Hitting the High Notes: the Historic Iron Horse Grill

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The Restaurant: If there was ever a come-back kid of restaurants, Iron Horse Grill is it. Resurrected in 2014 after being abandoned since 1999 and suffering two mysterious fires, this southern- style pub fare with rests in the location of one of Jackson’s historic landmarks with a rich heritage. What once began as a smoke house in 1906 is now a place for dining, music, culture, and music history.

The Atmosphere: The smell of old hickory charcoal fills the air and tickles your taste buds hits you as soon as you exit your vehicle. Once inside, the woodwork and iron fixtures makes for a modernized, edgy and rustic touch to an industrial backdrop. The piped music varies from rock & roll to blues, to funk. Once seated, a stage with a beautifully painted mural encompasses the walls.

Upon my entry, the hostess graciously and quickly ushered me to my seat with virtually no wait time. The wonderful aroma of hickory and mesquite guided my senses to the steaks and ribs sections of the menu.

The Menu & the Food: My mouth and mind were pretty well set on the 14 oz. USDA choice hand cut ribeye steak, an Iron Horse Specialty. There was something about that old hickory charcoal in the air which sealed the selection deal for me. It came with a loaded baked potato and daily vegetables. I added a side house salad to ease the guilt of preparing to consume 14 oz. of wonderfully marbled steak.

I ordered an Arnold Palmer with my meal and it was served with a hint of southern nostalgia, in a 20 oz. mason jar. The perfect touch for a southern-style pub.

As I awaited my meal, I enjoyed some fresh, well-seasoned tortilla chips and salsa.

When my dish arrived, I went for the veggies and loaded potato first. Admittedly, the loaded potato was nothing to write home about. The vegetable medley – your standard broccoli, carrots, cauliflower blend, had great flavor. I’d most likely substitute the loaded potato for another side on subsequent visits.

Now to the meat of the matter. The ribeye was the perfect medium-well with just enough pink in the center to suit my fancy. The char-marks were reminiscent of a work of chargrilled art. The seasoning, just a tad underwhelming. Each bite carried the distinct hickory flavor of the coals and grills, which were enough to carry it over with a bit of A-1 steak sauce. In the end, it was 14 ounces of grilled goodness.

My husband had the charcoal chili bowl. A typically simple dish, this version of chili had hearty chunks of smoky meat, fresh onions, cheese, and a very gracious dollop of sour cream. A man’s bowl of chili, the Charcoal Chili was a home run – or so I heard before looking up to discover the bowl now empty!

The Service: Taylor was my server. She was accommodating, attentive to our tableside needs, and took great care to ensure my order was cooked to my desire. I look forward to checking out the music museum and some live music on my next visit. I am also looking forward to dropping in for brunch with a few friends, soon, too.

Carlyn Hicks

Carlyn Hicks, founder of Jackson Foodies, lover of all things culinary, pro-Jackson advocate