Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I Like Big Buns and I Cannot Lie

Smitty’s Tenderloin Shop
1401 SW Army Post Rd.
Des Moines, IA 50315

We’ve talked quite a bit about the importance of buns on

After all, who wants to bite into an enormous sandwich -- filled with all kinds of wonderful stuff -- and then face sheer heartbreak as a soggy, wimpy bun self-destructs and sends meat-and-cheese ooze dripping down your wrists onto your freshly dry-cleaned Suit?

That’s why I’ve always thought buns are like the offensive lineman of sandwich ingredients. 

They don’t get a lot of notice, but they’re absolutely critical to the success of the “team.”

And like offensive linemen, buns have to be BIG right?

I mean how are little tiny buns going to hold up with an enormous slab of meat shoved between them anyway?

Little did I know my whole bun outlook would be changed at Smitty’s Tenderloin Shop in Des Moines, Iowa.

The pork tenderloin sandwich is a Midwestern staple you can find from Indiana to Minnesota – just one not quite as famous as Chicago’s deep-dish pizza or Cincinnati chili. 

It’s also one of those must-try foods I’d never had the pleasure of sampling and was really looking forward to as I rolled up to Smitty’s that Friday.

Smitty’s has been serving Des Moines, Iowa since 1952. 

And walking in the door, I immediately noticed that the place absolutely reeked of wholesome.

It was as if I walked into a Norman Rockwell painting in the middle of the prayer.

Beside me was an elderly couple sitting quietly eating their fries who looked like they had been coming there since the place opened. 

They were being served by a perky, cute high school girl wearing jeans, and a Smitty’s t-shirt and hat. 

For some reason, she didn’t have any tattoos, or “extra” piercings and she wasn’t “sagging” or otherwise trying to add her personalized rebellious stamp to the Smitty’s uniform.

The cook manning the grill behind the counter was clean-cut, clean-shaven and looked like he probably hadn’t ever done any drugs.

I know what you're thinking . . .

"But I thought drug use was one of the main requirements for being a cook!!!"

True.  So did I.

For this reason, I wasn’t sure what to expect of the food.

When the waitress made it over to my table, I didn’t take long to decide what to order.

I was there for the "King Tenderloin" -- a pork tenderloin sandwich which I ordered basically straight up minus the ketchup.  At Smitty’s that means it comes with mustard and onions.

They also had a version with chili, but I needed to see what the plain Jane was like first before I drifted into the exotic.

I also ordered a size of onion rings which turned out to be fantastic.

To drink, iced tea. 

Of course, this being Des Moines, Iowa, it came unsweet. 

When my pork tenderloin sandwich arrived, I was taken aback.

I’d seen one in photos before, but seeing it in person just boggled the mind.

The fried and breaded meat was so big and so stiff . . . how could the small buns handle it?

Putting the sandwich up to my mouth and biting into it, Suit 69 had a revelation.

This sandwich was totally about the meat.  It wasn’t about the buns.  It wasn’t about the condiments.

It was solely about the meat.

And what can go wrong with fried and breaded pork?


Improvements Suit 69 would recommend?

Given the choice, I’d probably want mayo and a pickle instead of mustard an onion for this bad boy.

Some drippy coleslaw might be a nice touch.

But all that would just be window dressing.

This is pig.  Fried.

And in my book, that’s always going to equal awesome.

Walking out of Smitty’s, I felt like a changed man. 

Maybe, when it comes to buns, it’s not really about the size.

Maybe, just so long as the bun is warm and soft and has the firmness to keep a gigantic slab of meat stiff, maybe they don’t have to be huge after all . . .

Maybe sometime small is juuuuuussssstttt right.

Rating:  Bought the Shirt!


  1. I love that place! And so convenient to the TSA crotch-gropers at the airport.