An article in the Mason City newspaper alerted me to a small town sports bar with a big tenderloin in the hamlet of Thornton up in Northern Iowa. I walked inside to be met by a giant banner proclaiming "We have the biggest loins....", so I knew I was in the right kind of place.
Location: 324 Main St in Thornton, in Cerro Gordo County, Northern Iowa about 90 miles north of Des Moines.
Directions: You take exit 180 from I-35 and drive 2 miles into Thornton, Main St and Westy's is just north of the train tracks.
The Tenderloin: The loin itself was pounded thin, and took up the entire to-go box, making the bun and fixings look extra small. It formed a loosely triangular shape, and although thin it maintained a good amount of juiciness. The breading had the usual cracker crunch, but little seasoning to speak of. Served with lettuce, onions, and tomato on a corn-dusted bun. Overall 8.0 out of ten.
Price: $6.00 a good value.
Also on the menu: The menu was small with burgers and chicken, and Thursday is Taco Night. The restaurant was promoting its hamburger for the Best Burger in Iowa contest by the Iowa Beef Industry Council.
Service: I came in during the off hours, there was just one guy running the bar and the kitchen.
Ambiance: Its a small town sports bar with team banners, Chicago Bears stuff, televisions, and a bar or tables for seating.
Final Thoughts: The stretch of I-35 between Ames and Mason City or Clear Lake is one lonely stretch of road with few good options for the hungry traveler. Once you pass the Gilbert exit in Story County its like a dead zone with few options other than truck stops and fast food. Westy's and its tenderloin are not going surpass the Suzie-Q in Mason City as the best loin I have found in this area. It is a good large loin for a reasonable price, and close to the Interstate as well.