A northeast Iowa mainstay is where you’ll find the 2019 Best Breaded Pork Tenderloin sandwich in Iowa. The Pub at the Pinicon in New Hampton took home the top award in the 17th annual contest sponsored by the Iowa Pork Producers Association.
Simply abbreviated as “The P.T.” (pork tenderloin), the sandwich starts with a center-cut, half-pound pork loin -- the same piece of meat that’s used for The Pub’s top-selling Boneless Iowa Chop dinner entrée. These loins are injected with their own natural juices to enhance moisture, then hand cut, coated in seasoned flour, dipped in a milk and egg wash, breaded with seasoned panko crumbs and fried.
Current owners Dale and Laura Reicks of New Hampton source all of the restaurant’s pork from Reicks View Farms in Lawler, a family farm they founded in 1979. In addition to pork tenderloins and chops, Reicks View Farms supplies The Pub’s bacon, ribs and sausage pizza topping.
“Knowing how important the pork industry is in Iowa and knowing how much Iowans love a good breaded pork tenderloin, this is a badge of honor for our restaurant,” says Phil Zwanziger, manager at the more than 60-year-old dining and events center. “The best compliment we can receive in our business is that we serve a good, tasty product.”
Zwanziger, a native of Nashua, has been involved with the business for almost 30 years, and said the pork tenderloin has long been a popular menu item. Staff has modified the breading over the years, and about a year ago moved to a brioche bun instead of a hoagie.
The breading recipe particularly helped win over chef Phil Carey, who serves on the IPPA Restaurant and Foodservice Committee and helped judge the finalists. “This year’s winning tenderloin, by far, had an outstanding breading that was well-seasoned and added great texture to the overall sandwich,” Carey says. “The pork itself was very tender and very juicy to the last bite. A great pork tenderloin.”
The Pub will receive a check for $500, a plaque and a large banner proclaiming it the winner of the contest.
IPPA judges selected Stumble Inn in Bradford as the runner-up in this year’s contest. IPPA will present that restaurant with $250 and a plaque.
Rounding out the top five finalists (in no order) are Big Al’s BBQ in Des Moines; Night Hawk Bar & Grill, Slater; and West Side Family Restaurant, Grinnell. These restaurants will each receive a Top Five Plaque to display.
The tenderloin contest recognizes Iowa dining establishments that have pork as a regular menu feature in support of Iowa’s nation-leading pork industry. The winner is announced as part of October Pork Month to celebrate the state’s dedicated pig farmers, local restaurants and their hardworking teams and a famous Midwest favorite-the pork tenderloin sandwich.