I had heard there was a small town pub and grub in not so far away Peru, and that it served a homemade tenderloin. A recent trip to Madison County meant I could make it down the county roads to this small burgh.
A special note about unincorporated community of Peru, it is not to be confused with the township of Peru in Dubuque County. Neither is it to be confused with the South American country of Peru. But together with the incorporated town of 153 people next door known as East Peru, the area around here is sometimes referred to simply as Peru. During my visit I did not have time to verify correct pronunciation, but I assume it is to be pronounced like "pee roo". Wikipedia tells me Old Peru had an operating Post Office from 1853 to 1903. The google maps profile had ads for "Peru Holidays Packages" and "Thousands of Brides from Peru", I assume they are referring to the South American country with the same name.
Location: google says the address is 113 Brown St. on the main street with two or three occupied buildings in Old Peru, about 45 minutes from Des Moines in Madison County.
Directions: East Peru is on County Road G68, sometimes listed as Peru Road. You can reach Peru Road by taking I-35 to the Truro exit, or taking State Highway 169 south from Winterset.
The tenderloin: The from the bar area you can see the lady working the bar and waiting tables hand breads these things to order in a small kitchen. The hand breading and tenderizing means the thickness varies significantly, with folds and crunchy parts found in each bite. Each tenderloin seem to form a giant cup-like shape that holds the fixins under the toasted bun. Overall 8.0 out of ten.
Also on the menu: you can get an unbreaded tenderloin, or usual bar foods like burgers, pizza or fried stuff.
Ambiance: This is a dive bar with the regular beer posters on the wall, there is a big banner that reads "Welcome Hunters". Some fly traps were hanging from the ceiling, but those types of things add "flavor" to a place like this. Seating is available at the bar or at tables, or there is a picnic table across the street.
Service: When I visited it looked like one hard-working lady waits tables, tends the bar, runs the kitchen, and operates an antique cash register. She seemed to know the local regulars well.
Final thoughts: This may be the closest authentic small town pub and grub with a homemade tenderloin to Des Moines. The travel on the winding county roads in rural Madison County makes the trip feel longer than it truly is. The fact that this area is not on the trail of the covered bridges probably means that few visitors make it out here.