New York has their thin-crust pizza. Texas has their BBQ. Chicago prides itself on a different, but equally tasty, pizza pie.
Different parts of the country have different foods they are known for. In Indiana, the pork tenderloin reigns supreme. Just about anywhere serving food in the Hoosier state has an option – from the small, local joints to the more established upscale, and you can’t forget the state fair either.
As with any dish, there are many variations on the theme. In this, a special two-part inaugural edition of Mojo Munchies, we are going to be exploring just a few of the best choices across the city. Ignore the Food Network and any other “expert” that has only tried the thin, dry excuses for tenderloin you’ll find at the “classic” spots; these tenderloins are the real deal.
Fellow foodie and new Indy Mojo contributing writer Erin Gobble and I visited four different establishments from different areas of the city. (Throughout the article Erin’s words will be featured in red, like so.) In this first part we are going to the Tie Dye Grill on the east side and Big Daddy’s on the near south side.
Big Daddy’s Bar & Grill – 2536 South Meridian St.
If you are looking for a thin, fear-inducing tenderloin this is it. This is what I consider the mama bear of tenderloins. It is thin but not too thin. The size is impressive, but you don’t loose out on the taste of the pork or the juiciness that makes for a good tenderloin.
We ordered the tenderloin for two. It comes with a separate plate and bun so you can garnish your meal how you choose. Prepare yourself because this sandwich is meant for two – the tenderloin comes out the size of a flat basketball, but still maintains some thickness. Even now my mouth is watering thinking about the cornflake crust seasoned to perfection with a slight pitch of heat. The sandwich crunches as you bite down, and as always my eyes were bigger than my stomach, but my taste buds left me wanting more. Perfection.
If you go on your own the Tenderloin comes in at 8.99 and includes kettle chips. The tenderloin for two that we ordered adds two dollars; however, between the chips and the sandwich itself, two people will most likely still be taking food home with them. The atmosphere is your basic sports bar; prepare yourself to be packed in if you go during any Colts or Notre Dame game. Outside of those high-traffic scenarios, you can normally get a table pretty easy and the food comes quick.
Tie Dye Grill – 1311 N. Shadeland Ave.
The next restaurant holds a special place in my heart. I trace my love of cooking and exploring food back to the year I spent employed here with a good portion of that time as a line cook. Have you ever known someone that works at a restaurant but would never eat there? This is not the case at Tie Dye Grill; they have become an east side institution and the reason for that is their attention to the quality of their food.
Driving up to this restaurant, I didn’t know what to expect, but I soon realized I was in for a real treat. The restaurant is decked out with a 60’s theme, the staff are dressed in tie-dye and the food is served in red baskets that gives the feel of an old soda shop. First up: the fries, covered in bacon, scallions, cheese, and Shayne Salt. Next up: the main attraction: the tenderloin. As it arrives at the table, you can tell it is grilled to perfection. The tenderloin is normally only a Tuesday special, but we were able to pull some strings to get one on a Saturday, which is why it was grilled instead of my preferred breaded version. After the first bite, I didn’t mind it being grilled; the bold flavor of the well-seasoned tenderloin was satisfying. Shayne Salt is the right kind of flavor and I wouldn’t mind getting my hands on that secret. Shayne Salt is the special seasoning that the Tie Dye uses on many of their dishes, the seasoning is a secret of Tie Dye owner Shayne Dye.
As mentioned above the tenderloin is normally just a Tuesday special at TDG, as can be imagined Tuesdays end up being an extremely busy day. The Tie Dye Tenderloin is everything I think a tenderloin should be. They don’t abuse their meat and beat it thin. However you want it prepared it comes out juicy, flavorful and with just enough hanging over the bun to scare small children. If you are hankering for this masterpiece, make sure you plan ahead; they have been known to sell out. At $7.95 for just the sandwich the price is comparable to Big Daddy’s, but it’s worth a couple extra bucks to throw in for the fries as well.
With that, we conclude the first part of our Tenderloin Excursion, but be sure to check out part two coming up soon. If you have a favorite tenderloin spot, leave us a note in the comments!
Also be on the look out for more foodie goodies as the Mojo Munchies are just getting started! Stay hungry, Indy.