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Drive-In or Drive-On?

Thursday, April 26, 2012 @ 08:04 AM

005While I often poke fun at my new home state, Indiana has truly become a place I am proud to call home; and I’m really enjoying learning many of the little quirks that are unique to this part of the country. But if you are like me and didn’t grow up here, there’s probably a lot of “traditions” that would be new to you, including a culinary staple in these parts…the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich.

This particular sandwich is something that people from around here RAVE about and I for the life of me had never heard of it until moving here. I mean it really isn’t anything all that complicated…, a piece of pork, pounded EXTREMELY thin, battered, fried, and placed upon a bun; and as simple as they seem, everybody has their own way of dressing them up from mustard, to pickles, and cheese. And while they are on almost every diner menu in the state, there are certainly places that do them better, most certainly bigger (some so large it is comical!), and ultimately more notably than others. One such place, and this week’s PCC feature, is Edward’s Drive-In, a popular root beer stand on the outskirts of Indianapolis.

We first saw Edward’s on an episode of Travel Channel’s “Man vs. Food,” and seeing it featured like that coupled with Adam’s love for the sandwich, I knew I would be trying this soon.



The thing is, we have plenty of places in town that serve their version of the sandwich…and some are downright yummy! (nod to Miles Lab in Elkhart) Still, none of the local favorites have been featured in popular culture, so I guessed that Edward’s must be legit. So, on a trip down to Louisville just after our daughter was born, we figured a drive-in was the way to go (with her asleep in the car) and opted to hit up perhaps the Hoosier state’s most famous tenderloin spot.

While Edward’s is like your typical drive-in (something I also found are more popular in Indiana than anywhere else I’ve ever lived), they also have a restaurant you can dine in. Still, we opted to eat outside in the car for experience sake and with the baby it was a lot easier.



Having seen how large these tenderloins were, we decided splitting one and an order of onion rings would be a smarter choice and it ended up being the perfect amount, even more than enough. This thing was no joke…the bun looked ridiculous on this huge piece of meat! However, with the first bite I knew this was not really my cup of tea. While I wouldn’t say it was bad, it was just really bland to me, and nowhere near as good as one of our local favorites version of the sandwich (once again a nod to Miles Lab…whose thicker peppery seasoned version has become what I measure all others by). Adam explained that that is typically how traditional tenderloins are…, very very thin and mostly relying on the flavor of the pork.


I realized then and there that this “traditional” version is not my favorite. I ate a few bites of my half, but instead honed in on what were truly delicious…, their onion rings. Perfectly crispy yet with one bite the coating didn’t all pull off, and a nice sweet flavor from the onions and batter made these truly delicious; and as much as I love onion rings, I’d come close to saying they were some of the best I’ve ever had!

Adam, who’s had a few tenderloins in his day, said he enjoyed it, but admitted it was far from the best he had ever had. He agreed it wasn’t bad, just didn’t rank up there as the BEST (so far we both reserve that for Miles Lab version). However, we both also agreed that the onion rings were pretty fantastic and would order them again in a heartbeat!

SIGNATURE DISH: While like any drive-in Edward’s has many other basic American classics, their pork tenderloin sandwich is the big attraction and true to its Indiana heritage.

TASTE: While we both agreed it was edible, and Adam enjoyed it more than I did (he’s a true-blue Hoosier), neither of us were sold on this being the best. We are certain there are better versions of this, so for one featured in popular culture as being a standout in this category, we just weren’t all that impressed.

AMBIANCE: This was another area I was a little bit disappointed with. Edward’s is in a very industrial section of town and it just wasn’t as nostalgic as many of the local drive-ins I’ve come to enjoy. It seemed to have gone through an update within the last few years, so it just felt too new for me. I know that sounds nuts, but part of the thing I love about going to a drive-in is it feels old timey, like something you did 40-50 years ago and that is the feeling you want to get when you visit.

PRICE: For at sandwich as huge as this one, costing less than $5 is a deal! And their sides are all less than $2, so we were able to split a meal for around $7…, quite a deal if you ask me.

SERVICE: While I wasn’t necessarily sold on the flavor, we received really great service; fast and very friendly.

Overall, I was a little disappointed with my first “traditional” tenderloin experience and can’t believe this is the best my new state has to offer. Even my Hoosier husband agreed that this sandwich was not his favorite; so with that I give Edward’s Drive-In 2 ‘Little Piggies’


2 Responses to “Drive-In or Drive-On?”

  1. Gretchen says:

    As a native Hoosier, I can look at that one and say it doesn’t look like the best. My personal favorite tenderloin? The Friendly Tavern in Zionsville, IN, one of the Indy suburbs. Delicious, and good quality pork! Like Adam, this looks like what I grew up eating though!

    • Katie says:

      Thanks so much for commenting, we will have to try Friendly Tavern next time we are that way, because I need some more GOOD tenderloin education!