Michigan Cuisine: Enter the Pasty

If there is a more perfect food than the pasty, I have yet to find it. For those new to this culinary delight, a pasty is a type of Hot Pocket, only made with all-natural ingredients: a pastry shell filled with beef, potato, rutabaga  and onion. You season the filling with salt and pepper, then bake until golden brown.

Pasties are something of a Michigan delicacy.

The Aweomse Mitten-Michigan Cuisine
Photo courtesy of Brian Harsch

When Cornish miners came to work in the Upper Peninsula’s iron and copper mines, they brought their recipes with them, including one for a hot, tasty meal in its own handy carrying case. The mines might not have lasted very long, but the pasty proved to have much greater staying power. Michigan is still a great place to find a delicious pasty, and here is where to get the best ones.

Cousin Jenny’s Cornish Pasties
129 South Union Street, Traverse City, 49684

Hours: 7:00am – 6:00pm, Monday through Friday; 7:00am – 4:00pm Saturday; Closed Sunday

For the last 30 years or so, Cousin Jenny’s has been providing a hot lunch for the people of Traverse City. You can get a traditional pasty with steak and potatoes, but they also offer an Italian creation filled with pizza sauce, pepperoni, Italian sausage, and mozzarella; and a German-themed version with ham and sauerkraut in a rye crust. You can even get a “Bobby” – a breakfast variant filled with eggs, potatoes, and vegetables – and vegetarian options are also on the menu.

Jean Kay’s Pasties and Subs
1635 Presque Isle, Marquette, 49855

Hours: 11:00am – 9:00pm, Monday through Friday; 11:00am – 8:00pm, Saturday and Sunday

Brian Harsch, the owner of Jean Kay’s, is making pasties old-school style. His bakery started turning them out in the 1970s when the family business was in financial danger, and Harsch took pride in the work. They were successful enough that the business was saved and he was able to retire, but he soon missed the satisfaction that the bakery gave him and has recently bought it back. Harsch makes his pasties with real steak (no ground beef here!) and choice potatoes. With winter creeping in, Jean Kay’s is a great place to get a hearty, stick-to-your-ribs kind of meal on one of Michigan’s infamous freezing-cold days.


Photo from Wikimedia
Kaleva Cafe
234 Quincy Street, Hancock, 49930

Hours: 7:00am – 9:00pm, Monday through Saturday, 9:00am – 5:00pm, Sunday

The Kaleva Cafe has a long, storied history. There has been some form of dining establishment on the spot for over 100 years. Frank and Sandra Beauchamp reopened the Cafe in 2006 and are carrying on the tradition of a friendly atmosphere and home-cooked food. Their pasties are simple and delicious: stuffed with onion, rutabaga, carrots, potatoes, and beef, you can’t get any closer to the classic without a time machine. As an added bonus, you can get one for only $5!

Lawry’s Pasty Shop
2164 US Highway 41 W, Marquette, 49855

The most interesting thing about Lawry’s Pasty Shop is that they’ll bring the pasty to you! You can place an order online, and they’ll ship them frozen to anywhere in the country. You can even order some truly adorable mini pasties: bite-sized treats that are perfect for parties or family gatherings.

Pastry Peddler
619 Packard, Ann Arbor, 48104

Hours: Monday through Friday, 6:00am – 3:00pm; Saturday, 7:00am – 3:00pm; Sunday, 8:00am – 1:00pm

It seems fitting that there would be a great place to get pasties so close to the University of Michigan. Kathryn Loy comes from a long family of restaurateurs,  and is carrying on the family tradition with Pastry Peddler. With her self-taught wisdom, and the training she received from the French Pastry School in Chicago, Illinois, Loy is a force to be reckoned with as far as baked goods are concerned. Try a breakfast pasty packed full of sausage, cheese, and bacon, or the spinach and artichoke pasty with four kinds of cheese.


Photo from Wikimedia
Mr. Foisie’s
154 Leisure Road, Cadillac, 49601

Hours: 10:00am – 7:00pm, Wednesday through Monday; closed Tuesday

The idea of a meatless pasty might have been totally foreign to the miners that brought the recipe to Michigan, but Mr. Foisie is happy to serve some interesting vegetarian options. You can get a pasty filled with broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, rutabaga, onion, and sharp cheddar cheese for just under $5. Add $1.50 to that, and you can add chips and coleslaw (or a cookie!) for a hearty meal that won’t break the bank.

When you’re too cold to cook this winter, keep the classic Michigan pasty in mind. They’re well worth crawling out from under a blanket and venturing out into the snow for.

Brian Murray – Feature Writer

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One Comment

  1. You can get a pretty decent pasty in the Detroit area at a little take-out place called Barb’s Pasties in Clawson. Been getting them there for years! Oh, and you can get a nice carrot cake by the slice there as well.

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