Taste the hand-cut flavor at Herrera’s Tenderloin Grill

01/09/2014 2:53 PM

05/16/2014 6:23 PM

Any restaurant celebrating 80 years in business is obviously doing something right. One thing, in most cases.

Like many longtime establishments, Herrera’s Tenderloin Grill has resisted the temptation to change with the times. Instead it serves basically the same “tender” sandwich the original owner peddled out of a pushcart starting in 1932.

Herrera’s cuts tenderloins from boneless Boston pork butt and dips them in a house-made batter that regulars love: a crunchy, deep-golden envelope that makes me think of fish-and-chips. This is not a low-cal, low-fat preparation, so don’t get one if you don’t enjoy a little grease on your lips.

The toppings are what really distinguish this hungry-gal sandwich: mustard, zingy secret-recipe hot sauce, horseradish, onion and tomato on a white Wonder Bread hamburger bun.

“We don’t get fancy with the bread. We want you to taste the meat and the sauces,” said general manager Ashlee Ruhl.

Ruhl’s parents, Jess and Maria (Herrera) Brown, took over the restaurant two years ago when her grandfather, Ricardo Herrera, retired. Ricardo Herrera bought the business in 1975 from the Nabor family, the original owners. The third generation of Herreras has safeguarded the legacy built by three generations of Nabors.

“We keep it simple — burgers, the pig snoot sandwich, a fish sandwich and tenders, made the way our customers like them,” Brown said.

She forgot to mention the homemade fries, cut every day from fresh potatoes and fried behind the large nine-seat counter where you can watch. The interior of Hererra’s features stucco and tile with a vaguely Mediterranean feel: The Nabor family was of Lebanese descent.

The Hererras have made their mark with a fabulous stained glass sign of a pig that says “Pig Snoot Heaven,” a relic of a short-lived 1980s second location in Westport.

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