7 best hole in the wall restaurants in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg

Wanna know where the locals eat in Pigeon Forge and the surrounding area? You've come to the right place (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

Wanna know where the locals eat in Pigeon Forge and the surrounding areas? You've come to the right place (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

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Seek ye, the diamond in the rough.

That’s what they want, right? They want to know the secret places only locals know.

The inside stuff. The places beyond the tourist traps and the shining neon signs.

But that’s hard for a couple of reasons. First, anything that is truly a gem shines. People are going to know about it. They’re going to tell their friends. You want to be the friend that knows the best places that has all the secrets and is the possessor of great knowledge.

So everything is relative, as it is with all of these endeavors. While I may have had nothing but fantastic encounters at some of these places, somebody else could have had a terrible time.

Maybe we’ve all been going to Paula Deen’s on off days and it’s really great most of the time and we’re just unlucky. Maybe.

Read Also: Unpopular opinion: A review of Paula Deen’s restaurant in Pigeon Forge: ‘Just OK’ 

But that lesson is important. Just because something is glitzy, in the best spot and backed by a big name, it does not make it the best.

So, without further ado, here are some of our favorite hidden gems in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and the surrounding areas:

Delauders BBQ is the local favorite when it comes to barbeque (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)
Delauders BBQ is the local favorite when it comes to quality barbeque (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

7. Delauders BBQ (Gatlinburg)

Barbecue joints are meant to be holes in the wall. Sure, you’ve got a couple of high-enders like Calhoun’s which has built an empire on smoked meat, but by and large the best barbecue you will ever have in your life comes from places that invest in smokers and meat, not decorations and seats.

What do I love most about Delauders, aside from everything on the menu?

The first thing mentioned on their web menu is that they ain’t gonna do bulk orders. Oh, you want to pay us a lot of money for a huge order? Nah. That ain’t us.

Come in here and get a sammich, some slaw and maybe a brisket and get the hell out of the way. We got real people to serve.

Read Also: Who has the best steak in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg? Here’s our top 5

Listen, you want an authentic Tennessee experience to go back and tell your friends at home? Go to Delauders, get the Holy Bologna Sandwich and thank me later.

6. Chubby’s Deli Restaurant (Sevierville)

This one is right outside of Pigeon Forge.

Gas station food is gonna go one of two ways, and either way it’s gonna be memorable. Chubby’s, located in a Citgo on Newport Highway in Sevierville, goes the right way.

Meatloaf and two sides, taters and gravy and fried okra for $8 includes bread. This is the authentic art of simple Southern dining that has been swallowed up by the usurpers and the pretenders. Go to Chubby’s and go home happy.

5. Paw Paw’s Catfish Kitchen (Wears Valley)

All right now. You want authentic Cajun cuisine? Sure you might find it in some fancy place down in New Orleans or maybe some high-end joint in Atlanta.

But if you want real Cajun cooking, start looking for the places off the beaten map. Wears Valley is not as far off the map as it was when I was a kid. Like Townsend, it’s grown up a lot. But you’re not gonna find Jimmy Buffet slinging margaritas and bland seafood down here just yet.

Paw Paws is right. Get the sample plate, two boudin balls, one crab cake, four fish nuggets and four gator bites and you’ll be talking like a Swamp People cast member in no time.

The holy trinity of gumbo, Jambalaya and etouffee are all accounted for but – as our No. 1 rule of dining states: If you’re in a place with a particular food in its name, you must eat that food. In other words, get you some catfish, son.

Either the catfish acadiana or the catfish New Orleans will do you right.

Monster Mash is known for their larger than life creations - including a 14lb burger called "The Frankenstein" (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)
Monster Mash Burgers is known for their unusual decor and larger than life creations, including a 14-lb burger called “The Frankenstein” (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

4. Monster Mash Burgers (Sevierville)

Located in a strip mall next to a TJ Maxx, Monster Mash is a burger joint that works a dark alchemy in the pursuit of the perfect burger.

Like a plain ordinary burger, maybe a pickle, a slice of cheese? This isn’t the place for you.

Leaning into the Monster Mash theme, these are unholy amalgamations that seem wrong on the menu and oh so right on the plate.

My recommendation? Try the 14-lb Frankenstein for $50. It feeds 4-6 people but if two of you can take it down, along with bacon, chili, sausages, etc. and a bowl of fries in an hour, that sucker is free.

It’s fun for the whole family and at least two of the seven deadly sins right there at the table.

