A Hotdog is not a Completo

Ask any non-Chilean what food amazed them most while in Chile and they are likely to tell you the “completo.” I have never seen this on anyone’s list of typical Chilean foods, but it should be. Literally Completo-250wtons of the things are consumed each year.

Para español, usa la herramienta de traducción o lee el resumen de abajo…

You might think this is a hot dog, but don’t be fooled. It may start out with the same basic ingredient (frankfurter or “vienesa” as they are called here”) but no self-respecting Chilean would ever eat it with just a squirt of mustard. No sir. A completo must be complete! That means ketchup, mustard, relish, chopped tomato, sauerkraut, pickled green chili pepper, gobs of avocado (palta) and an absolutely obscene amount of mayonnaise on a hot dog bun. A variation is the “italiano,” which is a hot dog topped with just chopped tomato and avocado.

You’ll find familiar looking squeeze bottles on the table. The yellow one is filled with runny, grainy mustard, and the red one is probably NOT filled with ketchup, but rather a thick red hot sauce, which many a gringo palate has discovered the hard (or rather the “hot”) way!!

Look for the popular “Dominó” restaurants that have been serving completos and other typical sandwiches since 1952 (downtown at 1016 Agustinas and on Huerfanos and Ahumada, as well as others around town). Or the famous Quicklunch in the covered corridor on the south side of the Plaza de Armas. In both cases are eaten standing at the bar.

For more about Chilean sandwiches, check out “Sánguches.”

And for more about the Flavors of Chile, see:  “Tasting Chile.”

Do you have a story about “completos”? Please let us know!



Un hotdog no es lo mismo que un completo. Básicamente podría serlo, pues consiste en una salchicha (o vienesa, como le dicen en Chile) en un pan alargado. Pero no. Los completos en Chile son verdaderamente completos. Pueden llevar, además de la típica mostaza o el ketchup, tomate natural picado, palta (aguacate), chucrut, cebolla, queso y enormes cantidades de mayonesa.

En las fuentes de soda, lugares donde se comen completos y sándwiches, siempre encontrarás tres botes: uno es amarillo, que tiene, evidentemente mostaza; pero cuidado con los otros dos. El rojo no lleva ketchup, sino una salsa roja de ají picante. El verde es el del ketchup.

La cadena de restaurantes Dominó es clásica y puedes encontrar muchos de sus locales en el centro (calle Huérfanos), así como en Providencia. El Dominó se especializa en muchas otras variedades de completos (con huevo frito, pimientos, etc.)

Ver también “Sánguches” y “Tasting Chile.”

¿Tienes una historia sobre los completos chilenos? ¡Cuéntanos!

25 responses to “A Hotdog is not a Completo

  1. Just wanted to add that another great place for completos is at Kali, to be honest, even the tostadas con palta, (toast and mashed avocado) are great there. The waitresses have been working there for ages, I personally know 2 of them, the owner, a Spaniard that arrived in Chile many, many years ago, is quite a character, loves to chat with everybody, makes you feel at home, sometimes has a “cortadito” with one or two customers-friends. I started going there when I was still going to school, a couple of blocks away from it.

    Visit it, you will enjoy the atmosphere and the service.

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  6. I went to Chile 10 years ago and all I can think about are those completos!

  7. Well c’mon back- they’re just as big and gooey as ever!

  8. You say: A variation is the “italiano.” which is a hot dog topped with just chopped tomato and avocado.

    But “italiano” is called in honor of the Italian flag. Therefore you forgot white. And white is (no surprise) mayonnaise.

    Foreigners should note that “completo” is short for “hotdog completo”. Some Chileans prefer to say “hotdog” instead of “completo”. For example “completo italiano” (25,000 times in Google, but some of them ar cars) is a contradiction for us purists, because an etymological “completo” needs mustard and even sauerkraut.

  9. Thanks again Pedro- you’re absolutely right- the Italiano version is named for the colors of the Italian flag and therefore the mayo must be included… but we knew that because, would a completo ever be a completo without mayo?
    In our house, I serve “incompletos”–the gringo version with mustard (a must) and optionals such as sauerkraut and relish… and NO mayo!

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  14. When we were living in Santiago in the mid-90s I always took the safe approach, by ordering everything ‘sin mayo’. An American friend ordered a turkey and avocado sandwich, downtown, with her ‘mayonesa al lado’ (on the side). The waiter repeated what he thought she had said. She was engaged in conversation and gave a him a quick ‘si’. Imagine her surprise when her turkey sandwich arrived with a vienesa on the side and her poor sandwich was slathered with the usual inch of mayo. This is the same gal who ordered ‘cafe con leche’ at the Blue Danube (the ONLY Chinese restaurant in town) and got her cafe with a small bowl of leechee nuts on the side.

  15. hahaha- from “mayonesa al lado” to “vienesa al lao”… I can just imagine your friend and the waiter staring at each other in disbelief!
    And I love the cafe con leeche! By the way- China Village is excellent!

  16. Hi Sandy,

    I read a in Chilean paper written in English (I forget its name) a very funny article in which the writer ordered everything “sin mayo”. For example “un chacarero sin mayo”, “una cazuela sin mayo” or even “un kuchen de frutilla sin mayo”.

  17. Probably not a bad idea… just to be on the safe side!

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  19. Please, please, please!!! As you LIVE in the nation named: CHILE, spell the vegetable THEIR way: Chile, and never Chili.

  20. Hi Mark- nice try, but the country Chile and the hot pepper chili are not related… although the country IS shaped like one, which in Chile is called an ají.
    So I’ll just stick with the standard distinction between the two…
    But I was curious about what was behind your request… I did a little googling around and found 19.3 million hits on “chili pepper” and just 2,060,000 for “chile pepper”…. hmmm… curiosity further piqued, I kept looking and started checking the Latin name (capsicum annuum) to see where it would lead… ultimately wikipedia, of course, where I finally found this:
    The original Mexican term, chilli (now chile in Mexico) came from the Nahuatl word chilli or xilli…”
    Which brings me to the question of WHY the campaign to change the spelling of the generic name for hot peppers to chile?? (I’m serious… I’m curious!)
    BTW- just checked your blog… cool concept!

  21. @Mark: I don’t get what you mean “spell […] THEIR way”. As a Chilean I prefer that you gringos spell what we call ají in a way it doesn’t get confused with our country: i.e. chili. Note that we (unlike Mexicans) never call Capsicum annuum as chile when speaking Spanish.

  22. Thanks for the back-up Pedro! Couldn’t agree more!
    PS- nice to see you back ’round these parts again!

  23. Hi Margaret,

    Nicely put. Let me add that I do not like these Chilean hot dogs and dearly miss the American variety. I do not understand the sentiment to put more mayonnaise that meat in a hot dog. If anyone knows where in Santiago I can buy a proper hot dog let me know. I want to buy the weiners, some paprika (assuming chili powder is impossible to find here), and cook a proper hot dog for my Chilean friends. I find the viensas here bland and without flavor. It’s like the aceitunas (olives with no salt or texture) here or queso blanco (white cheese). There’s absolutely no flavor. Give me a Ball Park frank please. ciao, WER

  24. @ Walker Elliot….I’m not sure what you mean by “no flavor”…you must be out of your mind because our Fruit and Vegetables in Chile are one of the most flavorfull in the world. Anywhere in Santiago you can buy a proper hotdog or completo – that’s how we do things…..there is no comparison between a completo and a hotdog from Dodger Stadium or 7-eleven, those suck! Maybe you should open up your palet and taste the great food Chile has to offer.

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