Joe’s Pasty Shop, Butte, Mont.
Where Interstate 15 meets Interstate 90, one finds the copper mining town of Butte, Montana, which has mining so entrenched in its history that its college, Montana Tech, is actually nicknamed the Orediggers. No, I didn’t make that up, that was one of the patsies on Idaho State’s hoops schedule.
Butte’s mining history also shows up in its signature food, the pasty. Basically, a pasty is a meat, onion and potato pie made out of necessity for the mining workers, who wanted a way to carry their lunch that wasn’t a sandwich. The dish originated in southern England, and many years ago, workers emigrated across the pond to Butte. Don’t ask me why they picked Butte. I know if I was coming from England, Butte would probably not be on my top 100 of places to live, but that’s me. I like cities.
Anyway, back to the pasty. Meat, potatoes and onions are cooked inside the pastry shell, which allows people to eat their hot meal and carry it at the same time. However, Joe’s has altered that with their version of the pasty. The pie is still the same mix of ground meats (it’s a mixture of beef and steak), potatoes and onions, but Joe’s takes it to the next level by adding cheese and covering the entire thing with chili.
What that means is that yeah, you can forget taking it with you and eating it on the run. But that doesn’t matter, because what you lose in portability, you gain in quality. Joe’s saucy chili and American cheese pairs so well with the flavors of the interior of the pasty that it’s a match that makes you wonder why the heck nobody thought of this before. The cheese melts on to the pasty to create that fantastic taste that is melted cheese. Plus, with the pasty’s shell surrounding the meat and vegetables, the really good stuff stays hot and fresh throughout your meal, keeping the temperature of lunch or dinner at an absolutely wonderful level.
Of course, you can still get the traditional portable pasty at Joe’s if you’re in a hurry and need to get the heck out of Butte quickly. And you can also go with something else if you just don’t want to have a pasty. But if that’s not the case for you, I highly recommend that you go with the additional toppings, take your time and enjoy a real taste of Butte, which might be becoming a more modern version of an American city now that it has two interstates going through it, but clings to its traditions and its signature dishes. There’s a reason that the pasty is considered the signature food of the city where I-15 and I-90 cross and join for a few miles.
It’s because it’s just a genuine part of Butte, firmly intwined to the city’s history. Plus, it’s really good.
Time to go: Lunch or dinner. However, Joe’s does open at 6 a.m. if you happen to want a pasty for breakfast. Joe’s is closed on Sundays.
Wait during my visit: None. Butte is a town of 34,200 people. How it made it on to Man vs. Food at that size, I have absolutely zero idea, other than the fact that it has excellent food. What that means is that you are not going to be waiting long to find a table anywhere in this town.
Location: Joe’s Pasty Shop is located at 1641 Grand Avenue, near the interstate.
Parking: There’s plenty around here. It’s Butte. A small lot is all you need.
Cost: Pasties aren’t expensive. You’ll be out for under $10.
Website: None, although the city’s website does list the times and prices at Joe’s. Butte
Signature item: Pasties