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Completo

Completo began as a temporary alley stand serving up Chilean-style steak sandwiches and boxes of steak and eggs over fries at the El Gordo Food Court at 214 Augusta Ave. in Kensington Market last year. That food court has proven to be an incubator for many successful ventures that moved on to permanent spaces of their own ( Rock Lobster , Seven Lives , Rasta Pasta and Agave y Aguacate come to mind), and this South American-inspired eatery has followed suit, having moved across town to Leslieville .

Co-owners and friends Matias Balmaceda and Brett Williams opened Completo 2.0 this past summer in what used to be Le Matin Bakery , and already they've developed a loyal following in the area. On my first visit, a customer walked in and told the two owners she'd dreamt about eating there the night before, and the next time I'm there, another woman tells me she's been going in every day since they opened. Clearly this place is on people's minds, and it's addictive.

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It's a small space that has counter seating for about seven people, with exposed brick walls, high ceilings, an outdoor patio area and an open kitchen where you can watch Balmaceda and Williams prepare food while they banter spiritedly with each other and their customers.

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Balmaceda is Chilean, and although he mostly grew up in Toronto, he spent enough time in Chile to absorb the food culture there. Completo is named after a Chilean-style hot dog with toppings like avocado, mayo and diced tomato-cilantro salsa on it ($7, taxes included).

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However, the signature sandwich at the original stall in Kensington was the Churrasco ($9), a classic Chilean street sandwich containing thin slices of griddled steak (or pork or chorizo sausage) with mayo, diced tomatoes, mashed avocado, house hot sauce and roasted red pepper sauce, all on a toasted, crusty bun from Silverstein's.

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The popular boxes of naturally raised steak (or pork or chorizo sausage), two sunny-side up eggs and fresh-cut fries served with tomato-cilantro salsa and house hot sauce ($9) are also still here, but new additions to the menu were recently introduced, including loaded grilled cheese sandwiches ($7), house-made corn chips with dips ($6) and a tasty vegan chili ($4 small, $7 large, $1 for cheese) that's hearty despite being sin carne .

There are also Argentinian empanadas ($3.50) made for them by an old Argentinian lady. "They're made with hate," they joke, trying to eschew the cliche of the sweet little old lady lovingly making baked goods at home.

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Tacos are another new offering, and were inspired by memories Williams has of being a gringo growing up in the Mexican - although, arguably, more Tex-Mex than authentic Mex - restaurant his father owned in small-town Port Hope. ("More like Port Desolation," Balmaceda jokes.) Three hard-shell tacos ($9 with meat, $8 for veg) are filled with your choice of steak, pork, chorizo or a house-made veggie patty along with refried beans, mashed avocado, house hot sauce, shredded cheese and tomato-cilantro salsa (they'll leave the cilantro out though if your genes make it smell like soap).

While Latin American food usually has a reputation for being meat-centric, Completo has a lot of veggie- and vegan-friendly options. There's a surprisingly substantial veggie sandwich ($8) that contains a patty made from black beans and chickpeas that's grilled and then deep-fried, topped with mayo, diced tomatoes, mashed avocado, pea shoots, sunflower sprouts and house sauces, all served on a toasted bun. All veggie options can be made vegan, and there are gluten-free buns available as well.

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Williams notes that their full menu is also available at Hitch , just down the street on Queen St. E. The bar doesn't have a kitchen, and Completo doesn't have a liquor license, so they're a perfect match for each other.

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Photos by Jesse Milns.


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