Indiana Eats: Nick’s Kitchen

Go for the tenderloin, stay for the pie

Posted on Oct 24 2019 in Indiana Eats
Tenderloin and onion rings at Nick's Kitchen
The Original Breaded Pork Tenderloin with Homemade Onion Rings

No political campaign was ever won on an empty stomach. Between photo ops of chowing down with the voting public to simply needing the energy to sustain a long campaign, folks running for office just naturally gravitate to down-home restaurants serving up stick-to-your ribs kind of meals. In Huntington, such a place is Nick’s Kitchen, the birthplace of the breaded pork tenderloin.

The story goes that Huntington native U.S. Sen. Dan Quayle kicked off his successful campaign as George H.W. Bush’s vice-presidential running mate in 1988 after a breakfast stop at the venerable downtown eatery. And — all party affiliations aside — its friendly service makes everyone feel right at home. “You’re always amongst friends at Nick’s,” says State Sen. Andy Zay.

Huntington native Nick Freienstein opened the restaurant in 1908 after the hamburgers he sold from a push cart at night with a dim lantern on the courthouse square began selling like hot cakes. While he sold his interest in Nick’s Kitchen in 1929, the Kitchen has always retained his name, the same location and his original recipe for its pork tenderloin sandwich.

Along with the tenderloin, Nick’s includes a wide variety of sandwiches and other menu items you’d expect from a locally-owned, long-standing establishment: pulled pork, prime rib, breaded chicken, turkey club, hamburgers, salads, fries, cole slaw, macaroni salad, soups, and more. 

Nick’s is also open for breakfast with a complete menu of omelets, waffles, hot cakes, eggs, bacon, oatmeal and more. 

Nick’s Sugar Cream Pie

Then, there’s Nick’s famous homemade pies, like black raspberry or the Hoosier classic sugar cream; hand-dipped shakes and more. Have a favorite pie you’re hankering for? Nick’s Kitchen will bake up specially ordered pies if you give them a day in advance.

Even if you’re a politician running in a heated race or an average citizen rushing at life’s busy pace, Zay recommends slowing it down at Nick’s — at least long enough for dessert! “Go for the tenderloin,” he says. “Stay for the pie.”

If you go …

Nick’s Kitchen
506 N. Jefferson St., Huntington, IN 46750

Hours: Mon-Tues: 6 a.m.-2 p.m.; Wed-Sat: 6 a.m.-8 p.m.; closed Sundays