The last stop on our pasty tour was another 30 minutes north in St Ignace on US-2. Lehto’s Pasties has been an institution since 1947, it says so on the sign out front and obviously that’s a big deal considering how the road side north and south of this lonely outpost is littered with shuttered businesses like motels, gift stores and yes, lots of empty old pasty shops.
At “Famous Lehto’s Pasties” there are very few choices. A customer can order a beef pasty made simply with beef, onion and rutabaga in one of 3 ways: hot, cold or frozen. The shop on US-2 is open from May through hunting season 7 days a week, they open at 10am. This is what I think of as a hand pie, no frills, no plate, no need, it’s wonderful as it is. The ratio of beef to rutabaga is 3 to 1, onions are soft and prevalent, cut into large obvious pieces, they come close to dominating the pasty which I think is a good thing. The crust is light and flaky, the seam pinched on the ends and barely evident on the sides. This is a hearty, tasty roadside treat. No gravy needed here, “pop” is offered on the menu board, I chose a bottle of Minute Maid.
In review no pasty is the same on the Upper Peninsula. They are all served piping hot on a busy Friday at the edge of the big Labor Day weekend and the crust is as important to the whole as the rutabaga is to the filling.
When we headed East, back over the Mackinac Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere, we both agreed that getting a proper introduction to pasties was helpful but the next time we eat them, we will split one and leave it at that.