Iron Horse Station – Villa Rica, GA


Sitting on the couch, indecisive about dinner, I threw out two choices, each of which were received with equal indifference.  So we headed west, originally considering a visit to J&W BBQ, but not wanting to fight the construction traffic on I-20.  We ended up, instead, at Iron Horse Station, in a building we had eaten in a decade ago when it was a home-cooking place.  We were talking on the way to Villa Rica, wondering who we might see there that we knew, and, as we walked in the door, we immediately saw a family of four that we knew.  We asked them what they liked and one suggested the fish (in retrospect, we should have listened to him).

20140502-190818.jpgWe found a table and took a seat, then looked at the menu.  There was Red Gold ketchup* on the table – an inauspicious beginning.  I don’t understand why people don’t spend the money for good ketchup – I guess that margins are tight and you cut where you can.  I think this is a short sided business decision.  I decided on a sampler platter with chopped pork, brisket and two ribs, with two sides (fries and Brunswick stew).  We asked about sauce and the server said it was sweet and red.  I asked if it was tomato-based and she said she didn’t know, but that they also had a hot mustard sauce.  We decided to have the meat served dry and asked for both sauces.  Jo ordered a brisket plate with slaw and baked beans.

Ten to fifteen minutes later the food arrived. Mine was an odd looking plate –


I had asked for the meat dry and they succeeded on a third of it.  The pork was very dry.  I tried a bite and there was very little smoke taste to it.  Nor much taste, at all.  I poured some red sauce on it (it tasted a lot like KC Masterpiece – so it was tomato and sugar based), and fairly thin.  The mustard sauce was as odd as I’ve ever had – like French’s mustard with some peppers thrown in.

The brisket was thin sliced (the thickness of double cut – eight to the pound – bacon), greasy, too tough to cut with a fork and peppery.  It reminded me more of jerky than any barbecue I’ve ever had.  Jo sent hers back and asked for some pork instead – it was just too tough.  She couldn’t tear a piece off with her hands without putting in way too much effort.

The ribs didn’t look like ribs. They were more like an amorphous blob of meat with a thick, difficult to chew, bark and a really sweet sauce cooked on it.  And the bones were ridiculously small.  As you can tell, I was underwhelmed by the meats.  And then there were the sides.


The slaw and baked beans were okay, from across the table, but I did notice her adding a large amount of barbecue sauce to the beans.  The fries were fresh and hot and appeared to be house-cut, but they were limp, like they weren’t fried long enough.  And I didn’t enjoy the stew at all.  It had a smell that put me off immediately. 

This was a bad call and we won’t be going back.  We’ve (sadly) gotten to the point where we don’t expect many restaurants on the West side, Outside the Perimeter, to be good (there are exceptions), but you’d think that the more rural you are, the better the barbecue would be.  That was not the case here.

Iron Horse BBQ on Urbanspoon

* their web site is, for goodness sake


  1. Chefhelen · · Reply

    The only thing that I hate more than frozen fries (tots, however, are another matter entirely!), is restauranteurs who want to have an “upscale” fry then FAIL to learn how to fry French fries properly. You have to blanch them in 300 degree oil FIRST, hold and cool, THEN fry until crispy at 350 – 375 degrees. And adding to the pain of the soggy fries, the crap ketchup. Oy.

  2. Vickie Crenshaw · · Reply

    Oh Andy I’m sure you would have found something wrong with the fish also! I hope everyone reading your blog realizes that this is the opinion of one person not the hundreds that go through there in a weeks time! If you are on the west side give Iron Horse a try and form your own opinion! Thank you!

    1. I don’t know that I would have found fault with the fish.

      This blog is definitely my opinion – I’m sure others enjoy Iron Horse (apparently you do), otherwise they wouldn’t stay in business. For those that read regularly, they know that I rarely find a place that I don’t enjoy. Maybe it was an off night when we went to Iron Horse, but the “brisket” was bad enough for me to never go back.

  3. Vickie Crenshaw · · Reply

    I’m sorry to hear you had a bad experience at Iron Horse! I frequently go there and know the owner. He is a member of Ephesus and does several things for church and we always have good food from them! You will know his aunt and cousin.Please give them another chance maybe Sunday lunch after church.

    1. I’m glad to hear that the experience of others have proved better than ours. And we heard the fried fish was very good.

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