We were in Pigeon Forge for Father’s Day. Traffic moving towards Gatlinburg on Winfield Dunn Parkway was thick. Not impossible, but thick.
We wanted to get to the other end of the strip without fighting through traffic with all the other Pigeon Forge visitors.
So we used Teaster Lane.
What’s special about Teaster Lane?
It’s easy mode for Pigeon Forge traffic.
Running parallel to the Parkway, it’s a four-lane road that cuts time and frustration off any trip along the main strip.
Teaster Lane isn’t exactly a secret, but it has been underappreciated and under-utilized by Sevier County visitors for decades now.
That may be changing however as exciting things are once again happening on Teaster Lane.
How has Teaster Lane changed?
When I was a kid in the early 90s, Teaster Lane had a little bit of upward movement in the Sevier County stratosphere. Compared to the Red Roof outlets, the mall on Teaster Lane had cooler retail shops. A day of shopping in the Forge often meant a stop at both locations.
And then Tanger Outlets opened in Sevierville and drew the mass of outlet shopping with it. Several shops remained open, but Teaster Lane became a comparative ghost town just a few hundred yards from the lively and active main strip.
But things are changing. Thanks to The Mountain Mile, Teaster Lane is hip and happening again.
What’s The Mountain Mile?
It’s an outdoor mall of sorts. Located next to Pigeon Forge Snow, Mountain Mile features a variety of exciting new things from shopping and live entertainment as well as the adventurous Mountain Monster three-prong thrill ride.
It’s also home to Guy Fieri’s Downtown Flavortown, the celebrity chef’s restaurant and bowling alley that just opened and is hoping to take its place among Pigeon Forge’s best restaurants.
Offering a flavorful twist on American cuisine, Flavortown also offers a full-service tropical tiki bar and a 14-lane duck pin bowling alley. It’s a great place for great food and is drawing more traffic to Teaster Lane. The famed chef also recently opened the Chicken Guy in Gatlinburg.
But if I’m being honest, it’s another potential dining experience that has me excited for Mountain Mile and the future of Teaster Lane.
When is Azul Cantina coming to Teaster Lane?
I want to start this answer with a caveat. I understand that it’s a little silly to get your hopes up over a marketing campaign for a restaurant that doesn’t yet exist.
With that being said, everything I’ve seen about Azul Cantina, a new Mexican restaurant planned for the Mountain Mile, has me very intrigued.
The fact is, Sevier County is in the midst of a boom in new restaurants. Exciting culinary things are happening in downtown Sevierville as well as Gatlinburg. And perhaps I should focus more on those until we get more information.
Is Azul Cantina open in Pigeon Forge?
No, not yet. I actually went by Sunday just to see the progress on the building. The first mention I’ve found of Azul goes back to the fall of 2021 when Mountain Mile mentioned it on its Facebook page. I was hoping we’d see the restaurant open by this spring or even the summer.
The Azul Cantina Facebook page once mentioned an opening in spring 2022, but spring has come and gone.
Although I’m no construction expert, the facility doesn’t look like it’s going to be opening Pigeon Forge’s first rooftop bar anytime soon as there doesn’t appear to be a roof.
What will be on the menu?
We don’t really know what the menu is going to be other than the broad terms described on the Azul website. They promise traditional Mexican cooking styles using authentic ingredients from South America to Texas.
The food will be prepared using traditional wood-fire grilling methods for traditional Tex-Mex dining. Menu items haven’t been confirmed. However, the Azul team made a soft debut at a Cinco de Mayo event in partnership with Junction 35 Spirits and it sounds like they know their way around a taco.
In fact, one reviewer used the term “on point” twice in a 16-word review. Therefore, I feel like we know this Tex Mex menu is going to be on point if nothing else.
If we know so little, why are you so excited?
Vibes, man. Look, there are a lot of new attractions or new restaurants that get promised that never come to reality. The Azul webpage is mostly a piece of art, a beautiful rendering of a woman in Dia De Muertos makeup.
It’s striking and tasteful. In addition, it’s exceptionally far from the traditional image a Mexican restaurant coming to Pigeon Forge tries to project.
The description of what the restaurant will be is only 83 words. It’s succinct and intriguing. Equally important, it shows admirable restraint on exclamation point usage.
In fact, it describes Pigeon Forge’s first roof top bar as serving homemade cerveza-style lager, a robust cocktail list featuring top-shelf tequilas and Azul’s own Agave distilled spirits. It promises beautiful views of Pigeon Forge.
It’s very well done. And it indicates a certain amount of style and taste that makes me hopeful they can pull it off.
Beautiful views? But it’s on Teaster Lane
Look, if you get up on top of the Mountain Monster, I think you will have gorgeous (and thrilling) views of Pigeon Forge.
What will the view be from the outdoor seating on the rooftop bar? I’m not as sure. In the foreground will be a large parking lot, followed by the four-lane road and the Annex 2 shop. Certainly, it’s not exactly Mt. LeConte.
However, over the top of those, you should have the bright lights of The Island and the strip itself. You’ll have a good look at the Ferris wheel. Will that constitute beauty? I suppose that’s in the eye of the beholder.
Is there anything else cool at the Mountain Mile?
The Nike Factory outlet store is still holding in there. The Tower Shops have several cool, smaller more specific shops. The Listening Room offers live music, plus dining and drinks.
Junction 35 Distillery offers a variety of spirits and specialty cocktails as well as barbecue and burgers as well as a full service bar. It turns out there are a lot of places to drink at the Mountain Mile so it’s probably good there’s a variety of fairly modern, new hotels nearby.
Certainly, the Mountain Mile is growing.
Are you looking forward to Azul Cantina? Let us know in the comments.