. Coast Hwy. at Montage Laguna Beach;949-715-6420; montagelagunabeach.com
If the ocean calls, try the roasted day-boat sea scallop with stewed white beans
and tomatillos with chorizo chips. Breakfast, lunch, intermezzo and dinner are served.

Madison Square & Garden Cafe
320 N. Coast Hwy.; 949-494-0137;

madisonsquare.com

Wind chimes and waterfalls make a lovely backdrop. Stop by for breakfast with your pooch and sample the ricotta pancakes flavored with lemon and ginger. Open for breakfast and lunch; closed Tuesdays.

Mosaic Bar and Grille at Montage Laguna Beach

30801 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-715-6420;
montagelagunabeach.com
While you relax poolside, check out the ultra-fresh seafood. Try the cheeseburger
or the mahi-mahi sandwich, and be sure to order a cocktail from the skillful bartenders.
Open for lunch, dinner and Sunday breakfast.

Nirvana Grille

303-101 Broadway; 949-497-0027; nirvanagrille.com
Select from Chef Lindsay Smith-Rosales’ numerous vegetarian dishes.
Open for dinner and brunch in the summer.

Sorrento Grille

370 Glenneyre St.; 949-494-8686; sorrento-grille.com
The rustic yet chic décor, fireplace, open kitchen and balcony dining
makes this a favorite. An oak wood-fueled grill perfumes steaks and seafood,
and the savory “small plates” menu is packed with craveable favorites. Open for dinner.

Sundried Tomato

361 Forest Ave.; 949-494-3312; thesundriedtomatocafe.com
The restaurant earned its name because of the cream of sundried
tomato soup topped off with gorgonzola cheese. Also try the blackened chicken spring rolls.
Open for lunch and dinner.

Tabu Grill

2892 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-494-7743; tabugrill.com
Check out the avocado and crab-stuffed yellowfin tuna—seared rare,
with grilled squash, zucchini, asparagus and red piquillo aioli. Tabu received
a Zagat food score of 29 out of 30—the highest food score in Southern California.
Open for dinner.

The Terrace

425 S. Coast Hwy. at the Hotel Laguna; 949-494-1151; hotellaguna.com
Come to the lounge for great jazz music every Friday and Saturday night.
You can also enjoy lunch, dinner or Sunday brunch in a casual setting
while soaking up views of the Pacific.

The White House Restaurant & Nightclub

340 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-494-8088;whitehouserestaurant.com
Try the jerked Jamaican chicken marinated in island spices, then charbroiled and served with
candied plantains. Open for breakfast and lunch, and home to some rockin’ reggae on Sunday nights.

Watermarc Restaurant

448 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-376-6272; watermarcrestaurant.com
Watermarc Restaurant features the largest menu created by owner
and executive chef Marc Cohen, including 26 different grazing plates.
Watermarc also offers 40 different wines available by the glass, half glass,
half carafe and bottle. Open for lunch and dinner.

 

Caribbean

Eva’s Caribbean Kitchen31732 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-499-6311;

evascaribbeankitchen.com
Featuring 365+ rums and speciality cocktails, plus Jerk Pork with
freshly ground allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, rum and lime juice; Scottish Salmon,
Aubergine Choka and Conch Fritters. Rum and chocolate pairings for dessert.
Open for dinner Tuesday – Sunday.

 

Chinese

Mandarin King

1223 N. Coast Hwy.; 949-494-8992

The honey walnut shrimp, as well as the Mongolian beef,
are the favorites here. A great place to get good, tasty traditional
Chinese grub. Open for lunch and dinner.

 

Continental

Dizz’s As Is

2794 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-494-5250; dizzsasis.com

This classic Laguna location offers international flavors, serving
everything from seafood to rack of lamb. For dessert, try the chocolate
praline mousse topped with tons of whipped cream. Open for dinner.

 

French

C’est La Vie

373 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-497-5100;

cestlavierestaurant.com

Check out the chicken divan crepes—chicken and mushrooms with wine cream sauce and cheese.
Known for fabulous dessert presentation, be sure to try the mango chocolate cake with a scoop of
chocolate ice cream. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

French 75

1464 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-494-8444; french75.net
This cozy Laguna mainstay with a fun and energizing
bar is always keeping it fresh with seasonal farm-to-table small plate selections.

Studio at Montage Laguna Beach

30801 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-715-6420;studiolagunabeach.com
A great view and seasonal tasting menus of many courses make Studio
a fine choice for a special occasion. Try the Dungeness crab leg risotto;
for dessert, the orange creamsicle ice cream is a favorite. Open for dinner.

 

Global Cuisine

raya

1 Ritz-Carlton Dr.; 949-240-2000

Chef Richard Sandoval presents Pan-Latin cuisine with fresh and organic
ingredients and sustainable seafood options, the amazing views come standard.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all served at Raya.

