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Petite Peso’s family-style meal.

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A Prominent Filipino Chef Starts Her Dream Project During the Pandemic

Check out chef Ria Barbosa’s brand new Petite Peso, now open in DTLA

Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

This is restaurant life now: Face coverings, takeout and delivery only, and empty Downtown Los Angeles streets. It’s far from ideal for anyone, but chefs and restaurant owners have always been a resilient bunch. Just ask Ria Barbosa.

Barbosa is a longtime Angeleno who has spent years working in kitchens like Sqirl and Forage, and ran the culinary programs for multi-unit spots like Go Get Em Tiger and Paramount Coffee Project. Now she’s doing her own project (along with partners Robert Villanueva and Tiffany Tanaka) with last weekend’s opening of Petite Peso, a surprise Filipino takeaway in the tiny former Ricebar space at 419 W. 7th Street. Ma’am Sir chef Charles Olalia vacated that address after four years back in May of 2019, and now after some twists and turns it’s in the hands of fellow Pinoy Barbosa, who opened last weekend despite the coronavirus times.

So far it’s been all hands on deck for what the Peso Hospitality group is calling their “soft digital opening” during the current pandemic. Villanueva has a background as a sommelier and front of house operator, Tanaka in business and marketing, and together the trio has been showing up daily to run the tiny space, bagging food, sorting delivery orders, and working with the compact kitchen staff to figure out all the kinks, just like any new restaurant.

Workers wearing masks handle food inside of a kitchen.

While the plan is to naturally expand hours, menu items, and more down the line, the COVID-19 crisis means staple Filipino flavors like sisig done as a salad with Mary’s organic chicken, or lumpia with pork or Impossible meat for the vegans out there. There are family packs too, filled with rice and pancit and adobo and kare kare. Pastries like ensaymadas round out the sweets side.

Petite Peso is now open, keeping daily hours from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., with delivery available via Postmates and pickup available by calling the restaurant, or through ChowNow.

Petite Peso. 419 W. 7th St., Los Angeles. (209) GET-PESO.

A masked worker in a purple hat handles food for delivery.
A hand rolls out dough on a small metal countertop.
A cardboard bowl of lumpia with sauce.
Pork lumpia
A leafy bowl of Filipino sisig on marble.
Sisig salad
A heaping bowl of Filipino kare kare on marble for takeout.
Kare Kare rice bowl
A single-serving pot pie with burned edges sits in a takeout bowl.
The pot pie machado
A cardboard takeaway box with Filipino noodles and a lemon wedge.
A barley and mushroom bowl sits in the middle of a crowded food table.
The bicol express
Two Filipino desserts on a metal tray, golden and ready.
Ensaymada and strawberry mamon
A team of restaurant workers stands, wearing masks, in front of their restaurant.
A group of restaurant workers stands in front of their new restaurant in Downtown Los Angeles.
The exterior of Petite Peso, the small Downtown LA restaurant.
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