Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches

Post
Porker93
Junior Burger
2005/05/23 18:19:50
Does anyone know the name of the town & the cafe north of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, (I'd guess maybe about 15-20+ miles north just off Hiway I-380.)?
I had visited the area a year ago or so, & the people I was with took for me a drive north of town a few miles on the freeway, & made a right/east back into this small town.
At this small town cafe, they were well-known for their Pork Tenderloin sandwiches. They were excellent & huge, ...
Now I can't find any information about either, & I'm planning on going back that way next week & would like to find this place again to share it with some other family traveling with me.

Anyone know the details?!?
Porker93
Junior Burger
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2005/05/23 18:52:30
Just wanted to note that I understand there is a place southeast of Cedar Rapids, in a town called Solon, tht has some excellent looking tenderloin sandwiches also. But not the direction I traveled last year, I know we went north-nw on I-380.
Jim Ross
Cheeseburger
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2005/05/23 21:08:32
It might be Mahoney's in Alburnett. My relatives go there for the broasted chicken, which is excellent. I've heard the tenderloin's are good too, but we always get the chicken. If you get the chicken, be prepared to wait because it's cooked to order and takes a while. Have a cold one while it cooks.
plb
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2005/05/23 22:19:32
So, they really have Indiana pork tenderloin sandwiches in Iowa.

I had one a few years ago at the California State Fair. The stand was called something like Iowa Tenderloin Sandwiches. After I “grilled” the owners they admitted they were from Indiana, had never been in Iowa, but thought Iowa sounded more realistic.

wanderingjew
Sirloin
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2005/05/23 22:58:51
quote:
Originally posted by plb

So, they really have Indiana pork tenderloin sandwiches in Iowa.

I had one a few years ago at the California State Fair. The stand was called something like Iowa Tenderloin Sandwiches. After I “grilled” the owners they admitted they were from Indiana, had never been in Iowa, but thought Iowa sounded more realistic.




Not being from the midwest, I don't consider myself an expert, however if you have read some of the Roadfood books, the Sterns indicate that the Tenderloin Sandwich is Shared by several states in between I-70 and I-80 from the Indiana border to Nebraska.
Davydd
Sirloin
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2005/06/05 17:56:26
From what I can tell Indiana is the true home of the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich mostly attributed to Nick's Kitchen in Huntingdon, IN about 1908. Iowa probably caught onto it because of the preponderance of hog farms. However, if you go to the Iowa Pork Producers Associaton web site you will see they don't even recognize the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich.

http://www.iowapork.org/recipes/sandwiches.html

That says a lot. The book, AMERICAN SANDWICH, Great Eats from All 50 States, by Becky Mercuri attributes the pork tenderloin sandwich to Indiana. Iowa gets credit for the Loosemeat sandwich. If you check just the reviews in this forum you will see Indiana leads in featuring this sandwich.

I just got back from the Indy 500 where I partook in three 'loins from two restaurants and the track. I was impressed that just about every restaurant and pub in and around Indianapolis featured this gourmet delight. There were enough that Indy Men's magazine had a feature countdown of 64 sandwiches from different restaurants to arrive at a winner. There first place choice was the Nickel Plate in Fishers, IN an Indianapolis suburb. So I tried it, and I can say I can agree with their choice. But there are so many more to try by this 'loin starved Minnesotan surviving on breaded walley sandwiches.
wanderingjew
Sirloin
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2005/06/05 19:02:47
quote:
Originally posted by Davydd

From what I can tell Indiana is the true home of the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich mostly attributed to Nick's Kitchen in Huntingdon, IN about 1908. Iowa probably caught onto it because of the preponderance of hog farms. However, if you go to the Iowa Pork Producers Associaton web site you will see they don't even recognize the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich.

http://www.iowapork.org/recipes/sandwiches.html

That says a lot. The book, AMERICAN SANDWICH, Great Eats from All 50 States, by Becky Mercuri attributes the pork tenderloin sandwich to Indiana. Iowa gets credit for the Loosemeat sandwich. If you check just the reviews in this forum you will see Indiana leads in featuring this sandwich.

I just got back from the Indy 500 where I partook in three 'loins from two restaurants and the track. I was impressed that just about every restaurant and pub in and around Indianapolis featured this gourmet delight. There were enough that Indy Men's magazine had a feature countdown of 64 sandwiches from different restaurants to arrive at a winner. There first place choice was the Nickel Plate in Fishers, IN an Indianapolis suburb. So I tried it, and I can say I can agree with their choice. But there are so many more to try by this 'loin starved Minnesotan surviving on breaded walley sandwiches.



Not being from the Mid West, I wasn't sure, I guess the Sterns were simply wrong.
Hastyman
Hamburger
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2005/06/05 20:10:22
quote:
Originally posted by Porker93

Does anyone know the name of the town & the cafe north of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, (I'd guess maybe about 15-20+ miles north just off Hiway I-380.)?
I had visited the area a year ago or so, & the people I was with took for me a drive north of town a few miles on the freeway, & made a right/east back into this small town.
At this small town cafe, they were well-known for their Pork Tenderloin sandwiches. They were excellent & huge, ...
Now I can't find any information about either, & I'm planning on going back that way next week & would like to find this place again to share it with some other family traveling with me.

Anyone know the details?!?


Joensy's (that's how it's spelled) in Center Point, right in the middle of town. Not too bad, but in that area, I prefer Oscar's in Hiawatha. The tenderloins at Oscar's are good, but the breakfasts . . . talk about an all-day meal . . .
Hastyman
Hamburger
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2005/06/05 20:13:08
quote:
Originally posted by Davydd

From what I can tell Indiana is the true home of the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich mostly attributed to Nick's Kitchen in Huntingdon, IN about 1908. Iowa probably caught onto it because of the preponderance of hog farms. However, if you go to the Iowa Pork Producers Associaton web site you will see they don't even recognize the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich.

http://www.iowapork.org/recipes/sandwiches.html



Nobody in Iowa makes tenderloins at home. It's drive-in food.

