Smoky Mountains Dining: Southern Cuisine Soulfully Crafted
Down-home flavors cooked low and slow, served up with a side of Tennessee hospitality—that’s the culinary motto at the heart of every great Smoky Mountain eatery’s recipe for success. Ready to take a gastronomical tour of the best of the Smokies? Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge restaurants are ready to tempt your tastebuds with favorite comfort foods from hearty pancakes and fluffy biscuits, to crispy catfish and soulfully-crafted baby back ribs. In this capital of barbecue, biscuits, ham and hushpuppies, you won’t ever leave a table hungry and will always find a dish that truly satisfies the senses.
Here’s a selection of favorite restaurants in the Smoky Mountains ready to win you over with unique recipes bringing Tennessee family traditions right to your plate. Kick off your Tennessee dining adventure with a comfortable and affordable stay in the Smokies.
Mouth-Watering Choices for Smoky Mountains Restaurants
Local Goat Tavern—This Pigeon Forge restaurant prides itself on serving locally sourced and sustainable meals made from scratch. Start with the cornmeal battered Fried Green Tomatoes served with goat cheese, bacon jam, and caramelized onions, or try one of the local picks including the Baby Back Ribs or Teriyaki Kabobs. Bar selections include craft cocktails along with beers from local craft breweries. In keeping with the local theme, all the artwork you’ll find on display are works created by area artists.
Log Cabin Pancake House—Fluffy stacks of pancakes are a breakfast staple in the Smoky Mountains. At this nostalgic-themed restaurant, you can order them made with buttermilk, cornmeal, whole wheat or buckwheat. Whipped margarine and hot syrup or honey come standard with your order, or you can opt to try a house specialty, the Orange-Pineapple Supreme.
Poynor’s Pommes Frites—Savor the flavors of Germany with a piping hot Bratwurst served on a Brötchen roll—a crusty German-style hard bread. Top it with your choice of mustard, then add a side of Belgium Fries cooked until golden brown and crispy, then sprinkled with dashes of coarse ground Kosher salt. To complete this delectable dish, try a side of warm cheese, garlic, or horseradish dipping sauce.
Calhoun’s—Calhoun’s offers great portions and reasonable prices in a setting that brings the warmth of an inviting mountain lodge to mind. Visitors will love the handcrafted beer selection, served in pint sized, super mugs. While the beer is good, the food is exceptional. The menu is filled with all the hickory smoked meats you could hope for, including ribs, pork, and chicken. Calhoun’s has found a way to introduce all these flavorful meats into dishes throughout their menu. Try the Rocky Top Potato Skins with BBQ pork, cheese and bacon.
Crockett’s Breakfast Camp—Got a big appetite for a country breakfast, but a bad sense of direction? No need to worry. Crockett’s Breakfast Camp is easy to spot—just look for the giant skillets in front and go on in. Everything about this dining experience is a throwback to a simpler, more rustic era. You’ll find covered wagons, potbelly stoves and barrels lining the floor, while massive saw blades, horse collars, rustic tools and blacksmith signs hang from the walls. To further enhance the authenticity of 18th century frontier living, meals are served on long wooden tables. What will you find on the menu? How about a taste of Sweet Corn Pone, Grits, Fried Cinnamon Rolls, or the Postmasters Favorite—chicken fried steak with homestyle gravy.
Wild Plum Tea Room—This unique eatery is where Austrian-style tea house meets country charm in a rustic log cabin setting. The result is a delightful dining experience found only in Gatlinburg. Walk inside the dining area through the quaint screened front porch, and you’ll notice teahouse décor around the room, including tea pots and cups and other china proudly on display. In true teahouse style, lovely lace cloths cover the tables in the cozy dining room. Though this isn’t your typical tea room featuring tiny sandwiches and a long list of teas, they do offer a short, yet satisfying lunch menu, with perfect portions and plenty of their signature plum tea.
The Pancake Pantry—You can’t visit Gatlinburg without stopping in for a stack of cakes at this famous griddle house. Since 1960, the Pancake Pantry has been serving up a variety of pancakes, all with batters made from scratch, and the customers keep coming back for more. Diners flip for the restaurant’s hearty portions of fluffy creations like the sweet potato pancakes, Caribbean Pancakes, Georgia Peach Crepe, or Wild Blueberry Pancakes, all served in a warm and cozy cabin-like atmosphere.
Atrium Pancakes—Dine alongside a beautiful waterfall as you feast on 25 varieties of pancakes and Belgian waffles. Go nuts over Atrium’s walnut or pecan hotcakes or waffles, or try something with an exotic flair like the Caribbean pancakes, filled and topped with sliced bananas, then covered in chopped walnuts and coconut. And if you’ve got a serious sweet tooth, try the M&M’S® or chocolate covered strawberry pancakes. Prefer simpler fare? Try one of their classics like buttermilk, apple cinnamon, and blackberry pancakes, with fresh fruit compote.
