To kick off National Pork Month in October, the Iowa Pork Producers are back with their annual competition to crown "Iowa's Best Pork Tenderloin" for 2022.

According to a media release sent to this station they have crowned their five finalists, which we will get to in a minute.

How does an Iowa tenderloin qualify to be a finalist?

To say it has to be good would be too easy because aren't they all? The Iowa Pork Producers scour the state for months looking for the best tenderloin sandwich that meets the following criteria:

Qualifying pork tenderloins must be hand-breaded or battered. In addition, the Iowa restaurant serving them needs to be open year-round and offer the sandwich as a regular menu item. Food trucks, concession stands, seasonal eateries, and catering businesses are not eligible.

Who is nominated this year?

The five finalists were chosen from a group of 40 over the summer months. That list included the five restaurants with the most nominations in each of IPPA’s eight districts, which “helps ensure statewide representation" according to Kelsey Sutter, IPPA’s marketing and programs director.

It starts with public input.  Each spring, tenderloin fans have about two months to nominate their favorites. This year IPPA received 4,812 votes for 449 establishments.
PPA members and industry affiliates anonymously visited those locations and scored the tenderloins based on pork taste and quality; physical characteristics; and presentation.

IPPA’s restaurant and food service committee then reviewed those 40 evaluations and selected the five contenders to advance to the next round. That same committee appointed a panel of three judges to travel to each of the finalists to determine the first- and second-place winners. A tough gig, but someone's got to do it ;-).

Without further ado, here are this year's five finalists (with photos where applicable!)

5th Quarter Bar & Grill, Facebook
5th Quarter Bar & Grill, Facebook

When will they announce the winner?

The Iowa Pork Producers Association will announce the winning entry as well as the runner-up later this Fall. Look for and use the hashtag #porktober on social media for updates on news on the contest.

The winning restaurant will receive $500, a plaque, a banner to display, and statewide publicity that will drive new business. The runner-up is awarded $250 and a plaque from IPPA.

Iowa's 10 Most Popular Fast-Food Restaurants

10 Awesome Cedar Rapids Restaurants

More From 104-5 KDAT