The business section in the paper a week ago Saturday Oct. 7) gave a pretty comprehensive account of new and upcoming places in the area. They mentioned the new chains of course (Cheeseflake Factory, Lemming's Stake Horse, and PF KaChing's) but it was Mama Lo's Soul Food Restaurant that was featured with a big color photo. They've been opened since last spring and serve BBQ, fried chicken, fish, black-eyed peas, chitlin's, and a great peach cobbler. 925 F St. in Chinatown.
Others noted were:
Lantana (Riverview center at Friant & Ft. Washington) has already received less than sparkling reports here, the mention in the article is focussed on their Ice Cloud seafood platter ($60/120 for sml/lrg), lobster, colossal shrimp, jumbo Alaskan king crab legs, and fresh oysters with dry-ice on top to make it smoke.
Au Lac in the Tower District on Van Ness, probably in the little business area half way to McKinley since they mention the popularity with the FCC crowd. All vegetarian menu, meat-free and dairy-free happy burger (Au Lac = happiness in Vietnamese), lemon grass veggie chicken and garlic veggie chicken. Soy and whey based meat substitutes fill in for chicken or fish.
Wasabi, at First and Herndon also opened last spring serves OMG sushi rolls for 2-3 people.
Additional openings or about to open (chains omitted), listed by location were:
Fig Garden Village: Tomodachi Japanese Grill, Tien Ju Chinese, Pangea, and Belana. Pangea was written up in the paper early this year with a projected opening in late summer/early fall, that would have small plates fusion cuisine and wine flights.
Park Place (Palm & Nees): It's a Grind, Juice Zone, and Deli Delicious
Village at Granite Park (Cedar & Hampton Way): The Shack, southern BBQ and Cajun food.
Riverview (Friant & Ft. Washington): Flamenco Tapas of Spain and Bently's Bistro (Sakanaya, Star of Siam, and Dirty Olive have been open for a while)
In the article earlier this year Casa Mariani II was listed as taking over the Vitucci's space at Herndon & Cedar with Chef Tony Mariani (from Bari) and wife Marlena (daughter of Giulia Paolilli of Giulia's) dishing up southern Italian cuisine.
Visalia changes includeTommy's, the New York Deli, and Fugazzi's, one that sticks out and might be worth a try is Crawdaddy's of Visalia billed as Louisiana cooking, Main and Bridge streets.