Craving a Tenderloin

If you have ever lived in the Midwestern United States, you will probably know exactly what I’m referring to in the title of this blog post without reading further. The Pork Tenderloin Sandwich (just referred to as “Tenderloin” by those in the know) is a mouth watering bit of culinary heaven that you won’t find just anywhere.

Okay, maybe “culinary” is the wrong word. You are most likely to find the best tenderloins in locally owned “Mom and Pop” type dairy bars, cafes or delis in America’s heartland. Chain restaurants rarely (if ever) get it right, so if you are looking for your first tenderloin, you will definitely want to search out a place that really knows how to make them. Go into any small town in the Midwest, ask where you can get a good Tenderloin, and the answer you receive will be where you want to go. Locals will definitely have the insight needed for the search. If you wander far beyond the borders of Iowa, Indiana and maybe Missouri…your order of a Tenderloin will probably be met with a blank stare. For some reason, the trend hasn’t spread.

So what is a tenderloin? Well, let me tell you…. A Pork Tenderloin sandwich is usually prepared from a thinly sliced piece of pork tenderloin, hammered thin with a mallet. The meat is then dipped in flour, eggs and breadcrumbs before being deep fat fried in oil. Some places may offer a grilled version, but it’s not nearly as tasty as the fried original. After cooking, the prepared Tenderloin is then served on a generous bun (almost always with a large portion of the meat hanging over the edges). You can usually tell if the tenderloin will be worth its weight in gold, by asking what the restaurant considers appropriate toppings. Most die hard tenderloin lovers will insist on one or all of the following: ketchup, mustard, pickles and onions. That is all. The yummy sandwich usually comes with a side of French fries or onion rings, but should never by violated with the addition of mayo or lettuce.

Honestly, you can’t beat a well prepared tenderloin. It’s topped my list of favorite foods for years. Throughout my current pregnancy it’s the one thing I think I’ve craved more than anything else (even chocolate ice cream), and I just can’t seem to get enough.

My birthday was last week, and hubby offered to take me anywhere for a birthday meal. My choice? A posh French restaurant? No. A swanky tapas bar? No. A local butcher/deli which boasts the city’s best tenderloin (and rightly so)? You betcha! They even sell a tiny version (aptly named the “little piggy”) for children. Little Guy ate his right up. It may have been the very best part of my birthday celebration.

Sadly (or maybe luckily) our favorite tenderloins are reached only after a bit of a drive. If that weren’t the case, I’d probably be stopping to get one every day. If you ever find yourself in my neck of the woods, I’ll direct you to all of our favorite spots for this fantastic Midwestern treat!


  1. I, too, LOVE tenderloins, but good ones are getting fewer and farther between. Your post (and picture) made me so hungry for one!

  2. That is one huge sandwhich! I live in the midwest but never met a sandwhich that big!! And a Happy Birthday to you.

  3. Ahhh, tenderloin. The official food of Indiana. YUM!

  4. Makes me wish I could pop over to the Double R-you know what I'm talking about! (the only food I order that violates the "never eat anything bigger than your head" rule). If I want a tenderloin, I have to make it from scratch myself! Lots of great food in the south, but nary a t-loin to be found. We have stumbled across them from time to time, but they usually call them a pork fritter normally and they just ain't quite right! If we ever see
    tenderloin" on the menu, we know there is a fellow midwesterner around somewhere!



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