From Joe’s Pasty Shop website: “This year, 2023 will bring big changes for Rhinelander Joe’s Pasty. Jess and Larry are relocating back to the UP and to their families. We will eventually be blending some of our menu into the Ironwood Joe’s Pasty Shop and hoping to have “Pop-Up” pasty dates in Rhinelander. Watch our webpage and FaceBook for updates.”
Anyone that owns the URL ‘ILovePasties.com’ is putting a big mark on its back. Then again, loving pasties and making great pasties are two different things. If their website was ‘IMakeTheBestPastiesInTheWorld.com’ I would have other questions.
Joe’s Pasty Shop is one of three Joe’s Pasty Shops (that I know of). The others are in Ironwood, MI and Butte, MT and none of them are related. This one is located in Rhinelander, WI, which is about an hour south of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Unsurprisingly, the owners are U.P. natives and one of their grandparents actually founded a pasty shop in Yooper Land.
Joe’s pasties are all about local ingredients. Whether it’s the meat and potatoes or the vegetable oil used, they are all found in Wisconsin and they even have a map in the shop that points out where every product comes from. My only gripe is that they advertise the pasties as a “Family tradition since 1946.” However, the shop has only been opened since 2003 and I’m not sure they should tout the pasty shop their grandparents started unless it’s the same general recipe, but hey, anything for the brand.
At a minimum, these pasties taste like pasties and that’s always a bonus. The crust has a good flavor, but the lack of a true handle keeps it from being a really good one. Their method is what I term the Horseshoe Crab because that’s what it looks like. The edges are perfectly formed and that’s kind of where the problem lies. In my experience with cooking their frozen pasties, the outsides got a little too crispy, while it took much longer for the insides to heat up. The lard in the crust makes it respectable, but the shape doesn’t help.
The insides taste like how a pasty should and while it’s filled with local products, I’m not sure how much that changes the flavor. The meat had a nice touch, though no pepper in the recipe was evident. The meat-veggie ratio was questionable at times, but I must’ve started eating on the wrong end.
Before visiting, it’s important to check out the hours as Joe’s Pasty Shop is only open at lunch time during the week and since it’s run by the two owners, isn’t open the entire day. They had a fire in 2017 and that’s why they only sell frozen pasties. That combined with the hours makes the pasties slightly harder to enjoy. But since Wisconsin is lacking pasty shops, having one that tastes like a real pasty is all that matters.
Taste: 4 (out of 5)
Crust: 3.5 (out of 5)
Pasty Presentation: 3.5 (out of 5)
The Shop: 2 (out of 3)
Would I come back for Pasties?: 1 (out of 2)
Total Pasty Ranking: 14 (of 20 points)
Reviewed Fall 2018