To taste Iowa’s “best” breaded pork tenderloin, you’ll have to travel to the southeast corner of the state. The River Rock Cafe in Mount Pleasant is being named the number-one restaurant in Iowa for that Midwestern delicacy this year, according to Kelsey Sutter at the Iowa Pork Producers Association. “They get all of their pork tenderloins from a local butcher right there in Mount Pleasant,” Sutter says. “Hand pounded in their restaurant and double-breaded about every other day, so it’s always a fresh product.”

Sutter says the sheer number of tenderloins sold speaks to the restaurant’s popularity with the locals, and folks from surrounding counties who make the drive. “The owners said they do about 500 a week, so that’s a lot of tenderloins for a small town,” Sutter says.

This is the 11th annual Best Breaded Pork Tenderloin competition in Iowa. To be considered, a restaurant needs at least three nominations. This year, 42 eateries were in the running out of 373 nominations statewide. “Our first round of judging is done by Pork Producer members throughout the state,” she says, “and we pick a top five out of the first round and then we have a panel from our restaurant and food service committee that goes around and judges the top five.”

As the winner, the River Rock Cafe gets $500, a plaque and a banner. The second place finisher was “209” in Paton. The rest of the top five are: the Hard Luck Cafe in Kalona, Doosky’s Pizza and Patio Restaurant in Hinton and Malarky’s Pub in Storm Lake.

(Reporting by Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)