Diners at Mountain Edge Grill

Hometown Dining near the Tennessee Smoky Mountains

Get a Taste of Tennessee with a Side of Southern, Smokies Hospitality

By Arielle Patterson, with updates by Julie Matthews

A vacation to the Tennessee Smokies can be the ultimate getaway. With adventure around every corner, you’ll need to refuel. Delicious dining options abound in the cities near the Smoky Mountains. Satisfy your craving for your favorite comfort foods, down-home barbecue and other Southern staples. 

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.

Tennessee barbecue
Bennett’s Pit BBQ

Mouthwatering Barbecue
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 Smokies. Local pitmasters take their craft very seriously. They are dedicated to serving locals and visitors only the most mouthwatering 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.

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 six to 14 hours to get the meat fall-off-the-bone tender. 

Southern Staples
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 Smokies 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 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.

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.

The Bush’s Visitor Center gives guests an opportunity to learn about the Bush’s history in the bean business, which began with a cannery in 1908. While there, try some Southern specialties at the Bush’s Family Cafe. Have a bowl of chili, a sandwich, an entrée, side dishes (including a variety of beans), a tasty treat and more in their Family Cafe. 


More to Eat in the Smokies
Don’t limit your Tennessee Smokies dining experience to just 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.

Mountain theme park Anakeesta boasts several dining options to enjoy throughout the whimsical attraction. From an elevated dining experience at Cliff Top in Black Bear Village to slow-smoked barbecue at Smokehouse in Firefly Village, as well as pizza, craft beer, desserts and more, overlooking downtown Gatlinburg and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 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. 

Alamo Steakhouse

The ski lodge atmosphere of Mountain Edge Grill (photo at top of page) 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.

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. Watch your pie cook in a 550-degree wood-fired oven, then savor every tasty bite.

big daddy's pizza
Big Daddy’s Pizzeria

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.

Perfect for a picnic, J.O.E. and Pop’s Sub Shoppe whips up specialty sandwiches, including Philly cheesesteaks, Reubens and Italian subs, in Gatlinburg. Choose from the variety of breads, sliced meats and fresh toppings to create your own sandwich.

the diner interior
The Diner

Enjoy a touch of 1950s nostalgia at The Diner in Sevierville. The Diner dishes out classic, bang-for-you-buck diner fare with a side of warm, friendly service.


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. 

While you’ll find a variety of tastes and flavors in the Tennessee Smokies, the one thing that these restaurants have in common is that they also serve up some good old-fashioned Southern hospitality keep diners coming back for more.