Sapphire Laguna Restaurant & Sapphire Pantry

1200 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-715-9888;sapphirelaguna.com
Chef Azmin Ghahreman offers an array of international flavors that you can’t
find anywhere else, such as the Hawaiian-style steamed mahi mahi with green onions.
Open for lunch and dinner.

Italian

Alessa

234 Forest Ave.; 949-497-8222

Owner Alessandro Pirozzi brought in a mozzarella and prosciutto bar as a
unique treat at his newest restaurant location. Open for lunch and dinner.

Gina’s Pizza

610 N. Coast Hwy.; 949-497-4421; 1100 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-494-4342; ginaspizza.com
The restaurants operate their kitchens much as Gina and her family did back
home in Sicily: start with the freshest ingredients, mix dough from scratch and
stir small batches of specially seasoned sauces daily. Open for lunch and dinner.

Pizza Lounge
397 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-497-2277; pizzalounges.com
The pizza dough is made fresh every day with a touch of honey.
Try the popular California pizza or experiment with the selection
of gourmet toppings. Open for lunch and dinner.

Polina’s Salerno Italian Restaurant

220 Beach St.; 949-497-2600
Family owned and operated since 1975, it’s dedicated to the locals with a
quaint atmosphere, hearty portions and moderate pricing. Choose from a
variety of Southern-style Italian dishes, from stuffed cheese manicotti to shrimp pomodoro.
Open for dinner.

Ristorante Rumari

1826 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-494-0400; rumari.net
The remodeled bar offers both specialty drinks and an extensive wine list.
Try the Filetto Rosolato Con Salsa Fresca—grilled filet mignon with fresh-diced tomato,
onions, cilantro, garlic and extra virgin olive oil. Open for dinner.

Romeo Cucina

249 Broadway; 949-497-6627; romeocucina.com
Authentic Italian cooking in a warm, personal restaurant. Daily specials
include happy hour all night on Mondays, 5 – 7 p.m. daily, and salsa dancing
on Saturdays. The tiballino is a favorite dish. Open for lunch and dinner.

Ti Amo Ristorante

31727 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-499-5350;tiamolagunabeach.com
This unique south Laguna restaurant is cozy and familiar, and shares in the town’s rich history.
Try the Linguine con Vongole di Ti Amo or the warm banana bread pudding. Open for dinner.

Z Pizza

30902 Coast Hwy.; 949-499-4949; zpizza.com
Gourmet specialty pizzas that can be modified, including
certified organic, gluten-free or wheat crusts and vegan cheese.
Open for lunch and dinner.

 

Mediterranean

Picayo

610 N. Coast Hwy.; 949-497-5051;picayorestaurant.com

Check out the filet of salmon wrapped and baked in a brick pastry with
artichokes, leeks and cherry tomatoes, served with risotto, vegetables
and a caper merlot demi-glace sauce. Open for dinner.

GG’s Café-Bistro

540-108 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-494-9306;ggscafebistro.com
Gyros are bestsellers. But before you dig into the gyro or kebab,
try the grilled calamari appetizer or some Turkish coffee.
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Ocean Avenue Brewing Company

237 Ocean Ave.; 949-497-3381; oceanbrewing.com
The downtown restaurant offers rustic Italian and Mediterranean
dishes in addition to its beer and specialty cocktails from around the world.
Open for lunch and dinner.

Zeytoon Cafe

412 N. Coast Hwy.; 949-715-9230; zeytooncafe.com

A market and café with unique blends of Mediterranean flavors.
The hummus is delicious and the flatbread and paninis are popular.
Open for lunch.

Mexican

Avila’s El Ranchito

1305 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-376-7040; avilaselranchito.com

Avila’s has a 40-year tradition of authentic Mexican cooking.
The Laguna Beach location offers indoor and outdoor dining
just steps from the beach. Open for lunch and dinner.

Coyote Grill

31621 Coast Hwy.; 949-499-4033; coyotegrill.tv

Freshly grilled mahi tacos are served with ripe vegetables
and a savory house salsa. The ocean thrills and a “no frills” menu
have kept this venue in business for 19 years. Open for lunch and dinner.

Laguna Feast

801 Glenneyre St.; 949-494-0642

Authentic and delicious Mexican food—try the pork chops or
shredded carnitas served with homemade rice and beans.
Open for lunch and dinner.

La Sirena Grill

347 Mermaid St.; 949-497-8226; 30862 S. Coast
Hwy.; 949-499-2301; lasirenagrill.com
La Sirena is devoted to serving great food made with organic,
sustainable ingredients. Some favorites include blackened salmon
and spicy chicken tortilla soup. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Las Brisas

361 Cliff Dr.; 949-497-5434; lasbrisaslagunabeach.com

The Sunday brunch is always packed—try the Filete Tierno de Res.
Open for brunch, lunch and dinner.

Olamendi’s

1100 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-497-4148; olamendis.com
Enjoy signature margaritas and ocean views. The restaurant has been in
Laguna Beach for 24 years and continues to take care of customers with the
same love and passion for Mexican cuisine. Open for lunch and dinner.