Interesting that a recipe for "Really Made Rights" appears on the Iowa Pork Producers' website . . . I guess we know where they stand on the whole loosemeat nomenclature issue.
6star
Filet Mignon
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2005/06/05 20:14:31
quote:
Originally posted by Porker93

Does anyone know the name of the town & the cafe north of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, (I'd guess maybe about 15-20+ miles north just off Hiway I-380.)?

Anyone know the details?!?


I am going to guess that the town is Center Point, IA, on the east side of I 380 at Exit 35. The exit would be about 17 miles north of Cedar Rapids. There are 2 restaurants in town that might be the one you were looking for. (They are about a mile and a half north of the exit and about 2 blocks apart on the same street.) They are Joensy's Restaurant at 220 Franklin St. (Ph. 319-848-1789) and Susie's Family Restaurant at 427 Franklin St. (Ph. 319-849-2920). If I am not too late with the info, I hope this helps you.
Davydd
Sirloin
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2005/06/05 20:23:22
Wanderingjew,

In your previous message you quoted I-80 and I-70 to Nebraska by the Sterns. That pretty much takes in Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Missouri. The Sterns were not wrong. That is where you will primarily find pork tenderloin sandwiches and the drop off is severe the farther you get away from those states. Iowa has them because they are a major hog state. Indiana started them in my opinion and embraces them like no other state. Illinois and Missouri fall in line out of proximity.

When you get in Minnesota, a border state to Iowa, you start to find variations such as heavily flavored breadings, cheese added, double tenderloins, swirl toast, etc. Iowa and Indiana seem to stick to the basics with the overly large pounded loin on a bun.

The Culvers chain makes a fairly good fast food facsimili of the breaded pork tenderloin but the only true traditional loin I have found in Minnesota is at the Peppermint Twist drive-in in Delano, MN. There are others I am aware of that I have not checked out yet.
Ort. Carlton.
Filet Mignon
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2005/06/05 21:47:49
Dearfolk,
The best tenderloin sandwich I ever remember eating was in a cafe on Oquawka, Illinois, right uphill from the Mississippi River... and right downhill from the county courthouse, were an elephant named Norma Jean is buried on the courthouse lawn... she was struck by lightning in 1972.
As for the tenderloin, it was half-again as big as the bun, if not more. The one I ate at The White Mill (Home Of Wyatt Earp) in Monmouth, IL. came in second to that one.
Unchunchingly, Ort. Carlton in Loinless Athens.
santacruz
Cheeseburger
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2005/06/10 14:54:21
I am heading up to the great state of Iowa for my July 4th family vacation. I am looking forward to two roadfood items to partake in.

1. Pork Tenderloin sandwhich in Britt Iowa, fantastic light and mealt in your mouth port meatyness huge on a fluffy good bun.

2. MadeRite or Tavern loosemeat sandwhich. My wife the Iowan says everyone knows what they are and they are delicious if made right.

The Tenderloin sandwhich when created correctly is out of this world.

So I usually don't look forward to going on my vacation to Iowa in the summer but now I am motivated.
cindyloo
Cheeseburger
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2005/06/10 15:10:29
Porker93, based on your description of going north of Cedar Rapids on the interstate and heading back east into the small town, you're definitely talking about Joensy's in Center Point. There is another Joensy's (the original) in Solon as well, which I would consider more of a tavern atmosphere. The Center Point location is more like a cafe.

I hope you are able to find it on your return trip. Enjoy!

Cindy
Bogeyman
Junior Burger
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2005/06/10 15:19:04
I thought I got this link from this forum but maybe not.
These are some tasty looking sandwiches.
Santacruz I am also headed to Iowa the fourth to visit my wife's family.
Do you know if a tenderloin sandwich is available around Mason City?
I've already given up on finding any BBQ up there.

http://www.allenbukoff.com/wildBPTiowa03/
tsores
Double Cheeseburger
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2005/06/10 15:43:40
I think the place you are looking for is:

Joensy's
101 West Main Street
Solon IA 52333

They do have a gigantic pork tenderloin sandwich. It must be 9 inches in diameter and not quite 1/2 inch thick. When it is that thin, it becomes a breading sandwich with just enough meat to hold it together. I was disappointed with the product but am probably in the minority. The place does a good business and the tenderloin sandwich is their specialty.
Bill B.
Cheeseburger
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2005/06/10 16:36:58
I like the tenderloins at Darrell's Place, in Hamlin, Iowa:

http://www.iowapork.org/pork_checkoff/restaurant/darrellsi.html

Here is a decent Des Moines Register story about Iowa pork tenderloins:

http://www.dmregister.com/entertainment/stories/c2124444/23675061.html
wanderingjew
Sirloin
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2005/06/10 17:39:08
quote:
Originally posted by santacruz

I am heading up to the great state of Iowa for my July 4th family vacation. I am looking forward to two roadfood items to partake in.

1. Pork Tenderloin sandwhich in Britt Iowa, fantastic light and mealt in your mouth port meatyness huge on a fluffy good bun.

2. MadeRite or Tavern loosemeat sandwhich. My wife the Iowan says everyone knows what they are and they are delicious if made right.

The Tenderloin sandwhich when created correctly is out of this world.

So I usually don't look forward to going on my vacation to Iowa in the summer but now I am motivated.


Another fine road food tradition in Iowa are Pork Chops. Either Stuffed or Served with Mushroom Gravy and either Real Mashed Potatos or Hash Browns on the Side. The White Way in Durant used to serve a fine version of this, sadly they went out of business because they couldn't keep up with the chains.
santacruz
Cheeseburger
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2005/06/13 16:06:05
Bogeyman,

In Britt which is outside Garner a little ways not far from Mason. It is either the Red Rooster or Hob Nob Lodge. They are very good.

http://www.brittchamberofcommerce.com/Dining_Catering.html

I'm going to try a place in Clear Lake for Bar B Que:

http://www.mckennasbbb.com/themenu.htm
Also I am going to check out a Greek place that has good steaks in Mason City.