The Peddler Steakhouse—The Peddler is the place you’ll want to try for some seriously good eatin’. This restaurant serves naturally aged steaks cut to your specification at the table before grilling them over Tennessee hickory charcoal. The salad bar—stocked with tasty vegetables—is a rainbow of color, freshness and flavor. Meat eaters can enjoy chicken with sweet marinades and Cajun spices that win over even the most discerning visitors. It’s said that you should never venture to The Peddler without ordering a dessert. Hot blackberry cobbler is a specialty, and the strawberry shortcake is equally outrageous.
Smoky Mountain Brewery—As one of the largest working microbreweries in Eastern Tennessee, this eatery is where great taste meets good times. Good old American fare is served here, from oven-baked soft pretzels to fried chicken tenders, Philly cheesesteak sandwiches, stacks of burgers, and huge calzones. And when it comes to the beers, microbrews are always the best. Choose from samplers, pints and super mugs of some of Gatlinburg’s finest— Cherokee Ale, Appalachian Pale Ale, and White Water Wheat, among many others.
Bennett’s Pit Bar-B-Que—At Bennett’s place, you’ll find real Hickory Smoked Bar-B-Que, and plenty of it. A favorite among locals and a popular tourist spot, Bennett offers almost every type of down home style cuisine under the Southern sun. Start with the salad bar and homemade soups, and you’ll never go wrong with an order with the Cow Poke Chili, slow cooked and made with ground beef, beans, tomatoes and special seasoning. If you’re in a smoky mood, try the beef brisket, pork shoulder or Smokehouse BBQ Chicken. Prefer something off the grill? Go ahead and get the ribeye.
Huck Finn’s Catfish—Huck Finn’s Catfish serves only pond-raised, grain-fed catfish certified by the U.S. Catfish Institute. Signature lunches like fried catfish or the catfish sandwich are sure to satisfy the heartiest appetites. You can also choose from chicken livers, popcorn shrimp, grilled spicy shrimp and fried clams. Come hungry, because all items on this Southern-style menu come with “All U Can Eat Vittles.” These delicious sides include baked white beans with turkey ham, creamy coleslaw, dill pickles and sweet onions, French fries, mashed taters and gravy, and hushpuppies. Round out your meal with a decadent selection of desserts. Aunt Polly’s Homemade Cobbler, Mo’s Nana Pudding and Memaw’s Dessert of the Day are sweet to eat and made fresh daily.
Smoky Mountain Trout House—This restaurant serves rainbow trout caught in the clear, cool waters of the Smokies. Once reeled in, the fish are packed in ice to lock in flavor. You can order whole mountain trout grilled, broiled, pan-fried, blackened, smoked or cheese baked. For a truly regional taste, try the sautéed Moonshine Mountain Rainbow Trout. If you prefer turf to surf, order the USDA ribeye steak, flame-broiled chicken breast or Tennessee country ham. All are filling entrees that come with your choice of potato or vegetable of the day and homemade hushpuppies. For a sweet ending to a tasty meal, you’ll want to add a slice of fresh coconut cream, key lime or lemon ice box pie.
Mad Dog Creamery & Donuts—If sugary treats are your favorite eats, be sure to visit Mad Dog Creamery & Donuts for the sweetest menu in town. This family-friendly (and pet-friendly) shop is famous for its wide variety of premium hand-dipped ice cream flavors, including black cherry, white chocolate raspberry, Smoky Mountain Fudge, Columbian Café, Yellow Brick Road, Moose Tracks, chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, Super Cow and more than a half-dozen other creamy selections. There’s also an incredible selection of donuts to choose from. These fried dough confections are available in chocolate iced with sea salt, espresso sugar, Devil’s Food Cake with peanut butter icing, lemon cream, jelly filled, blueberry with blueberry icing, French Cruller with chocolate glaze, and many more flavors. You can also order soft serve ice cream, sundaes, banana splits, milkshakes and funnel cakes.
With these amazing dining options, you’ll want to budget your vacation dollars so you can splurge on all of these good eats! Save on your getaway with an affordable Smoky Mountains resort stay. We’ve got comfortable and spacious accommodations just a short drive to the restaurant of your choice.
Log Cabin Pancake House by spablab CC-BY-ND-2.0
Wild Plum Tea Room by Jeff Cushner CC-BY-NC-ND-2.0
French Toast Pancake Pantry by Jennifer Durban CC-BY-NC-2.0
Gatlinburg Trip by Kristin Breneman CC-BY-NC-ND-2.0