The Greatest Sandwich in the World

January 28, 2009 | Comments (0) | by Arcturus

My father was in the Air Force for the first fifteen years of my life. During that time, we spent a great deal of time in Nevada, Arizona, Germany, and Michigan. Every Christmas and summer, we would return to my parents' hometown, Streator, IL. It was there that I learned to appreciate the splendor that is the Pork Tenderloin. Until about 8 years ago, Streator was the home of a restaurant called Oogie's. (Oogie was the nickname of the owner's son. Oogie also dated my mom for a while in high school, insert your own joke here). Oogie's was a real drive-in, where you parked in a covered parking lot (the metal roofing was painted bright orange) and car-hops brought your food, which you ordered from your own intercom. Oogie's was known for their home-brewed rootbeer (I still haven't found one as mellow and fine), the world's worst fries (they were always soggy, but we ate them anyway-it was part of the experience), and for their pork tenderloin sandwich, a thinly sliced, breaded piece of pork that often was as big around as a paper plate. My family would make an Oogie's run as soon as we hit town, bringing a sack full of heavenly goodness back to my grandmother's. It was always a special treat for my brother and I, as at that time, we'd never been able to get a pork tenderloin anywhere else that we ever lived. It was a Mid-Western thing. even the years I spent in Michigan, if you mentioned "pork tenderloin", people looked at you like you were out of your mind. Sadly, Oogie's closed their doors in Streator and Ottawa right around when I began dating my wife. I really regret not being able to share such a vital part of my childhood with her.

Luckily for me, there are other restuarants here in Illinois where a pork tenderloin can be had. Hell, even Burger King offers one from time to time! I will present just a few.

1. Woody's-located in LeRoy, IL, practically across the street from my house, this truck stop diner provides bang for the buck. Their pork tenderloin sandwich is thicker than the marvel from my youth, but not as large in circumference. Dollar for dollar, Woody's has the best value, as a deluxe meal of sandwich, soup, and fries costs less than 7 bucks. Fuck McDonald's, come eat here. Being across the street hasn't helped the old waistline any, that's for damn sure. The food is surprisingly good, proving the adage that truckers know where the best food is. Extra points because their slogan is "Woody's-You Just Can't Beat It". Seriously. They sell T-shirts and everything. Stop by sometime. If you see a fat guy with a ponytail, it might be me.

2. That 50's Place-located in Dwight, IL. That 50's Place looks like a diner from the 50s, albeit one replete with life size statues of Elvis and The Blues Brothers. Like Woody's, their food is solid truck stop diner fare, reasonably priced. They get extra bonus points for not only having a pork tenderloin on the menu, but offering the option of serving it on a pretzel roll. If you've never had the pleasure of eating a sandwich on a pretzel roll, then you sir have not truly lived. The flavor of the pretzel roll and the pork tenderloin go together like two long lost lovers. Extra points for offering a side of cheese for your fries.

3. Tommy's-located on the Illinois Wesleyan campus, in the Hanson Student Center. This little restaurant on campus delivers prime pub food. They make a pretty tasty slab of pork on a bun, served with your choice of curly fries or waffle fries. Good stuff. After 8pm, you can even get beer here, which totally rocks. If only this place had been there when I was attending college. Maybe that's a good thing though, as the Freshman Fifteen would probably have been the Freshman Fifty. Extra points for being within walking distance of my office.

4. Schooner's-located in Bloomington, IL. As much as I loved Oogie's tenderloins, Schooner's has created the ultimate in breaded pork goodness. Their tenderloin is over 1/2 an inch thick and always as big around as a plate. They cut this greasy monster into 4 triangles and give you the option of purchasing extra buns. You're going to need those extra buns, because this monster is impossible to eat otherwise. The damn thing could feed a village of those starving kids you see on TV. Even if you eat like I do, you'll need three friends to help you out. Or save some for later. I like to hit Schooner's in the afternoon, eat a quarter of the tenderloin there and take the rest home. It's lunch and dinner that day for me and the wife. Beside being big, it tastes fucking awesome. The McRib? This thing craps McRibs, son. Extra points to Schooner's for also having the best fucking Buffalo wings I've ever had. Get a basket of wings and a tenderloin and make sure you brought your portable defibrillator with you.