Boy I hope it's not to HOT
tiki
Filet Mignon
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2005/06/13 16:57:38
quote:
Originally posted by wanderingjew

quote:
Originally posted by santacruz

I am heading up to the great state of Iowa for my July 4th family vacation. I am looking forward to two roadfood items to partake in.

1. Pork Tenderloin sandwhich in Britt Iowa, fantastic light and mealt in your mouth port meatyness huge on a fluffy good bun.

2. MadeRite or Tavern loosemeat sandwhich. My wife the Iowan says everyone knows what they are and they are delicious if made right.

The Tenderloin sandwhich when created correctly is out of this world.

So I usually don't look forward to going on my vacation to Iowa in the summer but now I am motivated.


Another fine road food tradition in Iowa are Pork Chops. Either Stuffed or Served with Mushroom Gravy and either Real Mashed Potatos or Hash Browns on the Side. The White Way in Durant used to serve a fine version of this, sadly they went out of business because they couldn't keep up with the chains.


Lets see--i will have one stuffed with hashbrowns and one with gravy and mash---extra gravy with thw mashed please!......and a mess of greens!!!
santacruz
Cheeseburger
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2005/06/14 11:25:09
Tiki,

I still prefer northside Boston or the Willows outside Nevada City up on the way to the ridge, but who can resist Bar B Que next to where Buddy Holly did his last gig?
Bogeyman
Junior Burger
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2005/07/11 11:32:42
SantaCruz,
Heard that The Other Place in Mason City had a really good tenderloin. Played golf with my brother in law on Sunday at the All Vet in Clear Lake. Afterwards we went to The Other Place in Clear Lake. Were told they didn't do the tenderloin there only in Mason. They did have an excellant grilled chop though.
Didn't eat at McKenna's but did see it next door to the Surf Ballroom Saturday night when we saw Ted Nugent. What a show. Wife's niece lives a block from the ballroon so we ate there.
carlton pierre
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2005/07/11 12:06:24
I've had wonderful tenderloins in every Midwestern state and it's one of the things I miss terribly in the south so I make them at home. Mine are good but not as good as the ones you buy in the midwest for sure. I had a great one just last week at a neat little place in Plattsburg, MO called Bert & Ernie's.
My favorite was a little town in western MO, I cannot remember the name of the town or the restaurant but they served tenerloins and frozen custards. Wow!

BTW, I just heard the Sterns on The Splendid Table yesterday singing the praises of the Mug and Bun in Indianapolis.
santacruz
Cheeseburger
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2005/07/11 14:16:46
I did not get a tenderloin this time, but attended wifes class reunion in Ventura had a really good smoked pork chop. Wanted to see Ted Nugent but was in Iowa just a little while (Garner and Ventura). Had excellent bbq chicken up in St. Croix Wis. also one of the best filet mignon's in La Crosse Wis. Excellent meats. Also wanted to try the Northwest steak house in Mason but did not have time. Will do later.
mammascookin
Hamburger
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2005/07/14 14:56:34
If you are looking for BBQ in Iowa you need to come to Des Moines. Especially around Drake Relays. There are tons of vendors on the streets that are very popular for their BBQ. The other place for BBQ is Big Daddy's BBQ here. He passed away not long ago so I am not sure that the restaurant is still open...will have to check into that...but his was THE BEST!

Here's a link and be sure to click on About to get more information on Big Daddy! He was a great person and helped the community in so many ways! He will be missed!

http://www.bigdaddysbbq.net/
BBQ Barney
Cheeseburger
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2005/08/03 21:31:44
I don't know who first created pork tenderloin sandwiches, and find it unimportant--but today we had our first experience at Darrell's Place in Hamlin, Iowa---we both thought it was the best we had ever had--including Mother's hand made version of years ago. Light breading, perfectly trimmed and pounded, and served super hot on a bun half the size of the loin. Pickle, onion, mustard and you've got a superb sandwich. A basket with fries, slaw and sandwich was $5.25!! Truly a small town Iowa experience. Darrell's is just eight miles north of interstate 80 in western Iowa--worth the short detour! Open M-Sat.
Thanks to BillB and, of all things, the awful Des Moines Register for suggesting this great place!
NeedaTenderloin
Junior Burger
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2005/08/15 22:31:18
NE1 know where I can get a Pork Tenderloin sandwich in Northern California? I am from the midwest and haven't had one in years.
meriheart
Junior Burger
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2005/09/12 13:16:06
I have read this thread with interest, especially the claim about Indiana eating more pork tenders than anyone else. I have lived in both Indiana and Illinois. My sister lives in Fort Wayne but was raised in Illinois, and the same with my step sisters.

We all agree that Pork tender sandwiches (the fried ones that overwhelm the bun) are much more prevalent in Illinois. There are several places that have takeout where they are served in pizza boxes they are so huge. Schooners in Peoria and Morton (both Illinois) are both in this category, along with a few of the bar-type places along the Illinois River. Hunts in Peoria was famous for its pork tender but it just recently closed and I will miss it dearly.

I now live in Little Rock and down here there is no one that even knows what a true pork tenderloin sandwich is. I saw one on a menu once and got excited but when they brought it, it was slices of pork medallions on a bun and you were supposed to put barbque sauce on it. I could have cried. I found this site by doing a web search trying to get a recipe so I can make my own.

I firmly maintain that pork tenderloins are huge in Illinois.
plb
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2005/09/12 13:52:58
quote:
Originally posted by NeedaTenderloin

NE1 know where I can get a Pork Tenderloin sandwich in Northern California? I am from the midwest and haven't had one in years.


