Exceptional ethnic food is difficult to find away from its native land, unless it's made by the people who grew up eating those very dishes. Pasties are no exceptions, and the Butte natives who run Lisa's Pasty Pantry serve some of the largest and finest you're likely to find this far from the Berkeley Pit's golden shores.
What we're talking about: Southwestern Montana soul food brought by Cornish immigrants to feed the men toiling back in the day in Butte's underground mines. The pasty (pass-TEE) is a hand pie filled with beef, potatoes and onions, best eaten when smothered in brown gravy.
What it comes with: A cup of hot gravy to slather on the golden-brown crust. There's also a hearty side of coleslaw that, while delicious, does little to soothe the "Oh my God, I should be eating a salad" pangs of guilt that accompany any pasty dinner. Finally, a $8.95 meal at Lisa's includes a delicious fruit turnover that looks like the miniature frosted offspring of the main course.
Why you're eating it: Three possible reasons: First, because the savory carb-, protein- and fat-loaded dish fills and satisfies in a way that a veggie burger could never touch. Second, you need several days worth of calories in one sitting. Third, there's a vein of ore somewhere that needs to be dug up and smelted.
Bonus: In addition to the meaty original pasty, Lisa's offers a vegetarian option as well as teeny-tiny "cocktail pasties." All of these can be bought frozen and saved for another day.
Where to find 'em: Lisa's Pasty Pantry is located at 2004 West Sussex in Missoula. The small but cozy dining room pays homage to Butte's Irish and mining roots.
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