The Luana Tavern answers the phone by stating "Luana Tap". I get the idea this place opens at 8 in the morning and stays open until bar closing time. Unfortunately, they were sold out of breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches when I arrived at 1:45 in the afternoon. I asked about their grilled tenderloins, and they were sold out of the plain grilled tenderloin and the Mesquite BBQ grilled tenderloin. The only thing they could offer me was the Apple Cinnamon Grilled Tenderloin, and it turned out alright despite not being my first choice. If they are selling out of three different sandwiches at lunch time, they must be doing something right in this tiny burg in Northeast Iowa.
Location: 301 Main St. Luana, Clayton County in Northeast Iowa.
Directions: Highway 18/52 crosses this part of Clayton County, turn north at the gigantic Luana Bank building and cheese factory and take Old Highway 52 into town.
The Apple Cinnamon Tenderloin: The meat felt like it had been lightly tenderized, with most fat trimmed except for a tiny bit on the edges. This kind of grilled loin feels like it has tons of juice, and it runs out even forming a little puddle in the to-go box. The color ranged from the white of the pork loin to the good brown seared parts and a few darker bits. What sets this one apart is the aroma of pork and apples that filled my car for hours. That was something different. The flavor of the marination didn't overpower the classic fresh pork taste. Served on Texas Toast with butter on both sides, which adds calories and some crispitiness. This is a tasty sandwich, Overall 7.5 out of ten.
Also on the menu: the Luana Tavern has a daily menu with the basics like a breaded loin, burgers, chicken and other stuff. There are some out-there daily specials, like frog legs, broasted wings, hand breaded fish or sirloin steak.
Service: There was one lady running the bar and waiting tables, with a guy cooking in the back.
Ambiance: This giant building at the main intersection of Luana has followed the path of the town, from once being an Opera House, later a dance hall, and now a tavern with a dining room. The decorations are the usual "welcome hunters" sign, racing posters, beer signs, and bar games. There are tables and a bar for seating.
Final Thoughts: Its just seems out of place to pick up a sandwich that tastes like something from a pretentious big city bistro or gastropub in a town like Luana. The owner/operator/cook makes this place work, and it was packed with locals when I visited. I just wish they had a breaded loin in stock when I stopped by.