Wrestlers, surprisingly enough, does not have a lucha libre theme. Toronto-based Mexican eatery and retailer La Tortilleria is behind this coffee/paleta/churro shop found below its Kensington Market location on Augusta Ave., so when I arrive there I expect to see luchador art and paraphernalia galore. Not so.
Instead, the subterranean space has that rustic industrial minimalist feel with Edison bulbs, three wood-topped communal tables and painted concrete floors.
Daniel, the store manager, tells me the shop's name has more to do with helping people "battle" the challenges of day-to-day life - with caffeine, sweet treats and a bit of alcohol - than what I'd initially assumed. Wrestlers also hopes to provide a space for patrons to get work done with free Wifi here, while offering a place to hang out and relax as well.
Fair trade, organic Mexican coffee beans are roasted in house daily (and given at least a day to de-gas). Customers can choose mild, medium or dark roasts for brewed beverages ($2.25-$3) with decaf an option, too. Cappuccinos and lattes ($4-$4.50) are on the menu, but they're still working on perfecting their straight-up espresso.
Beans for home can be purchased by the half-pound bag ($15) and Wrestlers will grind them for you if requested.
I try a mug ($3) of the medium roast and it has a strong roasted flavour. It's accompanied by milk (or cream or whichever non-dairy alternative you prefer) inside an adorable little single-serving glass container instead of on the condiment counter, which is a unique touch, but I wonder what they do if a person doesn't use it all.
Since Wrestlers is licensed, it offers a few alcoholic drinks. There's The Wrestler ($5.50), a hot, medium-roast coffee with Kahlua added, bottles of Corona ($6 each) plus a machine churning margarita and pina colada slushies ($6 each), which I expect will be popular summertime choices for drinking on the front patio shared with La Tortilleria upstairs.
Other chilled beverages include bottles of cold brew coffee ($4), horchata cafe ($4) - horchata with a shot of espresso added - and a variety of iced teas ($4 each), all made in La Tortilleria's Etobicoke headquarters.
My friend is a fan of the citrus iced tea, essentially an Arnold Palmer. It's light and refreshing, and served over ice in a Mason jar mug.
Treats-wise, there are a bunch of different paletas ($4 each) to choose from, made with real fruit and/or milk, whose flavours will change up regularly. During our visit, there's cajeta (Mexican caramel made with goat's milk), pistachio, rice pudding, coffee (of course), mango, blueberry (with bits of actual fruit in them) and a ton of others on display.
For an extra 50 cents, you can "add some fun" to the paleta and have half of it dipped in chocolate and then rolled in your choice of topping (or two, one on each side). Options include regular or roasted coconut flakes, peanuts, granola or Rice Krispies.
The possibilities are indeed fun to think about, but choose wisely; my roasted coconut and Rice Krispies combo is delicious with the chocolate, but overpowers the flavour of my rice pudding paleta. It's also a mess to eat as a lot of it falls apart as I bite into it, but I guess that's part of the fun.
There are also churros, which are deep-fried to order. They come plain ($1.75) or dusted in sugar and filled with cajeta or chocolate ($2), and like the paletas, you can "take your churro to the next level" with the same chocolate dip and topping options for another 50 cents.
Unlike most other places in the market, Wrestlers intends to stay open past 7 p.m., and will close even later in the summer, making it a great post-dinner dessert option. While it may not be promoting Mexican luchadores, I'm glad it's combating the dearth of night options in this area.
Photos by Hector Vasquez