Welcome to my Global Eats Challenge in Toronto! Thanks for being here 🙂
The challenge? Eat as many cuisines as I can possibly find in the GTA (hint – there’s a lot). We may only have a few distinctive foods, but we overcompensate by compiling the world’s greatest culinary hits in a small, but annoyingly gridlocked area. I hope you enjoy reading about this journey as much as I will enjoy eating my way through it. Maybe you’ll find some hidden gems and tag along for parts of it too.
If you want more foodporn, you can also follow along on Instagram and TikTok. And if you want fresh content in your inbox + some exclusives, you can hop on the newsletter. I promise I’ll include extra reccos as a thanks for letting me invade your inbox.
Initially, I was wedded to the idea that the first country needed to be “splashy”. You know, like Jamaica, because TTC station patties are the daily fuel of the city and roti shops are as prevalent as Timmy’s. Then again, is Toronto known for a particular cuisine or is it moreso that EVERY cuisine has a chance to shine here? Dreaming of Chris Jerk’s famous jerk shawarma poutine, I went with the latter. Each country is a beautiful, leaky splotch in the cultural mosaic that is Toronto.
Neighbourhood: Toronto – Core
Chile, you are the arbitrary-but-still-ceremonial Stop Number One! I’ve had a few run-ins with Chilean food in Toronto, from Jumbo Empanadas in Kensington Market to homemade goodies from an internship colleague in Grade 12. I’ve long been sold that Chilean empanadas stand up to any others in Latin America, but knew little about the rest of the cuisine.
Completo got my attention because the name is a blackbox. Spanish for full or complete… do they just serve giant portions?? There began my foray into the world of Chilean street meats and sandwiches, one of which inspired this East Chinatown corner spot’s name.
Neighbours with an OG Chinese BBQ joint, Completo’s industrial chic look certainly makes it stick out. That doesn’t seem to be an issue for the owners, given the bold mural of its namesake on the exterior wall. But when we stepped in, it got a lot more cozy. The wire racks of empanadas, a lineup of Chilean wines and smiling staff greeted us with open arms, and we got straight to ordering.
The namesake completo is a loaded Chilean hot dog that originated in the capital city Santiago, but spread like wildfire across the country. It’s the kind of dish that makes post-clubbing the best part of the night. They take a classic all beef hot dog, and pile it sky high with salsa, mashed avocado, house hot sauce, mustard, ketchup and damn near half a squeeze bottle of mayo. My dad manages to find all food dry, but he wouldn’t dare make that claim here. While all the sauces blurred into a delicious goop, I was left wanting for more of the tender sausage. Only hide your sausage if it isn’t impressive, am I right? Also, toasting the inside of a bun needs to be a standard practice, please!
The second Chilean street sandwich we got was more up our alley, their classic grilled steak Churrasco. This time, the bun came toasted and the toppings remained relatively consistent – mayo for days, mashed avocado, diced tomato, hot sauce. The new addition was a delicious roasted red pepper sauce that kicked the flavour up a notch. The mashed avocado (NOT GUAC) contrasted perfectly with the smoky, well-spiced strips of grilled steak and the pops of red onion helped tone down the richness. We could have gone for a bit more steak in ours but regardless, we would come back for this sandwich anytime. Oh, and we gotta try their empanadas of course.
VERDICT: Satisfying street eats, unfortunately dialed back a bit from full on flavourtown.
UP NEXT: Our home on native land!
Follow along on Tik Tok and Instagram for all the foodporn! If detailed posts are what you fancy, sign up for the newsletter.