Friday, July 1, 2016
The Drake Diner has a reputation as a place where Drake students go to eat with their families when their parents come to town for a visit. The menu graphics reinforce the family appeal of this place. The Drake Diner has a good thing going with all these Drake students and guests from the hotel next door, the place is busy and probably gets more people than any other spot in the Drake neighborhood.
Location: 1111 25th St near Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.
Directions: you turn south on 25th from University Ave while driving through the Drake neighborhood in Des Moines.
Online at: Website is HERE.
The Tenderloin: The tenderloin doesn't look big at first, and feels like just six or seven ounces compared to the bigger ones I've seen at other places. The breading has a great golden brown color and forms a fine thin layer but doesn't have much seasoning to it. The pork meat has a consistent texture like it was tenderized in a machine at the meat department, and the white pork loin meat was steamy and moist. This was an okay homemade tenderloin. Served with onion and pickle on a big soft toasted bun. Overall 7.3 out of ten.
Also on the menu: They serve a lot of breakfasts with huge portions of eggs or pancakes or hash browns. Their lunch menu includes half pound burgers and other diner staples. Local specialties include a rarebit burger served open faced and topped with melted cheese or a deep fried cheese frenchie sandwich. Then there is a big ice cream and dessert menu.
Service: There is table service at the booths or counter service at the counter.
Ambiance: I think the building was built to resemble a classic diner from the fifties, there is a large counter area and booths and a patio area for seating. There is a lot of neon lighting.
Final Thoughts: This was a decent tenderloin at a diner famous for breakfasts and burgers. I still want to try the Rarebit burger sometime. I think I saw a plaque of recognition from the Iowa Cattlemen for their annual burger competition.
Wednesday, June 1, 2016
I had driven past the Raceway Motor Sports Cafe a few times but then I noticed a banner reading "Biggest and Best Tenderloin in Town." The racing themed sports bar has been open here since 2012 but hasn't been open on the previous times I've driven through on a Sunday or Monday.
Location: 2331 1st Ave East in Newton, Jasper County, Central Iowa. Its about 35 minutes drive from Des Moines on I-80.
Directions: You can take Main St east from downtown or take the exit from the race track and go north to Main St.
The Tenderloin: The first thing you notice here is the size. It feels like a good eight ounces pounded into a shape that doesn't quite fit into the to-go box. The very thin meat was dry on one half and only a little moist in the middle. The breading formed a crunchy and crackerlike layer that had little or no seasoning. Served with your fixings on an untoasted bun. Overall 7.5 out of ten.
Price: $8.95 with a side
Also on the menu: There are burgers and bar foods like chicken wings, but also Italian dishes like pizza or grinders or daily specials.
Service: I ordered take out from the bar but there is table service also.
Ambiance: It was too dark to take pictures inside, but there is table and booths for seating, and a bar and patio when its warm outside. There is racing gear and beer signs on the walls and flatscreen televisions to watch sports.
Final Thoughts: This is the second tenderloin that I have eaten in Newton this year after trying the Midtown Cafe in the center of town. This tenderloin was better than the one at Midtown, but I am still looking for anything really exceptional in Newton and I haven't found it.
Sunday, May 1, 2016
B-Bop's Burgers is a local chain with locations in Des Moines, the suburbs and Ames Iowa. They frequently win "Best Burger" polls in Des Moines and the chain predates the gourmet burger fad that has brought so many new burger places with high prices to the market in the past ten years. Just last year B-Bops opened its first location with indoor seating and counter for ordering on the South Side of Des Moines.
Location: 4500 Fleur Dr in the southwest side of Des Moines, Iowa.
Directions: This is just a few blocks north of the Airport on Fleur Dr.
Online at: website is HERE.
Also on the menu: The burgers from through a broiler and the fries were fresh and hot, they have a big vat holding chili.
Service: Its fast food counter service with your number called when your order is ready. Food is served in a paper bag even if you are eating inside, and you have to ask for ketchup.
Final Thoughts: This tenderloin was awful, get the burgers or the chili when you stop at B Bops Burgers. Even the chicken sandwich is noticeably better than the pork loin served here. The interior was clean and bright, the fries were hot and crispy, but don't get the tenderloin.
