Friday, April 15, 2011

Blue Bird in Centerville

Centerville has one of the best looking, and largest, town squares in all of Iowa. It takes a while just to walk around the whole thing. A small sandwich board advertising homemade meatloaf and tenderloins led me into the Blue Bird while in Southern Iowa recently. This is a small town family restaurant in Centerville which has been operating in different forms under different owners in the same location since the twenties. It is not to be confused with the Bluebird Diner, the recently opened retro diner in Iowa City.

Location: 108 E. Jackson St in Centerville

Directions: Its on the South Side of the town square, look for the sign.

The Tenderloin: Listed on the menu as Hand Made Jumbo Tenderloin. The whole loin was pounded thin and developed a little wave shape. Breading formed a hard crunchy layer outside the white meat. The inside wasn't as soft as most others I have tried. This was an okay tenderloin. Served on a toasted corn dusted bun. Overall 7.0 out of ten.

Price: $4.75 with fries for a dollar more.
Also on the menu: Its homemade comfort food including meatloaf and a biscuits and gravy breakfast served all day.

Service: Its table service with an attentive waitress also running the counter.
Ambiance: This is a historic building on the square with old booths and an antique counter, but it has been refurbished multiple times under several owners over the decades. There are picture of what it used to be, but now its filled with stuff for sale.
Final Thoughts: In the past few years, all of my trips to Centerville have been during the winter months. That is not a bad thing by itself, except that the main drag through town has two seasonal Ice Cream Shops each with competing hand breaded tenderloins. The Double R Dairy Bar has a giant sign with a tenderloin on it, and I get the idea they sell up to a hundred a day in the summer. Raymond's Dairy Creme is also on my list to check out. Across the square the J& K Market has a website claiming their tenderloin is the "biggest in town" and "a labor of love". I just hope I can make it back during the summer someday.


  1. I love me a good tenderloin, hence the reason I read your blog. I read this post with particular intrest because I grew up in C'ville. Although I never had the tenderloin at the Blue Bird I'm glad you mentioned The Double R and J&K Market. I have had my fair share of tenderloins (prolly nowhere near what have had) whenever I'm at a restaurant and they have a tenderloin sandwich on the menu I will order it regardless if something sounds more appealing to me at the time. After having a tenderloin fetish for the past 15 years I still consider the J&K "jumbo" as my all time #1 with the Double R's tenderloin coming in at a very close 2nd. Just for the record my #3 is the Suburban in Gilbert.

    Keep up the good reporting, your passion for the tenderloin is much appreciated!

  2. I am an Indiana native, and we like to think that we invented the 'loin, but boy, you've put together a very impressive and convincing website! What a great resource for Iowans who want 'loins and a hilarious name ("Des Loines").

    Here's a link to a 10 minute documentary I made in film school about the Indiana 'loin...

    Feel free to share, if you wish!