The closest thing I have found is the pork schnisal (sp) sandwich at Andronico's. It is precooked, reheated on a grill and costs $6.99. And you have to request it on a bun, or you will get it sliced on a roll.

In a 5/23/05 post above I mentioned that I had had a real one at the California State Fair. But that was a few years ago, the last time we went there we did not see it.
CharlieS
Junior Burger
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2005/09/12 20:10:28
quote:
Originally posted by NeedaTenderloin

NE1 know where I can get a Pork Tenderloin sandwich in Northern California? I am from the midwest and haven't had one in years.


In Northern California, I think you'll have to make your own, which I do. It's not hard.

Get a package of thick boneless loin chops. Trim the fat & silverskin (I use scissors to make it fast & easy). Pound out to about 1/4 inch thick. Season with salt & pepper. Dab with water (or other wash: milk, milk & egg, water & egg). Then dredge in cracker meal--Nabisco sells this in a box, or use a food processor or blender to grind up soda crackers. Deep fry until golden brown.

Serve on a bun with condiments of your choosing. At the A&W where I worked in high school in a small town in Iowa, "everything" was ketchup, mustard, onion, & dill pickle.


Mmmm!

Call it a pork tenderloin sandwich or a pork schnitzel sandwich, it's good eating.

CharlieS
plb
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2005/09/12 22:51:37
quote:
Originally posted by CharlieS

quote:
Originally posted by NeedaTenderloin

NE1 know where I can get a Pork Tenderloin sandwich in Northern California? I am from the midwest and haven't had one in years.


In Northern California, I think you'll have to make your own, which I do. It's not hard.

Get a package of thick boneless loin chops. Trim the fat & silverskin (I use scissors to make it fast & easy). Pound out to about 1/4 inch thick. Season with salt & pepper. Dab with water (or other wash: milk, milk & egg, water & egg). Then dredge in cracker meal--Nabisco sells this in a box, or use a food processor or blender to grind up soda crackers. Deep fry until golden brown.

Serve on a bun with condiments of your choosing. At the A&W where I worked in high school in a small town in Iowa, "everything" was ketchup, mustard, onion, & dill pickle.


Mmmm!

Call it a pork tenderloin sandwich or a pork schnitzel sandwich, it's good eating.

CharlieS



"ketchup, mustard, onion, & dill pickle." WHAT?? Lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise.
Porker93
Junior Burger
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2005/09/23 22:42:15
Joensy's it was! (Center Point location.)
Man was it delicious, ...
Wish I could copy that at home, but it's just not the same, ...
Thanks for the replies & info!
simplysallys
Junior Burger
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2005/10/06 16:41:04
We live in Des Moines and are going to Leon to buy a tractor on Saturday... does anywone know of any wonderful tenderloins between Leon and Des Moines? I read about a stop in Albia, but that looks to be another hour from Leon?
Any ideas???
I'm starving after reading all this talk of tenderloins!
CCJPO
Double Cheeseburger
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2005/10/06 17:36:00
Simplysallys:

What kind of tractor are you buying, I have a 2002 New HollandTN805 Diesel w/ cab, air, heat, CD player, computer wired, 2 remotes, 8 sp transmissionw/shuttle, 540PTO, Category II, 3 Pt hitch - 2403 operating hours, that I am looking to part with. Just bought a 2005, similarily equipped, a few more bells and whistles, about 25% better fuel economy (I hope).

Only problem is you would have to come to Nevada to buy it, oh by the way, you would have to bring a sack of the tenderloin sandwiches you all are talking about. I have never had one. The sandwiches are a must, otherwise the deal is off.

Good luck on your shopping spree.
simplysallys
Junior Burger
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2005/10/06 22:37:20
I think your tractor is a bit more than we need! Nevada, as in the state????? Good grief! hahahahaa....... I guess it's a no deal then! There is a Nevada just a few miles down the road, but it's a small town....
We only need a small tractor for mowing our 5 acres of hip high prairie! Gonna build next year and need to knock that mess down.
Still looking for a tenderloin in the Leon area... You'll need to come visit Iowa for this wonderful sandwich! Can't believe it's limited to just a few states.Thanks for the reply.....
Sally
michaelgemmell
Double Cheeseburger
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2005/10/12 17:16:59
CCJPO, I am avoiding taking our original CDs in the car, because many of them are irreplaceable. Perhaps yours are irreplaceable, too. May I respectfully suggest either an iPod or even using a music program in your computer? I just don't want anyone to lose music. Isn't it one of the things that makes life worth living?

Did you find that great sandwich, simplysallys?
hawkeyejohn
Cheeseburger
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2005/10/13 08:19:01
from today's Chicago Tribune:

Love me, tenderloin
It's Iowa's version of a delicacy: the breaded pork tenderloin. Three Hawkeye State transplants tell you why it is a sandwich like no other--and where to find it here.

Mike Conklin, Jon Yates and Reid Hanley
Tribune staff reporters
Published October 13, 2005

SOME PEOPLE--MAYBE EVEN GERTRUDE STEIN, WERE she still with us--will tell you that a breaded pork tenderloin is a breaded pork tenderloin is a breaded pork tenderloin.

They are not from Iowa.

A breaded pork tenderloin--done up as a sandwich--is the epitome of a classic Iowa dish.

How do we know this? When the subject came up the other day and we mentioned a few favorite BPTs we'd enjoyed--a schnitzel here, a milanesa there, a tonkatsu one supper several years ago--a trio of former Iowans (OK, so maybe you're never a former Iowan) complained loudly.

And they complained that it's tough to find a truly authentic Iowa-style breaded pork tenderloin sandwich without crossing the Mississippi River.

That was all that At Play needed to hear. So what did we do? We asked that trio of Tribune reporters--Mike Conklin, Jon Yates and Reid Hanley--to find a breaded pork tenderloin sandwich that fulfilled their Iowa dreams.

