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Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches in Twin Cities?

  • d

Help me. What restaurants and pubs in the Twin Cities, Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN serve the deep fried breaded pork tenderloin sandwich more famed in Iowa and Indiana? I know of several places I'll list here, but I would like to find others. Those I know about or have been to:

Culver's everywhere
Peppermint Twist Drive-in, Delano
Minnetonka Drive-in, Spring Park (closed until March)
Ox Yoke Inn, Independence
Park Tavern, St. Louis Park
Adrian's, Chicago Ave., South Minneapolis
5-8 Club, Cedar Ave., South Minneapolis
Alleygators, Maple Grove
Buffalo Tap, Savage
Sully's, Nordeast Minneapolis (this one I haven't tried yet)
Lyon's Pub, only occassionally as a special, Downtown Minneapolis

That gives you a pretty good list if you were unaware of them. I'd like to find more. I prefer the pounded out flat as a dinner platter overhanging a hamburger bun type and not the type served on rye toast with cheese that seems more Bohemian style. But I will take all suggestions.

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  1. The Lone Spur in Minnetonka has it on the menu. I've never had it, so I can't tell you how it is.

    But, there's another to add to your list.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Danny

      The breaded pork tenderloin shows on the Lone Spur menu that is posted online from 2004 but when I went there this past summer they had a newer menu and it was no longer available. :( Have they brought it back?

      1. re: Davydd

        I never had it there, I just remember having seen it on the menu. I haven't been there in a while, so your info is probably more recent.

    2. Porky's Drive-In on University has a sign out front saying "Best Pork Tenderloin Sandwich in the Twin Cities", or words to that effect. Never tried it but should be worth a shot.

      And if you've never been there before, be sure to try the onion rings....

      Uncle Ira

      3 Replies
      1. re: Uncle Ira

        Several people whose opinions I trust say that Porky's tenderloins are quite good. The place is so cool looking, I love their sign. Does Andy's, which is not far away on University have tenderloins?

        1. re: Uncle Ira

          Thanks! Porky's. How could I have forgotten. I haven't been there. The last time I was by there was in the evening after the Back to the 50s Classic Car Show at the Fairgrounds. University Avenue was a bumper to bumper parade with the classic cars.

          1. re: Uncle Ira

            Well, I tried Porky's. If they had the best pork tenderloin sandwich they no longer do now. In fact they don't even call it that now. They call it a pork cutlet sandwich and it was batter fried and served on heavily buttered toast. It was not all that good. Edible but nothing compared to a real pork tenderloin sandwich. So you can put to rest the idea that Porky's has a pork tenderloin sandwich. The onion rings were not good. On the plus side the shake was good and the prices were cheap.

            Also is it any longer a drive in if you have to go inside to order or use a drive up window like McDonald's? My idea of an old fashion drive in is a car hop and a tray on your window. Porky's does not do that.

            If you want the true drive-in experience and a true pork tenderloin sandwich in Minnesota I recommend the Minnetonka Drive In in Spring Park or the Peppermint Twist Drive In in Delano.

          2. I went to Sully's on Central Avenue in Northeast Minneapolis today for lunch. Wow! The pork tenderloin sandwich was huge. The meat was tender and thick. One major difference from most is the coating was battered and not breaded. I find batter holds more oil than breaded and the one sandwich has now killed my appetite for the whole day. They give you a choice of bun or toasted bread. I chose the bun and found it above average.

            I drove by Porky's but passed on it since it is a drive-in eat in your car kind of place. I'll save it for next summer.

            1. d
              Doghouse Reilly

              One place I would avoid is Tony Jaro's River Garden (2500 Marshall St NE Minneapolis). I've heard other people rave about their breaded pork tenderloin sandwich but I found it to be nothing more than an overcooked pork chop on dry toast. Pretty ho hum if you ask me. But if you have a few "Greenie Slammers" first it might tast better.

              1. I drove past Johnny A's 200 Club (200W Broadway in Minneapolis) and they have a sign outside boasting about their Tenderloin Sandwich.

                There's another one to add to your list.

                1. Lyon's Pub now has a true deep-fried breaded pork tenderloin sandwich permanently on their menu as an everyday sandwich. It is served on a kaiser bun with melted cheddar cheese and BBQ sauce along with french fries. You can ask for it without the cheese and the BBQ sauce on the side if you desire.

                  Link: http://www.porktenderloinsandwich.com

                  1. I am still looking for the ultimate deep fried breaded pork tenderloin sandwich and I am still trying to cover my home state of Minnesota of course but I have branched out to Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and even Texas. Porky's in St. Paul has been tasted as well as the others mentioned in this thread. My web site covers what I have encountered so far. If anyone knows of other Minnesota suggestions I would like to hear from you.