Taco Loco

640-1B S. Coast Hwy.; 949-497-1635; tacoloco.net
It’s casual, it’s close to the beach, and they have taco Tuesdays.
Open for lunch and dinner every day.

 

Seafood

The Beach House

619 Sleepy Hollow Lane; 949-494-9707; thebeachhouse.com

The Sunset Specials menu is separate from the regular dinner menu and is available from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. (daily), with reduced prices. Try the chicken marsala—twin breasts of chicken sautéed in marsala wine with mushrooms and capers. Open for brunch and dinner.

Claes Restaurant

425 S. Coast Hwy. at Hotel Laguna; 949-376-9283;     claesrestaurant.com

The ahi tuna is a favorite and the wine selection is a huge draw. Claes Andersen believes the cuisine should provide pleasure, and the wine happiness, which is a great combo in Laguna. Open for dinner from Tuesday through Saturday.

House of Big Fish and Ice Cold Beer

540-200 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-715-4500; houseofbigfish.com
This seafood-savvy neighborhood hot spot offers fresh
fish paired with an extensive beer selection. Try the macadamia
nut crusted mahi mahi with guava butter sauce. Open for lunch and dinner.

starfish

30832 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-715-9200;starfishlaguna.com
Flavors from all across the Asian continent meet in the same
kitchen at Starfish, including some of the most savory coastal
cuisine available. Dinner served nightly.

Seafood/Steaks

Mozambique Steakhouse & Coastal Lounge

1740 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-715-7100; mozambiqueoc.com
All prime steaks, seafood and chops are prepared over a wood-fire grill
using natural hickory and apple wood charcoal. Open for happy hour and dinner,
with world-class live reggae on Sundays.

Rock’n Fish

422 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-487-3113; rocknfishlb.com
Right out of Chicago or New Orleans, everything is cooked
over 100-percent American red oak, and Rock’n Fish specializes
in oak-cooked fresh fish and prime steaks. Open for lunch and dinner.

 

Specialty

Laguna Culinary Arts

845 Laguna Canyon Rd.; 949-494-4006;lagunaculinaryarts.com

The European-style café comes to life on Thursday nights featuring
flights of wine and cheese, along with a delicious selection of small
plates created by the chef. Happy hour Fridays feature wines by the glass and a buffet.

 

Sushi

242 Café Fusion Sushi

242 N. Coast Hwy.; 949-494-2444; fusionart.us

Chef Miki, who doubles as a local artist, mixes all kinds of
international flavors to come up with her creations. Don’t miss
the Laguna Beach Roll—or her artwork on display.

Hapi Sushi

250 Beach St.; 949-494-9109; hapisushi.com

Japanese-owned, Hapi Sushi is one of the oldest sushi restaurants
in Orange County. The restaurant prides itself on serving fresh, quality
fish served with a beautiful presentation.

katsuya

858 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-793-4030; sbe.com/katsuya

The newest and hippest kid on the sushi block, Katsuya brings its LA sensibilities
and flair to Laguna, serving up all sorts of fresh cuisine.

Mosun

680 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-497-5646; mosunclubm.com

For fresh fish lovers, it doesn’t get better than the Mosun B. Also try the
Bling Bling and on weekends, grab free entrance to the club upstairs. Open for dinner.

O fine japanese cuisine

30872 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-715-5551;ofinejapanesecuisine.com

O Fine offers scrumptious Japanese food and sushi, complete with
lunch specials, dinner entrees, and a sashimi bar. Lunch and dinner.

San Shi Go

1100-303 S. Coast Hwy. (upper level); 949-494-1551
Enjoy sushi at sunset with a panoramic ocean view.
Try the Blackflip, Laguna Sunset and seared salmon rolls. Open for dinner.

Thai

Laguna Thai by the Sea

31715 Coast Hwy.; 949-415-0924; lagunathai.com
Try the pad Thai—Laguna Thai’s traditional rice noodle
dish that blends shrimp, tofu, egg, onion, sprout and ground
peanut into tasteful bliss. Open for lunch and dinner.

Royal Thai Cuisine

1750 S. Coast Hwy.; 949-494-8424;royalthaicuisine.com
The curry dishes are very popular. Try the Kang Khiao Wan—green
curry with bamboo shoots, Thai eggplant and sweet basil.
Open for lunch and dinner.

Thai Bros.

238 Laguna Ave.; 949-376-9979; thaibroslaguna.com
Family owned and operated since 1994. Offering healthy Thai options,
and most dishes can be prepared vegetarian. Try the Pad Woon Sen with
crisp vegetables. Open for lunch and dinner daily.

Vegetarian

Zinc Cafe

350 Ocean Ave.; 949-494-6302; zinccafe.com
Be sure to check out the famous fresh salads, or entrees
like veggie pizza and lasagna. All three meals served daily. LBM


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