If you study this thread carefully I have expressed my opinons on the Hoosier state. After my yearly trip I will most likely have updates for you. For now, if you visit Indiana you should go to Nick's Kitchen where it all started and still has the best tenderloin to date. The Mug'n'Bug gets a lot of publicity, is in the Stern's Roadfoad book and was featured in Jensen Rufe's documentary, "In Search of the Hoosier Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich", so is going to get repetitive build upon comment by many that may never have been there. I could easily add to that heap since it is my home town of Speedway but I have not had one since my ressurrection tour of my youth started last year. So I will hold off until I visit again. Yes, I have been there numerous times many years ago. In Speedway alone there are a half dozen other places in regular restaurants. My Indianapolis rankings so far are...
Billy O'Neal's on West 10th (and not because it is name after a high school classmate of mine)
Nickel Plate, Fishers (It was also the Indy Men's Magazine winner last year out of 64 restaurant samplings)
Grindstone Charley's on Crawfordsville Road (Where we have our annual Speedway HS reunion--yes annual)
The Union Jack, Speedway
Indy 500 Brickyard Crossing (Featured on Food Network's Food Finds and looked great but I must have been there on an off day)
This year I will repeat at Grindstone Charley's and probably will try Muldoon's in Carmel since my sister claims it is better than the Nickel Plate and I am trying to convince a new Irish Pub in Excelsior, MN to put one on their menu.. Also, I am going to try to get to the Gnaw Bone Food & Fuel, another Roadfood book myth maker and regular publicity write up. Great name. I want to know how the tenderloin stacks up. If I stop it will be right after an after wedding Sunday brunch in Floyd's Knob, IN. Love those names.
I may have to stop at the Mug'n'Bun or it will hang over my head for another year. Other places I have heard with recommendations but not been to are MicGilvery's, Green Street Pub in Brownsburg, Red Onion in Sheridan, and Shallo's.
On the way to Indy I will bypass Des Moines but am going to try stopping at Joensy's in Solon, IA midway between Cedar Rapids and Iowa City. I've seen photos and they make a gigantic tenderloin. I will see how it tastes. Smitty's in Des Moines and Darrell's in Hamlin, IA could be later this summer on a weekend side trip. Those three seem to be Iowa's contenders.
My impressions so far. Minnesota tries but doesn't get it when Culver's can be at the top of the list. Iowa seems to be reputed with small cafes and roadsides. I'm not all sure they have quality but they sure show quantity. Illinos is caught between the two giant claimants, Iowa and Indiana but will go Bohemian open face style on you around Chicago. Indiana takes their tenderloin seriously and they can be found in their better restaurants that are a cut above sports bars and pubs. In Indiana you can't go into a sports bar or pub without one on the menu.