214 Augusta Avenue toronto

214 Augusta might be home to Toronto's best cheap eats

After 13 years, it seems 214 Augusta Avenue has finally hit its stride.

The food court with a house-like exterior and crowded entrance has re-emerged once more as the hotspot for Latin American foods in Kensington Market, and I'm hoping this time it stays like that for good.  214 augusta

The entrance to 214 Augusta can get cramped, with two slim entrances leading into the building. 

What began as a single-vendor building over a decade ago, now plays host to six businesses — some old, some OG — mostly specializing in Mexican cuisine.

214 augusta toronto

Pico de Gallo is one of the newer businesses to join 214 Augusta. 

It hasn't always been strictly Latin favourites here. Alongside the tacos and quesadillas, 214 Augusta has been home to other international fare like Korean at Kim's a la Cart and Kensington's first Persian restaurant, Ashpazkhoune

214 augusta toronto

All six stalls at 214 Augusta serve Mexican and Latin American cuisine. 

Those businesses, along with a handful of other Latin joints, didn't last long. Sitting in a small section dubbed as the Latin American quarter on Augusta Avenue, the international concept proved too broad for the food court's cramped little spaces. 

214 augusta toronto

La Chilaca Taqueria has the classic Mexican soda Jarritos in lime, mandarin, and pineapple flavours. 

According to Enoc Ramirez, who co-runs El Gordo Fine Foods with his cousin Alfonso Segovia (whose brother Leonardo owns Segovia Meat Market next door), 214 Augusta has found its strength in keeping the food options here regional, or at least continental. augusta 214 toronto

Casamiento fuses El Salvadoran and Mexican cuisine with its signature pupusadillas. 

"We experimented with a lot of different cultures," he says. "But everyone loves Mexican." 

For the past few months the food court — which is actually more of a food corridor — has been busier than ever. Equipped with a non-compete rule, vendors here are flourishing by serving what they cook best in a symbiotic space. 

214 augusta toronto

The food court at 214 Augusta is more of a food corridor, consisting of one narrow walkway lined with stalls. 

Head here on a weekend, says Enoc, and you'll find the place packed to the walls with customers travelling from all around the city to try 214 Augusta's cheap Latin eats. 

214 augusta toronto

The empanadas at El Gordo come with over ten options of fillings. 

El Gordo Fine Foods

There was a time when El Gordo was the only vendor selling out of 214 Augusta — until the empanada house got lonely and decided to open its doors to other businesses 11 years ago. 

The single offering at Gordo's is the Chilean empanada ($5 each), handmade and stuffed with 11 options ranging from classics like beef and cheese to more experimental takes like beef with olives and boiled egg. Find this stall up the small flight of steps.

214 augusta toronto

At Pancho's, churros are twisted into cones, coming with one or two scoops of ice cream and toppings. 

Pancho's Bakery

Making it through the five year hump, the purveyors of churros make a killing here with storefront real estate right by the window. 

To this day you'll see Pancho behind the counter, where he and longtime staff Victor serve up freshly fried churros: the crispy, sweet sticks of dough stuffed with your choice of fillings like dulce de leche or chocolate are three for $5. 

These churros have made their way into the hands of Prime Minister Trudeau and the president of Germany. They can also be skillfully twisted into magical shapes like loops or cones topped with ice cream.  

214 augusta toronto

Traditional Mayan food is rare to find in Toronto, but Ko'ox Hana has a whole menu of it at 214 Augusta. 

Ko'ox Hana

Pork is a staple in Mayan diet, hence why much of the menu at the food court's other frontal stall consists of grilled pork, which is pulled. 

Here Lucy Novelo and her family specialize in Mayan home-cooked meals (one of few to do so in the city) like Pac Chuc, pork marinated in orange sauce.

They also serve classic Mexican breakfasts like Chilaquiles Verdes, crispy tortilla chips doused in green tomatillo sauce. 

214 augusta toronto

Tacos at La Chilaca Taqueria come in a box with lime wedges and are made fresh to order. 

La Chilaca Taqueria

Hailing from León, 22-year old Augustine Morales brings a taste of his hometown to Kensington with a menu of burritos and tacos, most notably the chilaca taco ($5), a green pepper served on flour tortilla.

Stuffed with cheese and your choice of meat, the chilaca isn't too spicy for anyone looking to try something new. Couple it with a bottle of your favourite Jarritos flavour and you have an ultimate takeaway snack. 

214 augusta toronto

The ceviche at Pico de Gallo comes with fish, scallops, and pico de gallo sauce. Add shrimp for an extra $1. 

Pico de Gallo

Perhaps the hippest option in this food court, this stall has more bowled foods than its counterparts. Traditional Mexican street foods like esquites (corn salad) and bowls of beans, rice and protein are available here, as are tortas and tostadas.

The standout here, however, might be the ceviche: the last thing you'd expect to be delicious in a crammed food court. For $10 you get a bowl of delicious seafood and chips that surpasses other restaurant offerings. 

214 augusta toronto

The pupusadilla has the shell of a Mexican quesadilla and the fillings of an El Salvadoran pupusa, 

Casamiento

The final stall closest to the back, this corner business is doing something no one else is doing at 214 Augusta, or in the city, for that matter. 

Fusing two Latin American staples together, chef Rene Rordriguez takes a leap by using the shell of the Mexican quesadilla (handmade from Ontario corn) and fills it with the common stuffings of an El Salvadoran pupusa. 

It's super simple and not as complicated or risky as it sounds, coming  served on a tray with salsa and a side of curtido, the Central American pickled relish side. 

214 augusta toronto

214 Augusta has seating in the back of the building plus a sink to wash your hands post-meal. 

It's not a food court without some seating options, so 214 Augusta has generously provided patrons with three tables in the back for an ultra casual nook to eat if you don't want to take it outside. There's also a sink available here, since you'll inevitably be eating with your hands. 

The real move, however, is to take your meal to the back patio, if weather permits. Eating off of green plastic cloth-covered tables, surrounded by street art, 214 Augusta's patio is definitely one of those urban gems you'll keep going back to once you've discovered it.

214 augusta toronto

Lead photo by

Tanya Mok


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