Tenderloin fans might remember Town House Tenderloins, which operated out of a trailer on Army Post Road several years ago. The tenderloins won several awards, including the No. 1 tenderloin of 2006 by the Iowa Pork Producers, but city officials said the trailer wasn’t moved on a daily basis, and as a result, Town House Tenderloins closed in 2009.
It was a sad day for pork lovers, but last fall Town House’s original owners, Nick Laria and Joe Madonia, opened Nick’s on Southwest Ninth Street. It features the same hand-cut pork tenderloins using Terry Town’s original recipe. This time everything is nice and legit, and hopefully the tenderloins have a permanent home.
The new space is an old Maid Rite, giving Nick’s a retro feel. It’s not too fancy, with a dining counter where you also order, along with a few booths and tables. The booths are shiny and red, counteracting the often drab look of Maid Rites.
The tenderloins come in three sizes, king for $6.95, queen for $4.95 and pee wee for $2.95. I ordered a king, and to say it’s big is an understatement. This is one of those ridiculously massive, plate-size pieces of fried meat that seems more at home at the Iowa State Fair than an eatery. The normal-sized bun looks almost comical placed on top. But this isn’t a tenderloin that’s big because it’s been pounded down. It’s thick enough to retain its heat until the last bite.
Tenderloins are served plain, but there is a condiment and toppings bar where you can dress your own. (I recommend the homemade barbecue sauce.)
Nick’s menu isn’t super extensive, but why would it need to be? The most expensive item on the menu is an Italian beef sandwich at $7.55. You can also get grilled tenderloins, a sausage sandwich or a tenderloin-on-a-stick. Side options include fries, onion rings and cheese curds. You can add fried peppers or a slice of cheese for 50 cents.
Nick’s is simple, and in this case simple is good. If you want a burger, there are tons of fine options in town, but Nick’s knows its tenderloin is king, and it sticks to what works. Let’s just hope this new location proves to be a permanent home.
Where: 4100 S.W. Ninth St.
Hours: 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Saturday
King tenderloin ... $6.95
Italian beef sandwich .............. $7.55
Two sodas .......... $2 each
Total with tax: $19.08