Hometown Helpings: The Indiana Pork Tenderloin Sandwich

Chicago has their deep dish pizza, Boston has their clam chowder (honorable mention to their creme pie).

Ever wonder what other smaller American cities claim as their ‘signature food’? This series aims to seek out those regional foods that local tourism groups love to promote while most locals wonder what the fuss is about? Along the way, we’ll take the opportunity to highlight a few of our great Central Restaurant Products customers and how they contribute to make these local foods a larger reach.

The first city we will tackle in this series is Central Restaurant’s hometown of Indianapolis.

Indianapolis: Home of Pork Tenderloin Sandwich

When you think of Indianapolis, you probably think of that 500 mile race, or that streak of highly successful NFL quarterbacks. If you travel in the food circles, you may think of the “World Famous Shrimp Cocktail” from St. Elmo Steak House. But according to local tourism boards, the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich is the “must-not-miss” attraction in Indiana.

What is It?Pork_tenderloin_sandwich

Typically, the pork tenderloin sandwich is less of a sandwich and more of a golden-brown, plate-sized meal with a tiny hat on it. Most tenderloin sandwiches are made from a pounded flat pork cutlet breaded in a buttermilk and breadcrumbs mixture and deep fried. Served with traditional fixings like mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato, most people eat half of the meal before making it to the standard-sized hamburger bun perched in the middle. Some will slice their cutlet in half to make a double-decker sandwich.

Why do Hoosier eateries have an obsession with this sandwich? It could be the involvement of the Indiana Pork Producers Association, whose 3000 family pork farmers heavily promote the sandwich option in a friendly battle with the state of Iowa, which also claims the tenderloin as its own. Nick’s Kitchen in the small town of Huntington, Indiana claims to be the originator of the the sandwich (dating back to 1908), but today, almost every locally-owned eatery has their version on the menu. From cajun-style to grilled, there is an Indiana pork tenderloin sandwich for everyone and every taste.

Must Eat Places

To determine where those “must have” tenderloins can be found, we turned to a man and his blog that is 100% devoted to this pork delicacy. Rick Garrett is the self-professed Tenderloin Connoisseur. According to his bio, he has spent the last 30 years traveling the Midwest stopping at county fairs, diners and finer restaurants looking for great sandwiches. Some of his recent reviews include:

  • 86th Street Pub is a Central customer and located down the street from our offices in Indianapolis. We were happy to hear of their “5 out of 5 bites” rating from Garrett, where he said “This is one of the best tenderloins in Indy, hands down. The meat is fresh, tender, and moist, and the breading is sublime. Nice, light, and crispy, it compliments rather than overwhelms the taste of the meat.”
The Tenderloin Connoisseur's lunch from Gatsby's Pub & Grill, from his website.

The Tenderloin Connoisseur’s lunch from Gatsby’s Pub & Grill, from his website.

  • Kunkels Drive In is located about 40 miles east on Indianapolis in Connersville, Indiana. Here, Garrett gave their sandwich 4 out of 5 bites. He said,  “I like this tenderloin quite a lot! It’s not so big as to be overwhelming, but big enough to be satisfying. It’s pounded out thin, but not TOO thin. It’s, perhaps, just a bit thinner than I prefer, but still, it’s thicker than many of the tenderloins out there.” Congratulations
  • Even the small town ethnic restaurants get into the tenderloin vibe. Garrett visited El Reparo in Brookville, Indiana where a limited American menu includes the Indiana favorite. Garrett gave their sandwich 3.5 out of 5 bites. “The meat itself was quite good!  Nice, moist, tender, and not pounded out too thin.  I liked it quite a lot!  The breading was…interesting.  It was quite unlike any I’d ever had.  Don’t get me wrong…I liked it!  It just wasn’t traditional.”
  • Your author had personally enjoyed the sandwich at Gatsby’s Pub and Grill on Indianapolis’ north west side and agrees with Garrett’s 5 bites out of 5 rating.  He says “When they brought it out, it was obviously hand breaded, and it’s sized right. It’s not so large as to be overwhelming, but it’s certainly filling.  The sandwich is seasoned PERFECTLY….and the breading stays crisp throughout the life of the sandwich.  The meat is moist and tender.  Although I was a bit skeptical at the beginning, I can say with assurance this is one of the best tenderloins I’ve ever had.  It’s a 5 out of 5, no questions asked.  Seriously.  Go get this sandwich.” Congratulations to another Central customer.

Central is Your Source


The American Metalcraft stainless steel grid basket is available from Central.

While the food is what brings your customers in, restaurateurs know that the heart of any restaurant’s success lies in their behind-the-scenes work. Thousands of restaurants across the country turn to Central Restaurant for their everyday equipment and supply needs. From cooking equipment like fryers from Pitco, Vulcan or Frymaster to unique serving options from Carlisle, Tablecraft or American Metalcraft – our product consultants can help you design a kitchen or serving experience that will showcase your signature food items. Shop online anytime, or give us a call at 800-215-9293. We’re also available for online chats when you have questions.


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