Hometown Hungers: Best Pasties Outside of Michigan
Score the greatest takes on the Great Lake State's signature hand pies without making your way to Michigan.
Photo By: Brandon Rodkewitz
Photo By: Eric Medsker
When miners from Cornwall, England moved to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula at the start of the state’s copper mining boom in the 1800s, they brought with them a food arguably worth its weight in gold: the pasty. This hand-held meat pie features a thick pastry crust that’s typically crammed with a simply seasoned filling made from beef, potatoes and rutabagas, then crimped before baking. Though it started off in the United States as a portable meal for Upper Peninsula miners, this hearty hand pie has since evolved into a popular snack that’s stuffed with any variety of fillings and served with condiments on the side. Whether you’re grabbing one to go or sitting down to dip it in ketchup, hot sauce or gravy, you can find a pasty worth pocketing at these Food Network-approved spots around the country.
Rocky's Pasties, Wharton, N.J.
So irresistible are the fresh-from-the-oven pasties sold at this takeout-only shop that customers can often be seen sneaking in a quick bite before driving off with their order. These hand pies stand out for their light, flaky crust made with beef shortening. The edges are pressed shut instead of crimped, giving the finished pie a distinctive look that differs from the traditional pasty. Customers can choose from three options for the fillings: freshly ground beef paired with potatoes and onions; sweet Italian sausage combined with potatoes, peppers and onions; or chicken mixed with potatoes, peas and carrots.
The Avenue British Diner, Miami
Chef Andy Bates got his start selling hand pies at street markets throughout London. His dexterity with dough earned him a legion of loyal fans even before he went on to star in the Food Network UK show Andy Bates Street Feasts. The chef has returned to his pie-making roots — albeit in sunnier climes — via pop-ups throughout Miami. Bates pays homage to his newly adopted hometown with a Cuban-inspired pasty. The chef piles braised mojo pork, sliced ham, mustard, pickles and Swiss cheese onto rough puff pastry, then folds, crimps and brushes the buttery, flaky dough with egg yolk before baking. Though first mistaken for giant empanadas by some customers, these savory pies are getting major love from locals.
Kells Irish Restaurant & Bar, Seattle
This family-owned pub offers a menu of Irish-accented comfort food favorites, including several popular pasty options. The Irish influence shines through most brightly in the best-selling Corned Beef Pasty. Corned beef and shredded cabbage are brought together in this satisfying riff served with stone-ground mustard gravy. A cup of creamy clam chowder pairs perfectly with this pick. Other pasty options include a chicken-and-mushroom combo topped with tarragon sauce, as well as a seafood version brimming with a bounty of local crab and shrimp.
Cornish Pasty Co., Tempe, Ariz.
A passion for pasties started early for Dean Thomas, who admits to eating at least five a week when growing up in Cornwall, England. When he first opened his pasty-centric operation in Arizona, he only offered traditional options like The Oggie stuffed with steak, potatoes, onions and rutabaga. But Thomas soon got experimental in the kitchen, creating dozens of new combos. Options now include the British Chicken Tikka Masala crammed with a creamy tomato curry and The Royale With Cheese that’s shot through with bits of bacon and fries. Thomas has even managed to pull all the flavors of a traditional British meal into the Roast Dinner pasty, which features shaved beef, candied carrots, Brussels sprouts, potatoes, cheese sauce and rutabaga mash all wrapped up in a flaky crust.
Crown & Anchor, Las Vegas
No matter how late your night in Sin City gets, you can always score pasties and pints at this 24-hour pub. Crown & Anchor’s pasty starts with a buttery crust that’s heaped with a classic mix of ground beef, sauteed vegetables and potatoes, then folded, crimped and baked until piping hot. Mashed potatoes (or French fries) and a side of peas round out the plate. It’s the perfect fuel for partying the night away.
Tea & Sympathy, New York City
The quirky mismatched teapots and cups vie for table space with finger sandwiches and scones at this tiny British-style spot, but those in the know always make room for the Cornish pasty. Its distinctive filling features ground lamb and diced potato, along with herbes de Provence, Worcestershire sauce and English mustard powder, all sealed inside a buttery shortcrust pastry. You can order it solo, or add a green salad and a side of mashed potatoes or English-style baked beans. Pair with a pot of tea for lunch or a cider at suppertime.
Potter’s Pasties and Pies, Minneapolis
When husband-and-wife team Alec and Fiona Duncan met, it was love at first sight. And when they introduced their pasties to the Twin Cities via a mobile food truck, locals were similarly smitten. The operation has since expanded to a takeout-only storefront and an array of pasties that riff on the typical recipe, including weekly specials that rotate with the season. One popular pick, The Traditional, sticks close to the pie’s roots. Its lard-based crust, which took over six months to develop, has the ideal flakiness-to-durability ratio able to stand up to the pound of beef-and-veggie filling stuffed inside. Homemade rosemary gravy adds an extra punch of flavor.
The Pure Pasty Co., Vienna, Va.
Owner Mike Burgess believes that any dish can be turned into a pasty, as evidenced by his shop’s innovative menu. Unexpected riffs like Chicken Cordon Bleu and Moroccan Lamb go well beyond the basic pasty recipe. Burgess also showcases his culinary creativity with ever-changing chef’s specials like a Reuben-inspired pasty stuffed with corned beef, sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing. The best-selling Traditional Beef, however, stays true to the dish’s origins. Burgess makes the filling from grass-fed beef, russet potatoes, Vidalia onions, carrots and black pepper, then seals the mixture inside his buttery homemade pastry featuring six flaky layers.
White Gold Butchers, New York City
All the meat at this Manhattan spot is butchered in-house, with much of it showcased in gleaming display cases that beckon to hungry carnivores. A beef and red wine pasty is the perfect way to satisfy any meaty craving. To make the filling, beef shanks are braised in a mix of beef stock, pork trotters and red wine. Once the meat is fall-apart tender, the braising liquid is reduced to create a rich red wine sauce. The meat and sauce are folded with root vegetables like turnips, parsnips, carrots and celeriac, and the savory mixture is then stuffed and baked into a buttery crust. This pasty makes for a satisfying grab-and-go bite, but if you’ve got time to linger, eat in and pair it with a small glass of beer.