A Taste of the Upper Peninsula (Zodiac Party Store) holds a place close to the Pasty Guy’s heart. It was the first pasty I experienced and was always the shop of choice for the Pasty Dad. But as time went on and the family branched out, it was slowly realized that Zodiacs wasn’t the best pasty available.
The Pasty Guy may not exist without Zodiacs and that’s about all the credit it deserves these days. The shop has gone through different owners over the years, but the pasty remains mediocre.
If you’re coming south from the Lower Peninsula, which most people are, Zodiacs is the first pasty shop after the bridge. Get onto US-2 West and the Party Store will be on the right side after only a minute, just past the famous Clyde’s Drive-In. And maybe that’s why it’s such a popular place, the proximity to the bridge and this video.
It’s a normal Party Store, while Taste of the Upper Peninsula has a little bit of everything from jams to fudge to… pasties.
Most of the time, they don’t have hot ones ready, so they’ll have to heat them up before you can enjoy one at the shop or on the road. It remains to be seen if that makes the pasty worse, but for the pasty that this review is based on, the crust was bad at best. It was soft and flimsy and had a cardboard-ish flavor to it, which was the first turn off.
Unlike other places, Zodiacs uses roast beef in the traditional pasty, one of the few highlights. They can be commended for being different and it mostly worked out.
As another positive, the ratio was good with plenty of meat, as well as noticeable carrots and rutabaga in with the potatoes. Another cooking issue was that the potatoes turned into mash making the pasty feel more like a pot pie than any other pasty I’ve experienced.
To make it better, the crust needs a little more flakiness and less flimsiness with the insides needing more flavor. But after years of having these pasties, there’s no reason to believe they’ll ever truly be worth it.
At the least, dryness wasn’t a major issue like some previous versions, meaning ketchup surprisingly wasn’t needed. Then again, it probably would’ve made it better. The same can be said for gravy.
And per usual, someone on Yelp made an outlandish claim that this is the best pasty ever. Joe T from Auburn is alone with his opinions.
Update: Nothing has really changed with these over the years. They apparently never have them fresh, though maybe that’s different in the summer. In the winter, they pop them in the microwave so the crust is flimsy and mushy. The best part of these pasties is probably the steak.
Taste: 2.5 (out of 5)
Crust: 1.5 (out of 5)
Pasty Presentation: 4 (out of 5)
The Shop: 3 (out of 3)
Would I come back for Pasties?: 0 (out of 2)
Total Pasty Rating: 11 (of 20 points)
(Reviewed early Winter 2017, Revisited Winter 2021)