Here's their slightly edited, grease-stained report.

MIKE: Does it seem like breaded pork tenderloins are a bigger delicacy in Iowa than elsewhere, or is that my imagination?

JON: Sadly, I think you're right. When I was growing up, tenderloin sandwiches practically fell off every passing pig. And there were plenty of pigs in Iowa. Here, you have to send a search team just to find a decent tenderloin. I think there are simply more pigs in Iowa. But I could be wrong.

REID: I am no world traveler, but Iowa seems to be the ONLY place where you can get a breaded, fried pork tenderloin. I remember as a high school senior taking a trip to Wisconsin and ordering a tenderloin sandwich only to find it was a steak sandwich! How disappointing. I remember someone saying there was a law against serving a pork tenderloin in Wis-consin. They have obviously seen the error of their ways now with Culver's--which aren't exactly Iowa quality but are still tasty.

Maybe it's a nostalgic thing, but a pork tenderloin is still my No. 1 choice for a sandwich. Burgers are always good and so is Italian beef or sausage. But they aren't tenderloins.

MIKE: When I've found them in Chicago, a lot of them seemed to be like they came from a cookie-cutter. Too round. I don't remember them ever being perfectly round. Sometimes there might even be a little sliver that was kind of an extension, like a peninsula off the mainland.

So, what make a perfect Iowa pork tenderloin?

JON: For me, the perfect tenderloin is roughly twice the circumference of the bun. Or larger. If you're full before you even hit the bun, that's good. The tenderloin should be thin and crispy, and pounded into a shape that's round-like, but not perfectly round. Perfectly round suggests manufacturing. Tenderloins should not be manufactured.

REID: I'm a flavor guy. I love the taste. It should be bigger than the bun--which should be toasted--but not so big that you can't eat and drive at the same time. (I'm sure that's a flashback to the Lisbon [Iowa] A&W.) There should be a hint of seasoning--just salt and pepper. I have mine with just ketchup. Don't really like much elsemore stuff would kill the taste.

MIKE: Ketchup and dill pickles, no more, no less. I can live without the pickles, but ketchup is a necessity. Back in the old days, when my stomach was stronger and it took a hand grenade under my bed to wake me up, I liked a little raw onion, too.

JON: No true pork tenderloin has grilled onions. They have to be raw. I went to Culver's and, though the tenderloin itself is better than I expected (though barely larger than the bun), it came with grilled onions. I should have sent it back.

REID: My theory on how to eat them is to eat around, moving towards the bun. Once you get to the bun, you also get to the condiments! Splitting the giant tenderloin is not a bad idea, especially if you get it to go. And ask for an extra bun. It's like getting two for one.

MIKE: I worked one summer at that A&W in Lisbon. One of my jobs was to take this meat cleaver and pound those tenderloins until they looked like crepes. I don't think you can discount the breading. That was the best part, to me. I can remember it being thicker than the meat.

JON: TOO LARGE??!?!? Never. No such thing. I see your point about them being toooooo thin. I don't want to eat just breading either. But fried breading is never a bad thing.

And Joensys in Solon, Iowa, to me is Mecca for the tenderloin enthusiast.

MIKE: Joensys owner Biran Joens says he sells about 600 breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches a week. He attributes their popularity to the fact Iowans prefer plain, simple food and stick with something they like. Forever. It also helps that the University of Iowa is only a few miles away and the sandwiches have become a novelty of sorts for students.

REID: Finding a tenderloin in the Chicago area means two things: Culver's and blind luck. Tenderloins are so rare around here you have to stumble on them. There are so many hot dogs, burgers, Italian beef and sausage and chicken sandwiches there doesn't seem like there is room on the menu for them. Pity.

MIKE: One thing I've noticed about breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches here: It seemed like the farther I got from the Loop, the sandwiches got better. Maybe it's because you get closer to Iowa. The best sandwiches seemed to be off the beaten path.

I also noticed that the restaurants don't seem too anxious to say they're breaded. I found a perfectly fine sandwich at the Silo in Lake Bluff, but you had to read the menu's fine print to learn it was breaded. Who wants a tenderloin without the breading?

REID: Breading is a key. Not too much, though. My tenderloin at the Machine Shed in Rockford seemed to be battered. It was tasty, however. Wish I could find one in DuPage County

MIKE: Actually, some of those breaded pork tenderloins we used to sell at that A&W had more breading than pork, kind of like a shell that encased the meat.

JON: I still say the best tenderloin I ever had was at the deli in the Hy Vee grocery store where I worked. I spent six years as a stockboy/bagger/checker/produce guy and ate almost nightly at the deli. They kept their tenderloins behind a glass counter, and I could choose which one I wanted them to cook. I always chose the largest one. It was big and thick and juicy--yes, actually juicy (though I suspect the juice might have been at least partially made up of grease). I had it with lettuce, tomato, onion and mayonnaise. Damn good. I can still taste it. It was worth however many years all those tenderloins took off my life.

REID: I think the appeal, the passion is a regional pride thing that brings you back to your childhood. I can't imagine an Iowa kid who hasn't eaten a tenderloin at the local drive-in or tavern.

MIKE: Hey, when I eat a breaded pork tenderloin sandwich, it's not just food. It's a memory. I can't help but think of the old drive-in restaurant--with car hops--where I worked and ate. Every drive-in in every town seemed to advertise "Iowa's largest tenderloin," but I just knew we had the biggest. It was a matter of local pride in our tiny community, and who cared how they tasted? Just pile on the pickles and ketchup. Size mattered.

