Other than Snappy Lunch in North Carolina, Montana is the only place we know where pork chop sandwiches are a passion. You can find them served throughout the Treasure State, but the right place to eat a pork chop sandwich is the city where they were invented, Butte. Uptown, in the historic district to the north where timeworn brick and stone buildings still bear billboards painted long ago advertising smokes, fireproof hotel rooms, and saddleries, you will also spot several signs, new and old, touting pork chop sandwiches.
They’ve been Butte’s favorite since 1924, when John Burklund began selling sandwiches of breaded pork fried to a crisp from the back of a wagon located on the corner of Mercury and Main Streets. In 1932, John opened his first store in a small nook of the Doyle Hotel. It was a counter, ten stools, and a walk-up window for sidewalk traffic; and for until the newer Pork Chop John’s opened on Harrison Avenue, this literal hole in the wall remained the focal point of pork chop culture in Montana. Across from old China Alley, the original John’s always had a couple of al fresco tables on the sidewalk; but most business was always been walk up/carry away.
The connoisseur’s way to eat a sandwich is “loaded,” meaning topped with pickle chips, mustard, and onions. (Mayo, cheese, and ketchup are also available, but must be specified.) They are a savory splurge, made not of whole pork chops (as they once were) but of ground pork that lacks any tooth resistance but becomes a moist pad of sweet pork inside its crunchy crust.