Finger Lickin’ Food with a Side of Southern Hospitality
A vacation to the Tennessee Smoky Mountains can be the ultimate getaway. With adventure around every corner, you’ll need to refuel. Delicious dining options abound in the cities surrounding the Smoky Mountains. Satisfy your craving for your favorite comfort foods, down-home barbecue and other southern staples. Then, tempt your taste buds with new flavors that chefs in the Smokies are cooking up to appeal to our ever-changing palates.
Whether you’re taking in the fall foliage or the flowers in full bloom on a warm sunny day, enjoy your meal while basking in the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains. From babbling streams to the natural wildlife, visitors can expect to be surrounded by the sights and sounds of nature during their meal.
Barbecue in the Tennessee Smoky Mountains
Towering brisket sandwiches, pulled pork simmering in sauce and slow-smoked ribs. These are the types of dishes you can expect to eat in the Tennessee Smoky Mountains. Local pitmasters take their craft very seriously. They are dedicated to serving locals and visitors only the most mouth-watering barbecue. The Smokies tend to follow the flavors of Carolina-style barbecue, using more vinegar and tomato-based sauces. Whether you prefer a dry rub or a rack of ribs slathered in sauce, you’ll understand why Tennessee serves up award-winning barbecue.
“We take barbecue very seriously,” says Kelly Johnson, co-owner of Johnson Family Restaurants. “We’ve been doing barbecue for over 27 years.”
At Bennett’s Pit BBQ you can expect a meal that is tender and packed with flavor. Bennett’s uses the “low and slow” technique for cooking barbecue. Their chicken, chopped pork, ribs and beef brisket are basted in their signature sauce, then smoked over hickory wood for 6–14 hours to get the meat fall-off-the-bone tender.
Barbecue traditions run in the family at Buddy’s Bar-B-Q in Sevierville. Since 1972, Buddy’s has been serving up barbecue favorites across east Tennessee. Try one of the filling barbecue dinners or a sandwich with pork, chicken, ham or turkey. Buddy’s also specializes in home-style meals.
Southern Staples in the Smokies
Another cuisine that’s sure to get your taste buds watering is classic Southern cooking. Start your day off with a warm buttermilk biscuit, topped with thick gravy. Or, enjoy eggs over easy with a couple of slices of country ham. While most of the country may only enjoy ham during the holidays, a country ham is prominent in Southern kitchens and restaurants.
To properly enjoy chicken in the Tennessee Smoky Mountains it has to be hot and fried. The fried chicken recipes you’ll find in local restaurants have been passed down from generations. A foundation of Southern cooking, fried chicken can be mild and topped with hot sauce or blazing with flavors and spices.
From the land to the sea, catfish is another popular protein you’ll find on Southern plates. Much like chicken, this fresh catch is best served battered and fried.
Visitors come from far and wide to get a plate of tasty sides and a hearty meat. In Southern restaurants, this is called a “meat and three.” Your meal is not complete without a piece of sweet cornbread, a serving of rich, creamy macaroni and cheese or another delicious side dish.
“Fried chicken, mashed potatoes and country fried steak,” Johnson says, “we feel like those are our heritage here and it’s important to do them right.”
Mama’s Farmhouse in Pigeon Forge takes family-style dining to the next level. They serve up large, all-you-can-eat portions for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Enjoy their made-from-scratch, award-winning biscuits, topped with homemade fruit butter, or crispy pieces of fried chicken until you and your family are stuffed.
Dinner with a View of the Smoky Mountains
Don’t limit your Tennessee Smokies dining experience to just the Southern comforts and barbecue. Wine and dine over an upscale meal in a restaurant filled with rustic charm, that maintains the comfort of the Smoky Mountains. From rotisserie chicken to fresh-caught seafood, you’ll enjoy an intimate meal while overlooking the vast mountain range.
A robust glass of red wine and a tender steak represent quintessential fine dining. Alamo Steakhouse is known across the region for aging angus steaks to perfection over an open oak fire. These flavorful steaks are hand cut and seasoned in-house. Their professional meat cutters trim each and every steak to ensure the perfect amount of marbling.
While Ober Gatlinburg is best known for their thrilling attractions, they also have their own restaurant. Seasons of Ober Gatlinburg showcases a menu inspired by the flavors of the season. Enjoy a variety of hand-cut steaks, chicken and pork entrees, all grilled to perfection and served with homemade sides. Finish your fantastic meal with a signature dessert like the German-style French toast or Southern pecan pie.
The ski lodge atmosphere of Mountain Edge Grill offers a comfortable spot to dine and kick back. Watch a sporting event on one of their multiple TVs, then order a dish, fresh off the grill, like hamburgers and chicken. Their menu offers familiar favorites, but if you’re looking for something unique and rustic, try their half-pound buffalo burger.
Click here for a Mountain Edge Grill coupon.
Casual Dining near the Tennessee Smoky Mountains
For some well-known flavors that are sure to please the whole family, grab a slice at a local pizza joint. Big Daddy’s Pizza uses house-made dough, sauce and the freshest ingredients. Big Daddy’s is so committed to serving the freshest ingredients that they don’t even have a freezer on site. Watch your pie cook in a 550-degree wood-fired oven, then savor every tasty bite.
Family owned and operated since 1984, Geno’s Pizza has been serving locals and visitors at their three locations in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and Kodak. Geno’s makes their fresh dough daily for your pizza pie. Try one of the specialty pizzas or get it “any way you want” by choosing from the many fresh ingredients available.
Click here for a Geno’s Pizza coupon.
Whatever you choose for breakfast, lunch or dinner, be sure to save room for something sweet. Nothing will satisfy your sweet tooth like a slice of pie, homemade cake or one of the other desserts you’ll find made fresh. Try a piece of fresh fudge from Fudge Shoppe of the Smokies, with two locations in Gatlinburg.
Click here for a Fudge Shoppe of the Smokies coupon.
While you’ll find a variety of tastes and flavors in the Tennessee Smoky Mountains, the one thing that these restaurants have in common is that they also serve up some good old fashioned Southern hospitality.
“There’s a bit of lore that country folks are friendly,” Johnson says. “We strive to serve excellent food with friendly service. We really want vacationers to feel welcome.”
With a variety of dining options, from authentic mountain cooking to seafood, steaks and international cuisine, you’ll have no problem finding a restaurant to fill your belly and make you smile.
Dinner and a Show: Dinner Theater near the Tennessee Smoky Mountains
Luxurious dinner theaters offer audiences entertaining performances and an exceptional dining experience. Enjoy a multiple-course dinner as you are entertained by a high-caliber show.
Watch as one of the longest running feuds in history comes to life as you enjoy dinner. The Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Show, in Pigeon Forge, is full of singing, dancing, feats of strength, jaw dropping stunts and side-splitting comedy. You’d think grandma is in the kitchen whipping up a feast when you see the portions brought to your table. You’ll love the fried chicken, pulled barbecue pork, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob and specialty dessert.
With three shows to choose from, Pigeon Forge’s Great Smoky Mountain Murder Mystery Dinner Show offers suspense, comedy and a full menu. This three-course meal begins with soup, then a main course and cheesecake for dessert. The entrée includes boneless fried chicken, a savory pork loin, mashed potatoes, green beans and a dinner roll, but Murder Mystery has so much more. Kids will love their three-course dinner with chicken fingers. There are also vegetarian, vegan, gluten free and diabetic options as well to cater to every type of diner.