                    I see the roll-over to this new forum is not kind to old links. Let's see if this one works.

                    http://web.mac.com/davydd/iWeb/Site/P... or the easy to remember


                    1. Aren't there laws about spreading your obsession beyond the bounds of a single food forum? :-)

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: TJ Jackson


                        Somebody has to have some suggestions I haven't found yet. Doesn't seem to be happening in the other forums. I shouldn't have crossed the border and attended the U of C. Had I stayed home I wouldn't be pursuing today. ;)

                      2. Hehe, just giving you an undue hard time :-)

                        1. The best tenderloin I have had was at a little 1 room restaurant called the Oakland Mills Store about 7 miles SE of Mt. Pleasant Iowa along a river that I seem to recall being named the Skunk? River. Awesome platter size sandwich w/ home made pies too!! The 2nd best was in Gnaw Bone Indiana, approx 12 miles east of Columbus, IN.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: DetectDave

                            DetectDave, I have been to the Gnaw Bone Food & Fuel. They "broast" their sandwich and it is a tad different. They are good but they are not the best in Indiana. Indiana has a awful lot of good tenderloins. I am attempting to exhaust my home state of Minnesota and will be working on Iowa. So far the only tenderloin I've had in Iowa is the "Biggest & Best" (their sign) at Joensy's in Solon, IA midway between Cedar Rapids and Iowa City.

                          2. I had a great pork tenderlion sandwich in Elkader, Iowa. Its the little bar (can't remember the name) next door to the Buttery (an antique/gift store well known thoughtout NE Iowa).

                            1. Keep the comments coming. I really would like to find more breaded pork tenderloin sandwich restaurants in Minnesota if anyone knows about any I have not mentioned. Iowa suggestions are welcome as well. I have been to perhaps most of the best in Indiana but will take opinions for future tours of the Hoosier state.

                              1. I remember seeing a pork tenderloin sandwich on the menu at the Nook in St Paul. I think it was a recurring special. Might be worth exploring.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: jeffmpls


                                  Good suggestion! Thanks. I called the Nook and they indeed said they had a pork tenderloin sandwich on the menu. Also a Google check shows it gets great comments and ratings for its burgers and Jucy lucys.

                                2. I went to the Nook on Hamline Ave. just south of Randolph. The Nook is indeed a nook. It is a small narrow neighborhood restaurant with a J shaped bar right when you enter and tables are one deep along one wall. The walls are decorated with topical signs and sports memorabilia such as a Monroe High School letter sweater from 1945. The Nook is the neighorhood bar/restaurant every neighborhood wished they had but few do. The specialties were hamburgers, cheeseburgers, jucy lucys, etc. The menu had a token veggie burger but said "this is not the place but if you must - $6.95.

                                  They had a breaded pork tenderloin sandwich but it was nothing special. I would guess it was a round out filler to the menu and probably came from a pre-prepared commercial food source. The kitchen simply was not big enough otherwise to support site prepared pork tenderloins when hamburgers were king. The tenderloin tasted OK but did not reach my upper tier standards. This place was pure perfect atmosphere and burgers.

                                  1. How about Maid Rite? There used to be one in Marion, IA, maybe it's still there. I think they have franchises all over Iowa. They had a huge, flat breaded and fried tenderloin - must have been about 6-8" diameter, and it dwarfed the little bun. It was almost comical looking. They put a couple dill pickle slices under the bun, but the majority of the sandwich was outside the bun.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: jb7486

                                      I will be heading down to the St. Olaf Tap in St. Olaf sometime this summer yet because the Des Moines Register put it on its list of 100 Iowa foods to eat before you die. Also, they reputedly claim the biggest whereas Joensy's in Solon, IA claims both the biggest and best on their sign. Joensy's was definitely big but I have to question best. If they are close to best then Iowa has a long way to go to match the Indiana pork tenderloin sandwiches. Eventually, I will track down the annual winners of the Iowa Pork Board pork tenderloin sandwiches. Maid Rite? Probably not. I suspect they take second fiddle to the Loose Meat sandwich there.

                                      Most, but not all, that I have tried so far are pictured here. Missing are the Brickyard Crossing in Speedway, IN, Petros in the Chicago Loop and the Nook in St. Paul, MN tenderloins.


                                      One of these days I may develop a rating system other than to say right now Nick's Kitchen in Huntington, IN was the best tasting.

                                      1. re: Davydd

                                        "Joensy's was definitely big but I have to question best. If they are close to best then Iowa has a long way to go to match the Indiana pork tenderloin sandwiches."