JON: Non-Iowans often don't understand the appeal of tenderloins because they've probably never had a truly good one. And they certainly haven't grown up in a tenderloin culture. We Iowans love our pigs, and we love our small-town diners. The tenderloin is the quintessential intersection of the two. It's a point of pride which diner sells the largest tenderloin. Why? Because Iowans don't go for ritzy, expensive entrees where the plate is huge and the food tiny. We like things the other way around. We fail to see why anyone wouldn't. Flavor? Who needs it. Not that tenderloins don't taste good. They do. The breading has to be just right, and the pork itself should be thick enough to be juicy. But we don't need our food all gussied up. Anything on a bun will do. If it's pork, all the better.

- - -

A few bites of pork

So how did the Iowa boys fare in their search? Here's a rundown of the breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches they consumed and a rating.

Oink rating: 1 oink, "Order the burger"; 2 oinks, "I was hungry"; 3 oinks, "OK . . . for Illinois"; 4 oinks, "Gosh, almost makes me forget the hills of Dubuque"; 5 oinks, "Closest thing to (Iowa) heaven."

The Silo

625 Rockland Rd., Lake Bluff 847-234-6660

The goods: This place is known for its pizza, but, of all the places I visited in the Chicago area, it comes closest to those serving an Iowa-style breaded pork tenderloin, the kind I recall eating in the Hawkeye state. The meat had more than enough "bun overlap" and--just as important to me--the breading was nice and crunchy. The fries that came with it were fine, but who could finish them after eating all of this sandwich?

Price: $7.95

Rating: 5 oinks

-- Mike Conklin

The Igloo

2819 4th St., Peru 815-223-0848

The goods: Sure, there are other things on the menu, but the Igloo makes it quite clear the tenderloin rules in this small-town diner. It's the first thing listed on the menu--and it's darn good. It's not the biggest tenderloin around, but it's large enough to peek out from beneath the bun, with a crispy breading that provides the right amount of crunch. Served with your choice of condiments (raw onions of course), it's about as close to Iowa as you can get so close to Chicago. And for those of you who think the sandwich is too small, never fear: The Igloo also offers a version with two tenderloins.

Price: $3.05 for a single; $5.35 for a double.

Rating: 4 oinks

-- Jon Yates

Kelley's Restaurant

5420 S. U.S. Highway 14, Harvard 815-943-7558

The goods: Here's a real old-fashioned, small-town restaurant, where townsfolk gather to talk as much as eat. The breaded pork tenderloin I ate was helped by this atmosphere. At least the meat was thick and tasty, but the breading was a little too thin for my taste. The cook made up for this by doing a nice job toasting the bun, which provided extra crunch. My biggest concern: Why was Kelley's offering listed under "specialty sandwiches" instead of "traditional sandwiches"? What's more traditional than breaded pork tenderloin?

Price: $4.95; $5.95 (deluxe with salad)

Rating: 4 oinks

-- M.C.

Blackberry Inn

Illinois Hwy. 47 and Main Street, Elburn 630-365-2200

The goods: This was a pleasant surprise. I had driven past this spot a number of times and didn't have a clue they had a tenderloin. Mine was pretty tasty with a nice breading. It was big, and the bun was pretty much dwarfed. There was an extra piece that I ate sans bun. This was a real tenderloin, not some formed patty. It was a little overcooked, but there was still some juiciness to it. It was pretty close to what I was hoping for, considering which side of the Mississippi I was on. I wouldn't hesitate to stop again.

Price: $5.95 (with fries and side)

Rating: 3 1/2 oinks

-- Reid Hanley

Culver's

Locations around Chicagoland

The goods: Culver's doesn't exactly promote its pork tenderloin sandwich. All the love goes to ButterBurgers and frozen custard. But for tenderloin lovers, the fast-food restaurant provides a quick fix--and a surprisingly good facsimile of the Iowa original. Juicy with a light, flaky breading, Culver's version is flavorful but not overpowering. The sandwich is a bit too round--clearly it was not hand-pounded. It's also a tad small. But it is difficult to beat the convenience (Culver's restaurants seem to be sprouting up everywhere), and for fast food, you could do a heck of a lot worse.

Price: $3.89 for the sandwich, $6.09 for a basket (with drink and fries).

Rating: 3 oinks

-- J.Y.

Machine Shed Restaurant

7475 E. State St., Rockford 815-229-3276

The goods: The Machine Shed restaurants in Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin have a pork tenderloin sandwich highlighting their lunch menus. "Our most popular sandwich. Not your ordinary pork T!" Well, there is no such thing as "ordinary" when it comes to pork tenderloin. This one is battered not breaded, which is a bit curious since the Machine Shed chain started in Davenport in 1978. It was big and juicy, and the batter factor was an interesting twist.Nice oversized bun but the meat overflowed, just like you want. The platter is a buck more, but you get fries and either a cup of soup or a side of coleslaw and cottage cheese. A lot of food.

Price: $5.99 for the sandwich; $6.99 for the platter.

Rating: 3 oinks

-- R.H.

Petros

160 N. LaSalle St. 312-357-2700

The goods: If you're looking for an Iowa-style breaded pork tenderloin in a convenient Loop location, you're going to have a problem with this otherwise fine restaurant. There were two breaded pork tenderloin offerings on the menu. But after thinking I had it straight with the waitress, I was brought two layers of breaded pork in an open-faced sandwich--smothered in mashed potatoes and gravy. My veins started clogging just looking at it. Tasty, but even I couldn't finish it. I'll go back some other day for the other sandwich on the menu.

Price: $8.95 (includes soup or salad)

Rating: 2 oinks

-- M.C.

- - -

Our tenderloin team

Mike Conklin, Tempo reporter, spent a summer making "Iowa's largest" breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches in his hometown at the A&W drive-in in Lisbon. He preferred eating them.

Reid Hanley, sports reporter, though born in Chicago, calls Mt. Vernon, Iowa, his hometown. He has been eating pork tenderloins for decades.

