First Look

Rainbowcat: Chef Misti Norris Blends Comic Books, the '80s & Food in New Concept

A porchetta McMuffin at a Rainbowcat pop-up
A porchetta McMuffin at a Rainbowcat pop-up Lauren Drewes Daniels
Misti Norris, the James Beard-nominated chef at Petra and the Beast, is dabbling in a new project. Rainbowcat is a combination of two of her favorite loves: food, naturally, and an artsy subculture that involves comic books, graphic novels and collectible vinyl toys.

Norris debuted the concept the Tuesday before Christmas with a pop-up at Midnight Rambler downtown where she and a small crew took over the back bar and turned it into a makeshift kitchen. Mixologist Gabe Sanchez was the always-gracious host while Norris served diners an eclectic menu of childhood memories.

“This is something I’ve wanted to do for more than five years," Norris says. "Ideally, it will end up becoming a brick-and-mortar that is a comic book store where we sell graphic novels and vinyl toys and also have designers come in.”
click to enlarge The unicorn dog - LAUREN DREWES DANIELS
The unicorn dog
Lauren Drewes Daniels
Norris envisions that when Rainbowcat comes to full fruition it will have a "sparkly bar" serving great noodles and eclectic bar food — things like the unicorn dog, which is a sticky rice bin seasoned with shiitake powder and sesame, smoked pepper sausage, hot mustard, mushroom mayo, pickled peppers. There's also a porchetta McMuffin made to resemble the McDonald’s classic, only Misti Norris-style (photo at top).

“Very almost game-centric,” Norris says of this concept, which will lean on '80s pop culture. “Things that bring you back to when you were a kid playing Mario and eating Cosmic Brownies.”

The vibe and theme of Rainbowcat also delves into a world of subculture art, books and music.

“I collect graphic novels, and I’m a collector of vinyl designer toys. I don’t even know how many I have at this point,” she says, although she estimates more than 1,000 when pushed. “There’s a whole subculture of designers around the world that make resin toys essentially. It’s more of an art piece than a toy.”

Norris says finding the right home for this concept will be essential. She’s would like a space with a backyard where she can host private shows and have different artists come in and create; an underground subculture of art, music, books and food.

“It’s essentially an extension of another part of my personality. I love food, but I also have this whole other side where I collect things,” Norris says.

In terms of the menu, they have the basics worked out (including the unicorn dog and porchetta McMuffin) but will continue to develop other items at future pop-ups. “It also may depend on the venue. Like there were certain things we wanted to do at the Rambler, but we needed more cooking area. So if we go somewhere else and have a full kitchen we can go all out.”

They’re working on the details for more pop-ups soon. Follow the Rainbowcat Instagram page for details. 
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Lauren Drewes Daniels is the Dallas Observer's food editor. She started writing about local restaurants, chefs, beer and kouign-amanns in 2011. She's driven through two dirt devils and is certain they were both some type of cosmic force.