Get a Taste of Tennessee with a Side of Southern, Smokies Hospitality
By Arielle Patterson, with updates by Julie Matthews
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.
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.
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.
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 can be found on many menus.
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
You can dine 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.
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.
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.
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.
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. If you have a craving for ice cream or baked-from-scratch goodies, head over to The Apple Valley Creamery, which includes more than 60 flavors of frozen treats!
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.