                                        It looks like you've done some research. Just not much in Iowa. Being on the menu of just about everywhere that serves food here, boasting the best is a common practice.
                                        Jonesy's makes a fine loin, if you're preference runs to the giant thin loins many places produce. My taste run more to the thicker, meatier loins. Michaels in Des Moines has my current favorite. Thick, large, perfectly crispy fried but not greasy. Must be the oil temp and cleanliness. I hear it is identical to the loin's from Darrells Place in Hamlin. A Iowa Pork Producers Best Tenderloin contest winner.
                                        So much research left to be done.
                                        I can tell you though, if I lived in Solon and had those loins available to me at $5.00, my health would be in major trouble.

                                    2. Here is an update. I have now identified 14 restaurants in the Twin Cities that sells a deep-fried breaded pork tenderloin sandwich. If anyone knows of others, I would appreciate hearing from you. Anywhere in Minnesota is also appreciated. Iowa and Indiana I need less help. I seem to be able to find plenty of information in those states. Still, comments appreciated. :)

                                      Culver's everywhere
                                      Peppermint Twist Drive-in, Delano
                                      Minnetonka Drive-in, Spring Park
                                      Ox Yoke Inn, Independence
                                      Park Tavern, St. Louis Park
                                      Adrian's, Chicago Ave., South Minneapolis
                                      5-8 Club, Cedar Ave., South Minneapolis
                                      Alleygators, Maple Grove
                                      Buffalo Tap, Savage
                                      Sully's, Nordeast Minneapolis (this one is battered not breaded)
                                      Lyon's Pub, Downtown Minneapolis is now permanently on the menu
                                      Porky's, St. Paul
                                      Caspers and Runyon's The Nook, St. Paul
                                      Benchwarmer Bob's, Burnsville

                                      The Red Rooster in Long Lake serves a grilled pork tenderloin sandwich worth trying.

                                      The best? Last nights sandwich at Benchwarmer Bob's just leaped to the top.

                                      1. Here are the places I have identified but I haven't tried yet that may or may not have a breaded pork tenderloin sandwich. Anyone familiar with them? Comments welcome.

                                        Lakeview Drive Inn
                                        610 East Sarnia Street
                                        Winona, MN 55987

                                        Penn Station
                                        44th & Penn Avenue North

                                        The Machine Shed
                                        8515 Hudson Boulevard
                                        Lake Elmo, MN 55042-8702
                                        +1 651 735 7436

                                        Tony Jaros River Garden
                                        2500 NE Marshall St.
                                        Corner of Marshall and Lowry
                                        (Commented on in this thread


                                        Blue Note of Winsted
                                        320 3rd Street South
                                        Winsted, MN 55395

                                        The Modern Cafe
                                        337 13th Ave. NE,
                                        Minneapolis, MN

                                        Municipal Liquor Store
                                        Mapleton, MN

                                        Johnny A's 200 Club
                                        200 W Broadway
                                        Minneapolis, MN
                                        (Noted in this thread but not commented on)

                                        1. Also a great place is the Tin Cup on Rice St in st paul.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: liney714

                                            Thanks liney, I will add it to the list and check it out.

                                          2. I've had the tenderloin at the Machine Shed. It's big, and it's pretty good, but kind of greasy. Not what I would have expected, and not at their prices.

                                            I guess I was spoiled -- grew up in Des Moines when Millie's Drive In was thriving at 2nd & University. Don't know anyone will ever match them!

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: pablozo

                                              pablozo, Nevertheless, I will have to give them their chance. I do know you can get a bad one on occassions. My first one at the Brickyard Crossing in Speedway, IN left a lot to be desired yet I know from testimonial and their feature on the Food Network that they are capable of much better.

                                              1. re: pablozo

                                                Wow! Millie's. I haven't thought about them in years.
                                                I grew up on the West edge of Des Moines (still there).
                                                I'll never forget the times when I was a kid that I'd here my mom say " Dad's going to Millie's. What's everyone want?"
                                                But like everything else, it probably wasn't really as good as I remember it.

                                                1. re: Bobfrmia

                                                  Sir, you have my admiration and respect, but you're not quite on target with your last comment: Millies WAS as good (or even better!) than you remembered. They got their butchered hogs from area farmers and prepared the tenderloins themselves -- so fresh, so crisp, so "over the bun" with pickles and mustard (had to ask for ketchup or onions...) They were too hot to eat for at least 10 minutes (5 in the winter if you did the drive-in thing!) I remember them well and they were AWESOME!!! Oh, well... doesn't matter now, does it...

