Welcome to Plate Of The Week, a journal about memorable dining experiences in the Twin Cities. Which plate can’t you stop thinking about? Let us know @growlermag.
One of the easiest things to love about the Hawkeye State is the regional sandwich quirks. Iowa is the home of Maid-Rites, also called loose-meat sandwiches, which are just crumbled ground beef on a white supermarket hamburger bun, and the subject of a long and partisan history.
Iowa’s other premiere sandwich, as would befit the greatest hog-producing state in the land, is the breaded pork loin. The setup is simple as can be, and it’s been perfected by grocery stores and greasy spoons from Sioux City to Davenport: Pound out a pork loin until it’s pretty thin, and then cook it fast so it doesn’t dry out. Iowans might haggle over whether this means battering or breading the loin, but either way, it’s topped with tomato, lettuce, and pickles, and the loin must dramatically overflow its standard white bun so it looks like a flying saucer.
This former Hawkeye was happy to find a local version that would easily pass muster down south: at The Original on 42nd, the sandwich shop from chefs Andy Lilja and Stephanie Kochlin in the former Colossal Cafe space on 42nd and Cedar. Their loin is breaded—which really is the way to go, since cracker crumbs impart a nice texture to a chewy loin. A juicy thick slice of garnet tomato and snappy pickles complete the package.
You might be tempted to heap some slaw onto the sandwich too, if you’re fork-and-knifing it. And that’s fine—just don’t let an Iowan see you. They’d call that some kind of heresy.