Chicken and Guns isn't just a food cart, it's a whole damned ecosystem.

Located in the Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard Cartopia pod that invented the Portland food cart, our 2016 co-Cart of the Year makes wood-grilled Latin-inspired chicken with sauce like crack—a crispy-skinned, tender-fleshed bird laid on top of fried potatoes laden with bits of char, whose crisp edges are covered with a jalapeno-vinegar sauce that stuns the senses.

The little cart churns through up to 750 whole chickens in a week from Scratch Farms, a free-range chicken operation whose farmer owns part of Chicken and Guns and vice versa. And Guns uses that same Scratch chicken on their new smoked wings, seasoned and charred to perfection and smothered in a riotous lacto-fermented habanero sauce that rivals the green stuff on the potatoes.

(Rachael Renee’ Levasseur)
(Rachael Renee’ Levasseur)

But if for some reason you skip that heavenly-textured potato side in favor of a healthy salad, those ridiculously fresh greens will come from cart co-owner Todd Radcliffe's Basan Farms near Mulino. There, he and his wife also raise the free-range chickens that lay the rich, farmy eggs you can order sunny-side up atop your potatoes.

Between those two farms and the cart, Chicken and Guns is a self-contained food utopia—one they plan to expand out to brick-and-mortar locations around Portland. "It started off as a pipe dream, but things just kind of fell into place," Radcliffe told WW this summer. "We had the momentum. We're going for it."

Chicken and Guns, 1207 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 503-234-7236, chickenandguns.com. 11:30 am-1 am daily. $.

Pro tip: Next to the chicken cart, Chicken and Guns co-founder Dustin Knox now has a nice little cart called Bottle Rocket with beer (and great burgers.) Pick up a bottle of Pfriem Pilsner to pair with your chicken.