Jon Yates, a general assignment reporter, was born in Ames, Iowa, home to the Iowa Pork Industry Center, the Pork Profit Network, and all manner of swine.
simplysallys
Junior Burger
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2005/10/13 14:57:54
Hi Michaelgemmell.
No, didn't find much worth eating near Leon....... Even asked a few locals and they didn't know of anything other than dairy queen and Caseys. We opted for the HyVee. Here in Des Moines, the tenderloins are big and meaty at our HyVees, They're cut and breaded on the spot... but the one we ate was round and pressed and fresh from a box in the freezer. Nuts. Anyway, I read this site today and you've all planted that need in me to find a good tenderloin, soon.
Wish there was something close, here in Des Moines, I don't like Porky's and George the Chili King is fair... I understand Smitty's on the south side is or used to be good. We do have culvers and machine shed. Tomorrow, I will take my son and go to one of the above. What I really want is in Solon... but I'll save that for a roadtrip. Last year we ate at Hamlin and found it to be a nice sandwich... more of a battered coating rather than the crunchy coating that is so prolific at most places. The size was a disappointment. We ordered one to split, since we expected a large sandwich and we were sad to see the sandwich was about the size of a burger, with no overhang! awwwww. Our party ordered 4 sandwiches and they were all this size. Quality was excellent. Quantity was not so great.
I'm rambling...
If anyone can recommend something close to Des Moines, we'll surely check it out!
Sally
Jim Ross
Cheeseburger
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2005/10/13 15:30:02
quote:
Originally posted by simplysallys

.....If anyone can recommend something close to Des Moines, we'll surely check it out!
Sally

In a 2004 article, Des Moines Register readers recommended these places for pork tenderloin sandwiches:

Smitty's Tenderloin Shop, 1401 Army Post Road,Des Moines
Michael's Restaurant and Lounge, 4041 Urbandale Ave.,Des Moines
George the Chili King, 5722 Hickman Road,,Des Moines
Shack's Lounge, Bayard
CJ's, Aspinwall
Community Tavern, Fort Dodge
Coon River Bar & Grill, Van Meter
Crouse's Cafe, Indianola
Dairy Sweet, Dunlap
Darrell's Place, Hamlin
Horseshoe Lanes grill, Adel
Jewel's Food & Spirits, Troy Mills
Jo's Bar and Grill, Searsboro
Joensy's, Center Point
McNamara Cafe, Prairieburg
MC Cafe, Martinsburg
Michael's, Beaverdale
Niland's Cafe, Colo
Peru Tap, Peru
Pork and More, Albion
Red Barn, Exira
Red Rooster, Iowa Falls
St. Olaf Tavern, St. Olaf (northeast Iowa)
S&J Roadside Bar & Grill, Floris
Smitty's, Albia
Suburban Restaurant, Gilbert
Tojo's, Jamaica(west of Perry)

I can't vouch for any of them besides the Joensy's in Center Point, but someone liked these places enough to write the Register reporter about them. Evidently they were a response to an article about the Iowa Pork Producers organization naming Darrell's in Hamlin the best tenderloin in the state.
cindyloo
Cheeseburger
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2005/10/18 09:34:10
Here is a link to today's article in the Des Moines Register about the newest winner.

http://www.dmregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051018/LIFE/510180364

Cindy
ScreamingChicken
Filet Mignon
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2007/04/30 10:15:31
I had a tenderloin at George's on Saturday. I liked the thickness of the meat (guesstimated at 1/4" to 3/8") and bun overhang (1/2" to 3/4" all around), it wasn't overbreaded, and it was hot and juicy. Mustard was the only condiment I chose.

I'm no tenderloin expert but I liked this one and would order it again.

Brad
DanM9001
Junior Burger
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2007/10/03 20:04:05
quote:
Originally posted by Porker93

Does anyone know the name of the town & the cafe north of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, (I'd guess maybe about 15-20+ miles north just off Hiway I-380.)?
I had visited the area a year ago or so, & the people I was with took for me a drive north of town a few miles on the freeway, & made a right/east back into this small town.
At this small town cafe, they were well-known for their Pork Tenderloin sandwiches. They were excellent & huge, ...
Now I can't find any information about either, & I'm planning on going back that way next week & would like to find this place again to share it with some other family traveling with me.

Anyone know the details?!?
DanM9001
Junior Burger
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2007/10/03 20:05:14
quote:
Originally posted by Porker93

Does anyone know the name of the town & the cafe north of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, (I'd guess maybe about 15-20+ miles north just off Hiway I-380.)?
I had visited the area a year ago or so, & the people I was with took for me a drive north of town a few miles on the freeway, & made a right/east back into this small town.
At this small town cafe, they were well-known for their Pork Tenderloin sandwiches. They were excellent & huge, ...
Now I can't find any information about either, & I'm planning on going back that way next week & would like to find this place again to share it with some other family traveling with me.

Anyone know the details?!?
DanM9001
Junior Burger
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2007/10/03 20:08:56
You may be thinking of a town called Solon which is North of Iowa City (which would make it about 10 miles southeast of Cedar Rapids. There is a restaurant (a bar and grill) called "Jonesies" that is famous for its tenderloins. They aren't bad....I've had better, but they are BIG and also thick. If you're in the area, I would recommend stopping by. They are closed on Sundays.
sigerson
Junior Burger
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2007/10/04 00:17:30
quote:
Originally posted by DanM9001

You may be thinking of a town called Solon which is North of Iowa City (which would make it about 10 miles southeast of Cedar Rapids. There is a restaurant (a bar and grill) called "Jonesies" that is famous for its tenderloins. They aren't bad....I've had better, but they are BIG and also thick. If you're in the area, I would recommend stopping by. They are closed on Sundays.
sigerson
Junior Burger
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2007/10/04 00:21:59
quote:
Originally posted by DanM9001

You may be thinking of a town called Solon which is North of Iowa City (which would make it about 10 miles southeast of Cedar Rapids. There is a restaurant (a bar and grill) called "Jonesies" that is famous for its tenderloins. They aren't bad....I've had better, but they are BIG and also thick. If you're in the area, I would recommend stopping by. They are closed on Sundays.


