While history seeps from nearly every pore of McFaul’s IronHorse Tavern in Parkville, much of what is concocted behind its bar and prepared in its kitchen is refreshingly contemporary. That combination has made it one of the most popular spots in Baltimore County since it opened in 2012.
Its location, on the east side of Loch Raven Reservoir, was home to a blacksmith’s shop in the 19th century and, in the ensuing years, housed a post office, a VFW hall, and ice cream shop. The iron horse name is a nod to both the train station that once was across Cromwell Bridge Road and to the late Ernie Tyler, the Orioles’ legendary umpires’ attendant who worked 3,769 consecutive home games between 1960 and 2007. (Cal Ripken Jr. called him “Baltimore’s true Iron Man.”) Newspaper stories about Tyler, who was co-owner Walter Glen McFaul III’s and general manager Nick Molinaro’s grandfather, adorn some of the walls.
A cozy, homey feel permeates the tavern, which includes several dining rooms (one with a fireplace), an outdoor space, and a bar in the back. The cocktail list changes three times a year, and when we stopped by in October seasonal flavors were front and center. A pumpkin Old-Fashioned, made with pumpkin butter from Weber’s Cider Mill Farm in Parkville, screams fall. A whiskey apple cocktail is prepared simply enough—Woodford Reserve bourbon is mixed with juice from fresh Granny Smith apples, poured over ice, and garnished with a dehydrated apple slice—but tastes like a revelation. It’s refreshing and warming at the same time, which is tough to pull off. An autumn mule is made using fat-washed butter rum, spiced apple bitters, apple cider, and lemon ginger beer.
Every seasonal cocktail we tried was terrific, but if cold weather favorites aren’t your thing, classics like a Cosmo and Sazerac are solidly made as well. Multiple kinds of mules, margaritas, crushes, and even oyster shooters are available, along with a solid beer and wine list.
New chef Fili Marin took over the kitchen in September, and the revamped menu reflects some of his sensibilities. We had never had fried devil eggs before, and the four chickpea crusted eggs filled with crab meat didn’t disappoint. Neither did the excellent smoked Old Bay wings, which were moist and pulled lightly from the bone. Other items, like a Peruvian half chicken, paella, bacon-wrapped meatloaf, and beef pot pie, aren’t found on most bar menus, and we’re looking forward to trying them all.
McFaul’s draws customers from throughout the county, and on one of our visits, a Friday evening, the bar was packed and people were waiting outside for tables in the dining rooms. A guitarist was setting up to play in the bar area, and everyone who was drinking, slurping down raw oysters, or eating anything else seemed to be having a great time.
More than a decade after it opened, McFaul’s, like an iron horse—or iron man—is still going strong.