                                              2. Hey, Davydd, you are correct, sir, and everything changes anyway, so I'll just have to plan a return visit! I wish there was a "local dive" (centrally located and cheap) that did them well... oh well! Thanks for this site, it's got lots of good info.

                                                1. Last night we went to Tony Jaros River Garden on the corner of Marshall and Lowery in Nordeast Minneapolis. Tony Jaros is basically a neighborhood bar with a long bar with booths across on the wall and a few tables. The "river garden" in the dark looked like a clump of weeds, trees and brush at the end of the parking lot overlooking the Mississippi River. The menu said the Minneapolis StarTribune declared their tenderloin the best. It was OK but it was not the best.

                                                  The tenderloin seemed more battered than breaded. It was served with toast and the Deluxe was served with cheese, lettuce, tomato and Mayo. It came in a plastic basket and was sliced in half. It was not overly huge. The meat was moist and tasty. Service was prompt and courteous. The atmosphere was neighborly and unfortunately not my neighborhood to become a regular. :(

                                                  1. There were comments about the Machine Shed here so it got my attention to be the next on my list. We drove over to Lake Elmo, MN just east of St. Paul to try the Machine Shed. The Machine Shed is a chain of a few restaurants originating in Davenport, IA and spred to Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois. It is a small chain "Dedicated to the American Farmer". Parked outside the entrance was a red antique Farmall tractor pulling a trailer loaded with hay bales and pumpkins for decorative effect. On entering you pass through a gift shop area. The restaurant is decorated with a farm motif. Lots of John Deere signage.

                                                    The menu is down home comfort food. But we came for the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich, their favorite seller. The price was $8.95 at dinner time. It came with french fries. It also came with a table shared fresh baked rolls and pumpkin bread for starters, cole slaw and cottage cheese. The tenderloin was served with a toasted bun, lettuce, tomato and onion with a side of mayo. So you may think since it is a chain it would be on par with a Culver's tenderloin (not bad but average) but this tenderloin was GOOD! The meat was white, thick and very tender. The breading was light, fluffy, dry and tasty. It was not greasy as mentioned in this thread. It was a quality presentation in every way. There are several other Machine Sheds. I am now curious as to whether this was of consistent quality throughout the chain or whether they have a chef on board at Lake Elmo who knows what he is doing. The sandwich is up on my pictorial web site if you want to see it at...


                                                    1. The Machine Shed is not exactly a chain, more of a hybrid.

                                                      It, as well as restaurants called Thunder Bay Grill and Johnny's Italian Steakhouse are owned by a Quad-Cities area company called Heart of America Restaurants.

                                                      They typically only have a handful of either restaurant (Johnny's, for example, only has locations in Moline, Ill,, Des Moines, Omaha, Madison and Peoria) and thus tend to not suffer from the mediocrity of large chains.

                                                      None of them are going to knock you over with outstanding chefs and challenging menus, but they are going to offer quality ingredients, quality service and reliably "good" food.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: torbee


                                                        When you search out breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches you are not going to find them in restaurants with outstanding chefs and challenging menus. ;) So quality ingredients and reliably "good" food is all you can expect. It's just good comfort food that goes good with a beer or root beer and a side order of fries or onion rings. Vegetables might consist of cole slaw, pickle, lettuce, onion, potato and tomato. Plain simple.

                                                        I'd love to see one of the name restaurants that get bantered around frequently take on the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich. They might be challenged to come up with a winner because so many of those small inexpensive mom and pop, and main street eateries are taking pride in trying to come up with the best.

                                                      2. Agreed.

                                                        Some of the best pork tenderloins I've eaten are in restaurants of dubious decor.

                                                        One of my favorites is Jonesy's in Solon, Iowa (about 10 minutes north of Iowa City and the U of Iowa.

                                                        It's basically a bar, but the tenderloins are huge and delicious.

                                                        1. Since my last post I have found two more restaurants in downtown Minneapolis with pork tenderloin sandwiches. They are the Loon Cafe on 1st Avenue and Grumpy's Bar Downtown on Washington Avenue. To keep up I added the list to my Pork Tenderloin Sandwich Blog. I also am now attempting to rate them on a 1 to 5 scale. The Minneapolis/St. Paul Twin Cities list of 19 visited restaurants as of this writing can be found at...


                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: Davydd

                                                            Bunny's Bar and Grill in St Louis Park has a pork tenderloin sandwich on the menu. It is beer battered, not breaded. Haven't tried it, but I think the rest of their food is decent.

                                                            1. re: TDS1

                                                              Thanks, I'll add it to my list. I've found several others since I originally posted here. I've got a website featuring them at porktenderloinsandwich.com.