This unassuming Gatlinburg steakhouse is a favorite among locals
I made assumptions. I’m not happy about it. I’m not proud. Mistakes were made but we can all learn from them. After all, I’m as human as anybody … at least as far as you know. For years, coming the back way through Cosby into Gatlinburg, we’d drive past Alamo Steakhouse and the exterior was … underwhelming. When it came time to pick a place for dinner, my friends, I always forgot about the Alamo. Listen, we don’t judge books – nor restaurants – by their covers. Some of my favorite places in the world are little hole-in-walls where the food is terrific.
But the Alamo wasn’t a hole-in-the-wall. Had it been a little nicer or a little more seedy, it would have grabbed my attention more. As it was, I assumed it was a low-rent Texas Roadhouse rip-off, a Sagebrush and nothing more. Well, you know what happens when you assume, right? That’s right. You miss out on a dang good steak. Note: Prices mentioned in this article are as of the time of this writing.
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Alamo location and ambiance
Every good review starts with information on location, background info and ambiance. The Alamo Steakhouse, currently has two locations, one in Gatlinburg and one in Pigeon Forge. Alamo ranks amongst the best of the Johnson family of restaurants which includes:
- Bennett’s Pit BBQ
- Big Daddy’s Pizzeria
- Mama’s Chicken Kitchen
- Mama’s Farmhouse
- J.O.E. and Pop’s Sub Shoppe
- Mad Dog’s Creamery & Donuts
I will admit, neither location is super easy to spot from the Parkway or from the Gatlinburg Strip. This makes them easy to miss. But they are right off the main road, which makes them conveniently located, as long as you know what you’re looking for. The inside of each restaurant is spacious with simple decor and plenty of booths. I find that it’s perfect for a variety of occasions from intimate dinners to big birthday parties and business meetings.
What to order at Alamo Steakhouse?
What should you get if you go to the Alamo Steakhouse? Well, obviously the steak but we’ll get to that more in a moment. I grew up in Indiana where St. Elmo’s is the king of the steakhouses. There, they have what may well be the greatest shrimp cocktail in the world. And so I am conditioned – when I go to steakhouses to order the shrimp cocktail in hopes that the sauce will be as mind-blowingly shockingly horse-radishy as what is served at Elmo’s. It’s nostril-cleansing deliciousness. How do the Alamo’s shrimp cocktail ($12) and its sauce rate? It’s not St. Elmo’s, but for $12 it’s darn good. I can also recommend the Horseradish-Parmesan Prime Rib Strips ($13) and the Sombreros ($11) – crab-stuffed mushroom caps – if you’re considering appetizers. Texas Taters are also usually quite popular with my family ($11).
For the main course, they offer things that are not steak and while I’m sure they’re all very good, let’s be very clear. We do not go to the steakhouse to order chicken or seafood or salad unless those things happen to be offered as side items to go with your steak. We’re here for steak. But which one?
The best steaks at Alamo Steakhouse
At this level of steak, I don’t want a lot of frou-frou foodie business and so I find myself irritated by the Chef’s selection of Peppercorn NY Strip ($33) but will accept the Horseradish Crusted Filet ($38). The Rio Grande Rib Eye ($35) the Alamo New York Strip ($33) and the Filet Mignon ($38) are acceptable choices but the real steak connoisseurs will want the El Presidente Porterhouse ($40) or the 20-ounce ribeye simply known as “The Steak” ($40). For me, the last is my favorite not because it’s significantly better than the other great steaks in its price range but because I get to order “The Steak” like I’m John Wayne or something. Oh and don’t forget to order a sweet potato, french fries or rice pilaf (each $3) for your side and a maybe serving of the asparagus with Hollandaise sauce ($6).
If you must order something besides steak, there are a variety of other menu items available. The Chili Rubbed Pork Chops Dinner ($26) comes highly recommended. The San Antonio Chicken Dinner ($24) looks divine in all of its boneless breast, cheddar cheese and Monterey Jack cheese glory. The Santa Fe Chicken Dinner ($24) is also pretty popular. If it was me and I wasn’t going to do a steak, I’d go with the Crabbed Stuffed Shrimp for $28. As evidenced by the sombreros, I’m a sucker for whenever they shove crab into something else. And if you go for lunch, you might want to try their Alamo Bacon & Cheese Steak Burger ($12) – a huge burger with ground-fresh daily meat – a suitable steak adjacent option.
For dessert, I would strongly consider another steak (mostly kidding), but if you must have something sweet, you can’t go wrong with the Chocolate Burrito for $8. It’s basically a chocolate bar chimichanga rolled in cinnamon sugar and topped with vanilla ice cream.
Have you eaten at The Alamo Steakhouse? Did you also experience awesome food and good service? Let us know in the comments!