Generally speaking, a new bar opening in Portland isn’t exactly big news – it happens all the time. But when the bar owner is a famous local indie rocker…well, let’s just say lots of people are suddenly talking about a place called Poison’s Rainbow. The new bar was dreamed up and started by Isaac Brock, frontman for Pacific Northwest-based indie band Modest Mouse (Good News for People Who Love Bad News; Strangers to Ourselves).
In an unscientific survey conducted this week, half a dozen people told Lonely Planet some variation on “yeah, everyone’s been asking me about that place.” The buzz started well before its opening in mid-March, and now visitors to Portland can finally go check it out for themselves.
The bar replaces a well-loved dive called the Red Flag, which anchored the booze-and-food-heavy Northeast 28th Avenue for ten years before being forced to close in early 2017 after a substantial rent increase. In its new incarnation, the space has been streamlined and glossed-up a bit, with neon-lit, minimalist seating areas, lots of kitschy art, a vivid green bar and elaborate chandeliers. Brock masterminded all the décor, including some of the chandeliers and several dioramas he built that are now behind the bar. Rejected ideas for the bar’s name reportedly include Missionary Position and Trash Panda.
The food comes from Ranch Pizza, formerly a weekends-only food cart with an obsessively devoted local following; its thick, Sicilian-style sheet-pan pizza comes with a side of home-made ranch dressing, an idea some love and others have declared a crime against nature. (Ranch Pizza is also set to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant of its own in Northeast Portland this spring.) Poison’s Rainbow isn’t what you’d call a dive bar, but it’s certainly accessible; pizza slices start at $3.50 (€2.84), beer is $3-6 (€2.43 – €4.87) and cocktails all cost $10 (€8.11) or less (Brock invented a couple of them himself).
344 NE 28th Ave., open 3pm-2am Monday-Friday, 11am-2am Saturday & Sunday.
Words: Becky Ohlsen