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Star Chef Melissa Miranda and Friend Jeff Santos Revive Pop-up Collaboration

Musangtino’s, the snackier sibling to Miranda’s Musang, made a comeback at Fair Isle Brewing, and there will likely be more appearances in the future

A burger with a Painted Hills patty, pickled zucchini, onions, and mayo on a potato bun.
The burger at Musangtino’s is made with a Painted Hills patty, pickled zucchini, onions, and mayo on a potato bun.
Jeff Santos

Even with a full-fledged restaurant, one chef still hasn’t abandoned her pop-up roots. On Tuesday, January 26, Musang’s Melissa Miranda relaunched Musangtino’s, her Filipinx comfort food collaboration with longtime friend Jeff Santos, at Fair Isle Brewing in Ballard. And there will likely be more appearances to come.

On the menu to start was a variety of takeout-friendly snacks, such as a Painted Hills burger with pickled zucchini and mayo that Miranda says is an homage to childhood memories of the Yum Burger at popular chain Jollibee, as well as “Filipinx spaghetti that’s a less sweet version of what we grew up with,” topped with fried hot dogs and edam cheese. There was also ginataan, made with chickpeas, coconut curry, and vegan bagoong, plus tamarind-flavored chips. All the food sold out at Tuesday’s pop-up about a half hour before closing.

Musangtino’s made its debut back in 2018. At the time, Miranda and Santos, who once ran Kirkland’s Hawaiian lemonade stand Wow Wow and recently launched a toy company, served up their menu at venues such as Belltown’s Screwdriver Bar and the International District Night Market.

“My family and Melissa’s have known each other since before we were born,” says Santos. “Life naturally moved us in our own directions, and had not seen each other in years prior to 2018 ... I threw the idea at her about doing a fast casual concept of Filipinx inspired sandwiches. I knew the farmers market and events world with all we were doing with Wow Wow. We had what we believed was a solid menu and were off and running. Thankfully, we had a great reception.”

Meanwhile, Musang itself started out as its own separate pop-up with a series of brunches and dinners at Beacon Hill’s Bar del Corso, before a 2019 Kickstarter campaign helped spin it off into the current critically-acclaimed restaurant. Musangtino’s hit the pause button once Miranda’s restaurant opening effort was in full swing.

With Musang on winter break until February 3, there was some room in the schedule, and Fair Isle wanted to pull out all the stops for its one-year anniversary. But it looks like this won’t be a one-off event. Miranda says she and Santos may start a residency at Fair Isle with Musangtino’s, even when Musang starts service up again, and they are leaving the door open for more outdoor pop-ups this spring and summer, possibly adding some more items to the menu, including fried chicken.

“Musangtino’s when we first introduced it and just now with the latest pop up just allows us to connect more with different parts of the city and community so it’s definitely something that’s really fun for us as it offers a change of pace,” says Santos.

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