Sure, the pasty is considered a U.P. delicacy. But just because they’re a staple north of the border doesn’t mean you have to go there for a good one. The traditional pasty, derived primarily from Cornwall in the United Kingdom, is a concoction typically of ground meat, potatoes, and onions – sometimes with rutabaga or carrot added – tucked inside a flaky, crimped crust, and baked. They became a handy, nutritious, and easy-to-eat meal for miners, who could keep a pasty warm all day in its wrapping and either have it for lunch or nibble it throughout the day. When Michigan’s Upper Peninsula mining industry boomed, miners from the U.K. came with their families to work the mines and brought their recipes with them. To this day, the pasty is essentially a “signature dish” in the U.P., but our own state can claim some pretty darn good places to get one, too. Here are six places in Wisconsin you can get a hot, fresh pasty – one of our favorite comfort foods.
Joe’s Pasty Shop has been at it since 1946, making it one of Rhinelander’s most beloved stops for travelers. They definitely love pasties; their website is ilovepasties.com, after all. Joe’s is open for takeout only, and you have to go to their back door by Courtney Street to place and get your order. Their pasty dough is made with freshly rendered lard from local pork, and they have a whole wheat option made with Wisconsin sunflower oil. Along with the traditional pasty, they have the Cornish version (which adds rutabaga), plus varieties like Reuben, Pizza, Chicken Cordon Bleu, Southwest Chicken, Bacon Cheeseburger, and a Breakfast version with eggs, ham, bacon, cheese, and spices.
Joe’s is in downtown Rhinelander, so take local streets in from U.S. 8 or Highways 17 or 47 to get there!
Our State Capitol dominates the view from Teddywedger’s the way their pasties will dominate your taste buds. Teddywedger’s started up back in 1976 on nearby Johnson Street before moving to the edge of State and Mifflin Streets abutting the Capitol Square. The unique name is somewhat of a portmanteau: “Teddy Boys” was a frequent nickname for the mine workers, who loved pasties for lunch, and the nickname they had for their meal: “Tater Wedges” – hence, Teddywedger’s.
Their Traditional Pasty uses ground steak, potatoes, and onions (the debate about rutabaga continues) and a spicy variation that adds jalapenos along with mozzarella. They also have a Big Cheese, stuffed with mozzarella and Marinara; a Chicken Pot Pie pasty; and one filled with sweet potatoes with southwestern ingredients like corn, black beans, chiles and peppers. Their Breakfast Menu, available until 11am, adds eggs to their southwestern version, as well as a corned beef and hash version and a more traditional breakfast of eggs, bacon, and cheese stuffed inside the pasty crust.
To reach Teddywedger’s, head to the Capitol via U.S. 151 (East Washington or West Washington Avenues) and just keep going until to get to the dome. You can’t park on State Street, but you can at locations on the square or the myriad of streets that intersect around there.
Sometimes also called “Reynolds Northern Pasties,” this shop has been in the heart of Milwaukee’s northwest side neighborhood since 1956. They’ve parlayed their business into frozen offerings you can purchase at grocery stores across the state including Pick N Save locations, Festival Foods, Sendik’s, Copps, Sentry, Piggly Wiggly, even some Citgo and BP gas stations. But why not enjoy them hot and fresh at the source when you can? Reynolds doesn’t use rutabaga in their traditional pasty, but they do add carrots. And they stick with that as their prime offering. They do have a variety of “add-ons” from the popular gravy and ketchup sides to jalapeno peppers, hot sauce, sour cream and butter, and a carrot-onion mix to augment this “meal in itself.” If you’re up for dessert they also have a good pecan pie and apple turnovers.
Reynolds is right where Highway 145 (Fond du Lac Avenue) meets 35th and Burleigh Streets, forming a triangle in which you can park.
This unique, rocky location right along U.S. 45 in Tigerton is adorned with unusual and oft-decorated rocks both inside and out – over 400 unique rocks and counting. Some are for sale – check the prices! Oh, and the pasties? They bake up over 30 varieties, most with their blend of “21 herbs and spices.” They Traditional and Rutabaga, Chicken, and Twin Cheezy Dogs, which are truly two weiners wrapped in American cheese and baked inside that pasty crust. Other varieties include Cabbage, Veggie, Tuna, BBQ Chicken, varieties of “Scramblers,” even one stuffed solely with sausage gravy inside the crust. Remember we mentioned Tuna? They also have a Fillet of Baked Fish variety, which includes rice and cheese; Spaghetti & Meatball; a Picnic Pasty that includes baked beans; Reuben, Ribs, Stuffed Green Peppers, and more. It’s a crazy selection, but their tried-and-true traditional are among the tops anywhere. They’re open from 6am to 5pm except Tuesdays; they’re also open by appointment.
The Red Brick Inn is known for pasties; they housed “Cussin’ Jack’s Pasties” for a long time and now they’re just called Red Brick Pasties. Housed in a large, historic brick building along Niagara’s main drag, the Inn itself has an extensive menu but their pasties are considered – along with pizza – their specialty. They keep it simple with one option: the Traditional, a meat-filled pasty with optional gravy and/or coleslaw. Ketchup is available, of course, by request. They’re open every day from 6am – 10pm, right along U.S. 141, with the Menomonee River and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula beckoning just behind the building.
Located in back kitchen of the Four of a Kind Bar & Grill, the Sheboygan Pasty Company is newest on our list, having just opened in January, 2021. The owners are tapping into the U.P. heritage of their grandparents, striving for a strong “Yooper” experience. Open from 11am – 9pm, for now they are carryout only. Their Traditional pasty include rutabaga; they also have an Italian, a Sheboygan Pasty filled bratwurst (the city’s signature food), and a Veggie, which is their traditional minus the meat. It’s right in downtown Sheboygan near the Harbor District, just east of where Highways 23, 28, and 42 all meet – and end (or begin, depending on your perspective.) It’s about 10 minutes of I-43.
Remember, you can use the map at the top to find and navigate your way to any of these tasty places! Happy road tripping, and pasty-ing (if that’s a word…)