I can remember my first visit to the Cornish Pasty Co. It wasn’t in Tempe, Arizona but in Las Vegas, Nevada. Just as in Tempe, the Las Vegas location was hidden in a drab strip mall off the beaten path. When I walked through the doors from the bright Las Vegas sun into the dark and dimly lit restaurant, I wondered what I was getting myself into. At the time, even as a well-traveled foodie, I had no idea what a pasty was. But being an open-minded traveler, I took a seat at the bar and ordered a beer along with my first pasty. It was at this very moment I realized what I had been missing out on. The pasty was flaky on the outside while stuffed with delicious meats and vegetables on the inside.
Fast forward a few years. During my annual spring training road trip to Arizona, I learned of a Cornish Pasty Co. location in Tempe. Excited and hungry, I decided to visit this location on University Dr. before a game at nearby Tempe Diablo Stadium. Knowing what to expect this time, I walked out of the bright Arizona sun into the dimly lit restaurant. The food, the beer, and the people were just as great as I had remembered. From this point on, I have made it a tradition to return to Cornish Pasty Co. on my annual spring training road trips.
The Cornish Pasty
So you might be wondering, what is a pasty? A pasty or Cornish pasty is a traditional British baked pastry filled with an assortment of ingredients such as meat or vegetables.
The Cornish pasty originated in the county of Cornwall in South West England. Miners working in the tin mines of Cornwall often ate pasties cooked by their wives. These pasties were popular with the miners as they were hearty, filling, and easy to eat.
By the end of the 19th century, mining entered a period of decline. Searching for a better life, many miners left Cornwall for the United States, specifically the copper mines of northern Michigan. These miners brought with them the traditions and flavors of pasties to their new home.
One of my favorite things about Cornish Pasty Co. would be its unique décor. The contrast between the outside sun and the dark and dimly lit dining room with rock music playing in the background can come as a surprise. With the windows covered, I almost forgot the sun was up outside. With dark wooden church pews for seats, a red diamond carpet, black ceilings, and photos of miners on the walls, the place felt like an old English pub.
Running the entire length of the dining room was an impressive bar with plenty of space for a drink. This sleek and modern bar, with its industrial-style white chairs and bright hanging lights, lightened up the space and complemented the traditional décor. The space felt inviting, cozy, and welcoming whether you were on a romantic date, dining with a large group, or here by yourself to enjoy a drink at the bar.
If the dark and intimate interior isn’t your thing, then you can always grab a table on the expansive outdoor patio. The dog friendly patio had plenty of space and offered shade in the summer along with heaters for those cold days and nights.
Cornish Pasty Co. Menu
I know I say this often, but the menu at Cornish Pasty Co. really did have something for everyone. On the menu, pasty selections were separated into three sections: Signature Pasties, Premium Pasties, and Vegan & Vegetarian Pasties. While I am not vegan or vegetarian, I found their selection of these pasties to be impressive and I would not hesitate ordering one of them.
First time visiting? I always recommend The Oggie (The Traditional Pasty) made with steak, potato, onion, and rutabaga (swede). Another popular option was the Carne Adovada made with New Mexican style red chili stew, Mexican rice, hatch chili, and cheddar cheese. Other than the vegan and vegetarian options, most of the pasties included a protein such as pork, lamb, beef, chicken, or salmon. Want to take your pasty home and bake it yourself? You could for $9. All of the pasties on the menu, which were part baked, could be taken to go and finished at home in the oven.
If the menu wasn’t large enough, other than pasties you had a wide selection of appetizers, soups, salads, desserts, and sides. Drinks included sodas, lemonade, iced tea, and coffee. With such a beautiful bar, not surprisingly, Cornish Pasty Co. offered a wide selection of craft beers, liquor, and wine.
My only complaint? Since all pasties are made ahead of time, it’s not uncommon for them to be out of certain items on the menu. So, be sure to have a back up just in case they are out of your first choice.
The Chicken Greek
First up was The Chicken Greek ($13) made with chicken breast, spinach, fresh mozzarella, feta, sun-dried tomatoes, Kalamata olives, artichoke, and garlic. The Chicken Greek came with a side of tzatziki and an extra side of marinara since I also ordered the Italian.
The golden brown handmade pasty crust was baked to perfection until crispy and warm. While similar to a calzone, the pasty crust was less doughy and more flaky without being too thick or thin. Its buttery flavor could be tasted in each bite without overpowering the filling inside.
For its size, I was impressed by the amount of ingredients packed inside. This included simple yet large slices of chicken breast, sweet and chewy sun-dried tomatoes, fresh sautéed spinach, melted mozzarella, tender bits of artichoke, and garlic. Both the Kalamata olives and feta cheese added saltiness which complemented the buttery pasty crust.
If you are looking for something relatively healthy on the menu, using fresh ingredients that you can taste in each bite, then The Chicken Greek is it.
Next up was the Italian ($13) made with pepperoni, salami, capocollo, ham, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, and roasted tomato with a side of marinara. This pasty was heavy and dense, more so than The Chicken Greek. Just as with The Chicken Greek, this pasty crust was flaky, buttery, and crispy.
If you love pizza or you’re a meat and cheese kind of person, then you will enjoy this pasty packed with layer after layer of meat and cheese. This thing had every type of meat you would want including pepperoni, salami, capocollo, and ham. Each meat added both flavor and texture. The pepperoni and salami added a smoky yet spicy flavor while the capocollo added a fatty richness. The tender ham added sweetness and smokiness.
Layered between the meat was a thick slice of melted mozzarella. The soft, creamy, and salty cheese acted like glue between the layers of meat. I enjoyed how I could taste meat and cheese in every bite.
While easy to overlook, the roasted tomato might have been my favorite filling of this pasty. The chunks of tender tomatoes, both smoky and sweet, complemented the salty, rich meat and mozzarella. The fresh, acidic injection of flavor from the tomatoes brought this entire pasty together.
No matter which Cornish Pasty Co. location I visit, whether in Tempe or Las Vegas, I always seem to receive the same great service. With that said, I always sit at the bar when I visit, so I can only speak of my experience with the bartenders who are laid back, friendly, and attentive. On my recent visit, the bartender was always around to pour a drink, give a food recommendation, or just chat it up about current events or spring training.
Since I first discovered Cornish Pasty Co., I have made it a tradition to stop by on my yearly road trips to Tempe for spring training. I just can’t resist the flaky and buttery crust and fresh and unique fillings of a Cornish pasty. Along with the cool décor, friendly service, and great drinks, Cornish Pasty Co. should be on your list of the must try restaurants in Tempe.
- Authentic pasties using fresh ingredients
- Extensive menu with many options
- Friendly bartenders
- Large outdoor patio
- Happy hour
- Not uncommon for them to run out of certain items on the menu
960 W University Dr #103, Tempe, AZ 85281
GPS Coordinates: 33.42300,-111.95184
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