The Times photo by Betsy ReasonRon Ripberger loves the hand-breaded tenderloin at Erika’s Place in Cicero, part of the Tenderloin Trail and participating in the 2017 Tenderloin Tuesday specials that kick off Tuesday in Hamilton County.
The Times photo by Betsy Reason

Ron Ripberger loves the hand-breaded tenderloin at Erika’s Place in Cicero, part of the Tenderloin Trail and participating in the 2017 Tenderloin Tuesday specials that kick off Tuesday in Hamilton County.

After Vacation Bible School on Friday, I was getting ready to order lunch with my daughter and her friend, Chloe Zerr, at Noblesville Jim Dandy, when I saw the Wet Tenderloin on the menu. My former Noblesville Ledger editor Don Jellison loved the dish, so I thought I would give it a try while the girls took advantage of the lunch buffet.

That started me thinking about pork tenderloin sandwiches and Hamilton County's 2017 Tenderloin Trail. And finding out what it is about the "size-of-your-face patties" that bring people to the table.

Tenderloin Tuesdays kick off on Tuesday and run through July 25 as Hamilton County celebrates Indiana's favorite sandwich, the breaded and fried pork tenderloin.

While the Tenderloin Trail includes 50 restaurants that sell tenderloin, more than two dozen restaurants in Hamilton County are offering discounts on tenderloins every Tuesday during this promotion by Hamilton County Tourism. The annual event has stayed popular since it started in 2009. Trail-goers can even get a Tenderloin Trail T-shirt, designed by Vardagen creative T-shirt design store in Fishers.

The tenderloin has been an Indiana favorite since Nick's Kitchen made the first crispy patty in Huntington, Ind., in the 1900s. Today, more than 2,000 people follow the Indiana Breaded Pork Tenderloins Facebook page.

While restaurant managers and owners say tenderloins are already popular, the classic sandwich gets even more popular during Tenderloin Tuesdays.

At Erika's Place in Cicero, we found breaded and grilled choices. "They're big, and we make them ourselves," said waitress Shelby Fouse, who serves up tenderloins every evening at the small eatery co-owned by Erika Cecil-Flanders.

At just about that moment, a waitress was delivering a hand-breaded tenderloin to a nearby table for Ron Ripberger, who was dining with his wife, Karen.

"It's big, for sure. I usually cut it in half and take half of it home," said Ron, a customer at Erika's ever since he came there the first time to try the tenderloin.

"It's hard to find a good breaded tenderloin...," said Karen, who grew up eating the sandwiches. "These are close to homemade."

Erika's Place in Westfield is also on the Trail, and both locations offer a free side dish on Tenderloin Tuesdays.

At Ginger's Cafe, owner Mikki Perrine said, "We will be serving a delicious hand-breaded pork tenderloin, deep fried to perfection, (with) lettuce, tomato, mayo and onion. We will also be serving root beer floats that day." For both, it's $12.95.

At Courtney's Kitchen in Noblesville, cook Cass Courtney makes "hand-breaded tenderloin and people really like it," he said. "It's fresh-cut, pounded, and breaded....We sell quite a few of them." Tenderloin Tuesday customers get $2 off tenderloin and a free sugar cream pie bite.

At Alexander's on the Square in Noblesville, and Alexander's on the Water in Cicero, tenderloins are popular, said manager Denise Tague. "It's one of our top sandwiches" that include the choice of a 4-ounce and an 8-ounce tenderloin.

What is it about tenderloin? "It's pork, it's summertime. It's a regional thing," she said of the sandwiches that feature fresh tomatoes in season from Gatewoods Vegetable Farm in Noblesville.

Barley Island Brewing Co. in Noblesville has $1 off tenderloin, Rosie's Place offers a 20-percent discount, Copper Still Kitchen and Bar has a free cake with two tenderloin sandwiches, The Hamilton offers a free beverage, Aspen Grill has $9.99 tenderloin and a side. At Caplinger's Fresh Catch North, a tenderloin sandwich combo is $7.99.

The Trail also goes through Atlanta, at the Combine Cafe, with a free dessert; Westfield, at a second location of Erika's Place, with a free side dish, Grand Junction Brewing Co., and at the Stacked Pickle, which offers $2 off tenderloin, also at its Fishers and Carmel locations.

Other Tenderloin Trail stops in Carmel include divvy, Dooley O'Toole's, Upland Brewing Co., The Pint Room, Muldoon's. Woody's LIbrary Restaurant; in Fishers, at Nickel Plate Bar & Grill, CR Heroes Family Pub, Four Day Ray Brewing, Pinheads and Sahm's Restaurant and Bar.

For a full list of eateries serving tenderloin on the Tenderloin Trail, visit

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