Oh, I’d see them on menus, people around me would order them, but for some reason, even up close they didn’t merit a look-see from my side of the table.
That’s changed. For the uninitiated, a pork tenderloin is a sandwich, wherein a boneless pork chop is placed on a counter and hammer until very thin, breaded, deep fried, placed on a burger bun, often served with lettuce, tomato, and mayo.
I’m willing to be persuaded otherwise, but in my mind, this is a distinctly Midwestern thing, and narrower than that, Iowa and Indiana seem to be the champions.
Of course, restaurant proprietors want their tenderloins to be tasty, so they concoct different formulations of breading and seasonings; but another factor among some operators is SIZE. Some satisfaction is derived by chefs and diners alike if the loin on the plate is as big as their plate.
Iowa even has a “Tenderloin Trail” you can attempt to conquer, a dozen or so of the best offerings as determined by the Iowa Pork Producers Council. I set out to hit a few of the stops a couple months ago, and weird, just noticed I hadn’t written them up. I will.
But Indiana, they excel in “big” tenderloins. First one I had was last year at the Oasis Diner on US 40, the “National Highway.” Read all about it here.
But on this trip, I set out to hit the iconic Ray’s Drive In, in beautiful Kokomo, IN. A small eatery, with perhaps a dozen tables in the dining room, and carhop service to diners in the parking lot, Kokomonians (?) will tell you Ray’s is a must stop. And I agree.
I ordered the “King” Tenderloin, and my table mate went for the regular ‘loin.” There is a distinct difference. If you love pork, and you’re looking for excellence in flavor and texture, you’ll be happier with the King than the regular. Even if you can’t finish it (I couldn’t). They even have different breadings.
Ray’s King Tenderloin rates in the top three sandwiches I’ve had anywhere in the world, at any time. It’s worth a side trip.
I had every intention of ordering onion rings but “tots” came out of my mouth, and compared to the fries (they are priced the same), the tots order seemed a little skimpy. Didn’t matter, I helped myself to the fries (another dish not finished), and if I would have skipped the taters all together, I could have made more of a dent in the ‘loin.
Did I say I loved this sammich? I did. Pix below and portions of the menu. I’m sure the other entrees and daily specials are home-cookin’ quality. And BTW? It’s pretty cheap to eat at Ray’s.
Rays Drive In Review