Gram’s Pasties makes it well known that it is “Readers Choice” top-voted pasty. In my original visit (2016), according to the sign out front, that award was given to Gram seven times. As of 2019, that award is up to 10 times.
Of course, it’s not mentioned that the award is from Escanaba’s Daily Press where the main competition is Dobber’s… and that’s about it. On a wider scale, Gram’s failed to make the Top 10 in a vote at USA Today for best pasties in Michigan.
So how does Gram rank for the Pasty Guy?
Another shop found off US-2 as part of The Pasty Trail, Gram’s is smack in the middle of Escanaba. And there’s no doubt they love to market themselves. From the sign out front to t-shirts for sale and any other kind of paraphernalia that isn’t out of the norm in the Upper Peninsula, Gram’s has it.
While that’s true, the multiple times I’ve visited Gram’s, the customer service hasn’t been the best. Maybe I’ve arrived too early in the morning for anyone to be excited about pasties, but the disdain for customers has been noticeable on every visit.
Gram’s was established in 1984, but it should be noted that it hasn’t been under the same ownership the entire time, so that could play a part in some of my criticism.
Gram’s is a normal U.P. pasty shop, outside of the array of options available. The menu lists Ham & Cheese, Taco and Breakfast among other things such as Sloppy Joe’s, burgers and hot dogs. They even went as far as creating fruit-filled pasties. I’ll pass.
Pasty-wise, the disappointment was immediate for me. The crust just didn’t have it, probably because of the lack of lard. It was noticeable from the first bite; it was too chewy and too dry without much flakiness.
The faux handle (see photo) had zero crispness and it was too doughy, but hey, I’ve had worse.
With a better crust, it could be one of the better ones because the inside had all the essentials, most importantly a good ratio of meat to potatoes. The cut of meat wasn’t anything to get excited about, but it did the job.
For some reason Gram’s had three different hot-and-ready options for a beef pasty: regular, with rutabaga, and with rutabaga and carrot. I went with the rutabaga option, which should be the normal one in my opinion.
Overall, Gram’s has a good, solid pasty. It’s not over the top in any category, but it tastes good and that’s kind of everything you want, as long as you don’t want your expectations for a pasty blown out of the water… in this case it’s Lake Michigan.
Also, a Pasty Guy essential, no additives were needed. Congrats!
To note, Gram’s online marketing is a bit off. The picture on Michigan.org is NOT from Gram’s.
2021 Update: I was maybe kind of harsh in my original review, as these are solid pasties. I added a half point to the original score, so it’s now 15. The crust was still iffy, but the insides were great and I enjoyed it thoroughly.
Taste: 3.5 (out of 5)
Crust: 2.5 (out of 5)
Pasty Presentation: 4 (out of 5) It looks pleasing, right?
The Shop: 3 (out of 3)
Would I come back for Pasties?: 2 (out of 2)
Total Pasty Rating: 15 (of 20 points)
(Reviewed Summer 2016, Revisited Winter 2021)