Friday, April 15, 2016
The Office is a small bar and restaurant on the main street of Lenox in Southwestern Iowa. The sign says "Try our Famous Tenderloins", and the IPPA named them a finalist for last years Tenderloin award.
Location: 122 N. Main St in Lenox, Taylor County in Southwestern Iowa.
Directions: you take Highway 34 from Creston and turn south on the County Road with the big Lenox sign.
Online at: facebook page is HERE.
Price: $6.45 for a sandwich this big its like they are giving it away.
On the menu: the names have office themes like The Secretary and include burgers and steak dinners.
Service: Its table service with one person serving all the tables when I was in.
Final Thoughts: I hadn't eaten a super jumbo tenderloin as big as this in a while. The nearby Elm's Club in Creston is the local legend with the IPPA Tenderloin Award and recognition from the Iowa Beef Council for their burger. The Office in Lenox compares very well.
Friday, April 1, 2016
I've been driving around Fort Dodge and surroundings for a long time now. I went to local legend Community Tap & Pizza and found an okay tenderloin, but I've kept looking. Now it seems like plenty of places have come and go over the years in the downtown area and the commercial strip. I hadn't heard of Sneakers Pub until a few months ago, and it looks like the building used to be a different restaurant. I still don't understand the appeal of naming a bar after a pair of shoes, or having shoes in the sign.
Location: 1317 Central Ave in Fort Dodge, North Central Iowa.
Directions: Central Ave is just East of downtown Ft Dodge and can be reached by taking the Business 20 turn off and turning north on 12th St or 15th St.
Online at: website is HERE.
Price: $9.25 with a side
Also on the menu: The menu is huge with burgers, wings, a "world famous rueben", fish, tacos and everything you've seen at sports bars before.
Service: There was one server working the bar and dining areas who was a little overworked when I was in.
Ambiance: This is a sports bar with a huge bar area and televisions and sports stuff tacked onto the walls.
Final thoughts: Sneakers was a nice sports bar with an alright breaded tenderloin. I haven't found a real good one in the city of Ft Dodge yet. Just a short drive from Ft Dodge I have found good tenderloins in Clare or in Paton or Ogden.
Tuesday, March 1, 2016
The Belmond Drive-In has a tenderloin on the sign, and its 2016 IPPA Best Tenderloin in Iowa Contest plaque on the wall. Then they have a sign reading Best Tenderloin in a window, and then the shirts they wear say "Hand Breaded Tenderloins" and "Full of Awesome".
Location: 215 River Ave S in Belmond, Wright County, Northern Iowa.
Directions: you take Highway 69 North from Des Moines past Webster City and this place is on the south side of town.
Price: $5.88 after tax
Also on the menu: The menu has the basics of burgers, a melt sandwich, and hot beef with ice cream shop items for dessert.
Service: There was one person working tables and one person cooking when I was in.
Final Thoughts: This tenderloin is a case of good things sometimes coming in small packages. This is my first stop in Wright County, and I hope to get back in this area when the weather warms up and more places are open.
Monday, February 15, 2016
A lot of places have come and gone over the years in Newton but this little place with the words CAFE visible on the square has been around for as long as I can recall. This is an older diner that specializes in burgers and breakfasts that had a bunch of families eating here when I visited.
Location: 120 1st St North in Newton, Jasper County in Central Iowa.
Directions: this is on the East side of the square across the street from the County Courthouse.
Online at: facebook page is HERE.
Price: $8.99 with a side
Service: its seat yourself table service with tables and booths and a counter in the back.
Final Thoughts: I had driven through Newton so many times over the years that I couldn't count. but finding a good tenderloin has eluded me. I had tried an old diner beside the Maid Rite, and I wanted to stop at a racing themed bar on the East side of town. But that place was closed on a Sunday when I was driving through, like how many racing themed bars are closed on Sunday? I remember when there was an Argentine steakhouse called Gauchos just a block of the square and I never made it in and now its been gone for ten years now.