Yesterday, we released our fifth-annual guide to the city’s best new food carts, The Oregonian’s exhaustive, completist attempt to find, chronicle and celebrate the best exemplars of the Portland’s signature contribution to modern American dining.

In the introduction to the survey, we mentioned that our top 10 list this year could easily have been a top 15, 10 or even 25. That wasn’t idle. By my count, the past year brought the best new crop of food carts since 2012.

I could talk about the meaty sandwiches at El Gato Tuerto, the potato-filled bolani at the Afghan Grill, the house tonics at all-vegan Juniper, the carnitas and cart-made tortillas at Chicharito’s, the cardamom chai chicken at Desi, the addictive cheesesteak at Monk’s Deli, the good bagels at Bundy’s, the Hawaiian barbecue from Koa, the falafel from Falafel House PDX or the Iowa-style fried pork sandwiches from IGPAY.

Instead, here’s a short looks at our runners up, the five carts I most wish I could have included in this year’s list. But stop: Before you go on, make sure you’ve read our guide to Portland’s best new carts of 2015.

  • Mis Abuelos: This barbacoa cart in Southeast 82nd Avenue’s expansive Cartlandia pod offers huitlacoche (corn smut), crisp buche (pig stomach) and hand-made tortillas. (8145 S.E. 82nd Ave., near the side entrance to the pod’s bar)
  • Sam’s Saj: Perhaps the best — and certainly the friendliest — of the dozen-odd new Portland carts specializing in shawarma, with well-seasoned chicken and lamb on cart-made bread. (Southwest 10th Avenue between Alder and Washington Streets)
  • Donut Byte Labs: Baby doughnuts in the style of Pip’s Original, only here with more outré flavors — try the Peanut Butter Cup and the Burnside Cream. (12 S.W. Fourth Ave.)
  • Mumbo Gumbo: Try the maque choux, the succotash-esque Creole/Native American mashup of corn, bell pepper, onion and tomato in a creamy sauce. (Southwest Washington Street between Ninth and Tenth Avenues)
  • 503 Burgers: Tasty burgers, tots and shakes from a cart in the Mississippi Markplace pod, conveniently near German beer bar Prost. (4233 N. Mississippi Ave.)

— Michael Russell

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