In San Mateo, Pacific Catch is now open for business, presenting a seafood-based menu taking inspiration from the Pacific Rim. It's the fifth Bay Area outpost and first on the Peninsula for the San Francisco-based group. Start with one of the eight $11 selections of Hawaiian poke, or with Korean sticky ribs and one of the restaurant's creative sushi rolls (the Ecstasy includes albacore and ahi tuna, avocado and citrus chili glaze, with no rice). Larger plates include three types of seafood and chips, fish sandwich platters and pan-Asian rice bowls, and there's mochi fondue for dessert. Happy-hour deals and cocktails such as a deconstructed mai tai are a key part of the experience. Inside, you'll find a wood- and slate-dominated space with an open kitchen, rice-paper lanterns overhead and individual blue bottle lights to evoke an aquatic theme.
243 S. B St., San Mateo; (650) 558-1000, pacificcatch.com
The Peninsula's Szechuan dining scene continues to get hotter. The latest opening is San Mateo's Sichuan Chong Qing Cuisine courtesy of a chef originally from the province's Chong Qing region. Traditional Szechuan items make up a menu that has no shortage of spice, including mapo tofu, vermicelli noodles with minced pork, the region's cumin lamb specialty and spicy boiled fish. You'll also find various spicy hot pots and many vegetable options. Cream-colored walls and red tablecloths contrast with wooden floors inside the intimate small space.
211 S. San Mateo Drive, San Mateo; (650) 343-1144
Just in time for those sweet-filled New Year's resolutions, San Bruno has a new candy wonderland in Candy Talk. Children of all ages with a sweet tooth will have a hard time choosing among the dizzying array of options at this well-stocked candy store. The brightly colored candies complement the fairy-tale atmosphere full of more colors of jelly beans, giant jawbreakers and lollipops than you can count.
445 San Mateo Ave., San Bruno; (650) 553-9898
It's time to start making New Year's Eve plans. All Spice in San Mateo is presenting a standard and vegetarian tasting menu for $100, while Tamarine in Palo Alto will have a four-course prix-fixe menu for $80. For a midnight toast on the coast, Pacifica's Puerto 27 Peruvian Kitchen & Pisco Bar has two seatings for a carnival-themed celebration, complete with a live band, dancers and a Champagne toast. Here's to a happy and healthy 2014!
– 1602 S. El Camino Real, San Mateo; (650) 627-4303, allspicerestaurant.com
-546 University Ave., Palo Alto; (650) 325-8500, tamarinerestaurant.com
-525 Crespi Drive, Pacifica; (650) 733-7343, puerto27.com