Mr. Dave’s

Hamburgers | Sandwich Shop
excellent
Worth a detour
Michael Stern | July 11, 2019
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The Midwestern tenderloin, formally known as a breaded pork tenderloin sandwich (BPT for short), is a slice of pork pounded flat, breaded and fried, then put into a bun, usually with pickles and mustard, and perhaps onion, lettuce and tomato. Iowa, the nation’s most pork-proud state, is famous for its tenderloins, but you’ll also find them in downstate Illinois as well as in Indiana, where it is believed they first were served. (See the review of Nick’s Kitchen.)

While each restaurant serious about BPTs has its own style, there is at least one regional distinction, which is that Iowa tenderloins are broad, often ridiculously broad, stretching far beyond their buns, whereas those farther east tend to be more normal-sized.

Long ago, when we met Mr. Dave Clapp, who began making and selling tenderloins in 1962 at his restaurant in North Manchester, Indiana, he poo-pooed the ridiculously broad ones, explaining that the art of tenderloin cookery is built upon balance, not extremism. There must be just enough crisp, crunchy crust to complement moist, porky insides. Pounded too thin, a tenderloin will seem dry; too thick and it loses its elegance.

Mr.  Dave no longer runs the restaurant that bears his name, but the tenderloins served here fill the bill. While not as prettily garnished as they used to be, and perhaps larger than Dave would want, they are a good balance of crisp crust and sweet pork inside, dressed with mustard, onion and pickle all secreted under the bun.

While Mr. Dave’s reputation was built on tenderloins, it always has offered much more, including hamburgers made from beef cut and ground in house, and some highly recommended broasted chicken. Cliff Strutz (Buffetbuster), who recently visited, describes the chicken as brittle and salty-crusted; and says that the broasted potatoes accompanying it remind him of mini-bakers.

What to Eat
Mr. Dave’s, Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich
Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich
Must-Try
Mr. Dave's tenderloin, 2019: condiments are secreted under the bun.
Mr. Dave’s, Black Raspberry Milk Shake
Black Raspberry Milk Shake
Must-Try
Extra-thick black raspberry milkshake is served with a spoon and a straw.
Mr. Dave’s, Broasted Chicken
Broasted Chicken
Must-Try
Brittle, salty-crusted broasted chicken. Broasted potatoes are like mini-bakers.
Directions and Hours
Information
Price
$
Seasons
Open Year Round
Meals Served
Lunch
Credit Cards Accepted
Yes
Alcohol Served
No
Outdoor Seating
Yes

Other Nearby Restaurants

  • Nick’s Kitchen

    Huntington, Indiana

    Nick’s breaded pork tenderloin sandwich is a Midwest best. Everything here is great, but save room for excellent Hoosier sugar-cream pie or an apple dumpling.

  • The Nook

    Columbia City, Indiana

    Nook wieners are grilled until crisp-skinned and placed in soft steamed buns. Locals like them with chili, onions, and yellow mustard.

  • Nick’s Country Café

    Huntington, Indiana

    Like its downtown cousin (Nick’s Kitchen), this cafe in Huntington, Indiana, specializes in breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches and farmhouse pie.

  • Village Inn

    Middlebury, Indiana

    Lunch at the Village Inn of Middlebury, Indiana, is huge and hearty farm food, but do leave room for dessert. The Pie repertoire is awesome.