Sorry for the double post. I'm just getting used to this place.

Jonsey's isn't an option right now. The county department of public health shut it down because of a roach problem. Here's the full article from today's Iowa City Press-Citizen: http://www.press-citizen.com/apps/pbc...
Davydd
Sirloin
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2007/10/04 09:08:16
That link did not work for me but I found the article. Try this one. It is spelled Joensy's. BTW, it is not the biggest nor the best in Iowa. I've had just three Iowa tenderloins so far including Joensy's and the St. Olaf Tap is larger, thicker and better, and the Townhouse Supper Club in Wellsburg was much, much better. I think this is another tenderloin restaurant that has a reputation that exceeds its delivery and promise. It would not make my top 20 on porktenderloinsandwich.com.

http://www.press-citizen.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2007710030317
barttman
Junior Burger
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2008/01/22 20:52:31
Living in the Midwest, I consider myself a connoisseur of the breaded pork tenderloin. Someone mentioned the areas between I70 and I80 from Indiana to Nebraska...outside of which a tenderloin will be tough to find. I agree. Even around Chicago, it can be difficult.

I found many places in Indiana to offer a consistently great tenderloin. Iowa as well. The poster that mentioned Illinois having the "largest" is on the money. They may not be the best tasting, but they are huge. Central Illinois especially, where everyplace tries to outdo the other. Schooners (Peoria, Morton, and Bloomington) is the largest that I have eaten (comes with 4 buns). It is 1 foot diameter. There is a little place called The Warehouse, in Hanna City, which offers the thickest and best tasting that I have had. Frankly, I think they are using the pork loin instead of the tenderloin...it is so thick.

All in all, I don't recall ever having a bad one. Culver's has the best for a fast food joint.
Davydd
Sirloin
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2008/01/22 21:47:53
barttman,

Welcome to Roadfood.com. Just about all the pork tenderloin sandwiches are really pork loin sandwiches. I find few actually use the tenderloin. Thanks for the tips about Illinois. Most know Iowa and Indiana and Illinois gets a bit lost.

BTW, the complete repository on the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich is this thread.

http://www.roadfood.com/forums/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=423
mikez629
Cheeseburger
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2008/01/23 12:14:15
Why can I not find this Pork tenderloin sandwich anywhere in the NE. I think I would love this sandwich. If anybody knows where I might get on in NJ,NJ,PA,please let me know. Does anybody have a picture of what it looks like. Why is it soooo good?
kland01s
Filet Mignon
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2008/01/23 13:22:21
mikez, check out the link that Davydd posted above. There are 29 pages of BPT information there. If you check out the last 3 or so pages, there are many good photos posted by Davydd as he searches out BPT in the Midwest.
Nancypalooza
Filet Mignon
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2008/01/23 21:00:36
Yes but make sure you have throw pillows nearby, because the pictures alone will give you the *vay-pahs*.
lam61157
Junior Burger
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2008/01/25 13:00:38
I being from the midwest consider myself a tenderloin freak . I buy them & bring them back to Va i am cooking one as we speak . Best place i ever had one was RT 80 E Morris, Illinois a truck stop called R Place be ready to get filled up ..... also Betty's on Main st in Marseilles,Illinois By fav add ones are yellow sweet peppers katsup mustard & onion. Polansic's meat market in Ottawa Illinois sell the best & fresh to take home. Although a little pricey i buy 4 packs atleast its worth all of my $$$.
HungryKYBoy
Junior Burger
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2008/02/06 02:23:17
quote:
Originally posted by simplysallys

Hi Michaelgemmell.
No, didn't find much worth eating near Leon....... Even asked a few locals and they didn't know of anything other than dairy queen and Caseys. We opted for the HyVee. Here in Des Moines, the tenderloins are big and meaty at our HyVees, They're cut and breaded on the spot... but the one we ate was round and pressed and fresh from a box in the freezer. Nuts. Anyway, I read this site today and you've all planted that need in me to find a good tenderloin, soon.
Wish there was something close, here in Des Moines, I don't like Porky's and George the Chili King is fair... I understand Smitty's on the south side is or used to be good. We do have culvers and machine shed. Tomorrow, I will take my son and go to one of the above. What I really want is in Solon... but I'll save that for a roadtrip. Last year we ate at Hamlin and found it to be a nice sandwich... more of a battered coating rather than the crunchy coating that is so prolific at most places. The size was a disappointment. We ordered one to split, since we expected a large sandwich and we were sad to see the sandwich was about the size of a burger, with no overhang! awwwww. Our party ordered 4 sandwiches and they were all this size. Quality was excellent. Quantity was not so great.
I'm rambling...
If anyone can recommend something close to Des Moines, we'll surely check it out!
Sally


Smitty's (Army Post Road & SW 14th) is great! Huge, crunchy, hot, and good. No gristle or other yucky bits in the loins. Note: closed Sundays.

Not fancy, but delicious food there!
kland01s
Filet Mignon
RE: Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches 2008/02/06 11:36:19
quote:
Originally posted by lam61157

Polansic's meat market in Ottawa Illinois sell the best & fresh to take home. Although a little pricey i buy 4 packs atleast its worth all of my $$$.


I have driven by Polancic's many times but always on a Sunday when they are closed. I finally stopped last September and although I didn't buy any tenderloins, it's a great old time meat market. I had several filets cut to order, really nice helpful people. Their sign out front say's "Home of the Jumbo Porky". They make the tenderloins used in a lot of the local bars. It's a short drive off of I-80.

Bill Polancic's Meat Market and Tenderloin Shop
412 West Norris Street (US Rte. 6)
Ottawa, Illinois
815-443-0324