Preacher's Smokehouse may look like a hole-in-the-wall, but the food is out of this world (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)
Preacher’s Smokehouse may look like a hole-in-the-wall, but the food is out of this world (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

3. Preacher’s Smokehouse (Sevierville)

Located in what can accurately be called a shack and some kind of building beside it, Preacher’s is owned and operated by a man named Sam Steele, a pastor who opened a restaurant with his wife, Kathy.

This is the kind of place you remember for the rest of your life and tell wistful stories about. Pork, chicken, burnt ends, brisket, it’s all good.

I recommend the three meat combo but, I mean, close your eyes and point at the chalkboard menu. You’re gonna get something good.

2. Tennessee Jed’s (Gatlinburg)

You had me at craft sandwiches.

Located between God’s World Religious Goods Store and a Claire’s Boutique, Tennessee Jed’s is likely the best place you’ll ever eat that directly abuts a Dollar General Store. There’s just something about a perfectly made sandwich.

I love a Rueben, a ham and Swiss, my favorite is probably the Cubano but there are no bad choices. Tennessee Jed’s also does some serious breakfast sandwiches.

If you’re in Gatlinburg and the line at the Pancake Pantry is too long, walk across the street and grab a coffee and a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich from Jed’s.

The Lil Black Bear Cafe is open daily for breakfast and lunch (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

1. Lil Black Bear Café (Pigeon Forge)

If you’re looking for something small, out of the way and delicious, you can’t do better than the Lil’ Black Bear Café.

Open from 8 am to 2 pm, the café does breakfast and lunch only. They offer soups, salads and sandwiches, which are made to order.

The menu isn’t complicated but it doesn’t have to be. The sausage, egg and cheese sandwich is the breakfast food of the gods and you could do a lot worse than the patty melt for lunch.

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Do you agree with our list? What are your favorite hidden gem or hole in the wall restaurants in the Smokies? Let us know in the comments.

Disclaimer: While we do our best to bring you the most up-to-date information, attractions or prices mentioned in this article may vary by season and are subject to change. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any mentioned business, and have not been reviewed or endorsed these entities. Contact us at info@thesmokies.com for questions or comments.


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47 thoughts on “7 best hole in the wall restaurants in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg”

  1. You forgot Frank Allen’s market and grill, as well as Nino’s Pizzeria..both exceptionally worth mentioning!

  2. Lmao……. Monster Mash Burgers…… you are absolutely out of your mind….. terrible service…. terrible food….. terrible prices….. what are you actually doing????????????

  3. The grill at Claboughs’s Campground Store has the best burgers in town! Everything is Great there!!

  4. Partons deli. Has been there 30 plus years for a reason. Sub sandwiches. In a real old fashioned atmosphere.Hot dogs to die for.

  5. The Trouthouse is unbelievable. I thought I was walking into a bait shop from the parkingbut my looorrrrdddd, best STEAK I have ever ate!!!!

  6. Blue Moose, are you kidding?! WORST meal I ever ate in Sevier County! And I am a foodie.

  7. I’ve lived here all my life. I’m 38 I know the owners of Delaudres. Best BBQ in sevier co. period. .Monster mash burgers 🙄 seriously!! Pigeon forge deli should be on here over it any day . And chubbies is awsome and you would never even expect it would be by seeing what it is ans where its at . They only do cash only so if you go there is a atm inside ran by Indian people that run the gas station and has a 3.00 fee . So take cash with you if you plan on going there .Its tha The local radio station advertising frank Allen’s market in the marathon station having the best hamburgers and hot dogs in America for me !!

  8. Bigfoots phillycheese steaks has the best phillycheese sandwich you’ll ever eat,and the New Orleans sandwich shop has the best muffuletta I’ve ever had. Love them both.

  9. I agree with other comments Monster Mash Burgess are horrible. Food was
    not edible. It was beyond terrible. My husband wouldn’t even eat it and he will eat anything. Service was terrible too!!! This place is a NO go.

  10. Elviras cafe is hard to beat, never had one bad item there, portions are perfect. Staff is great, Never been there that Elvira wasn’t

  11. Partons Deli in Gatlinburg Tennessee is a family owned business and should be on your list. They have great sandwiches and is hidden close to entrance of Gatlinburg. Been there for a very long time.

  12. Bennett’s is our go-to. Not sure if it’s considered hole in the wall, though, given
    the multiple locations, but it is family owned and run. And the food is ALWAYS mouth watering. Not to mention the staff is always super, super friendly.

  13. Agree with JT on Monster Mash Burgers…I could not even eat my food. Our server was awful and it is a lot of money for something I couldn’t eat.

  14. For me Chubbys is #1 hands down,the food is great,friendly atmosphere and just good people you have to try Chubbys to appericate it.

  15. Tried Paw Paws Catfish. It was terrible! Shoneys in Sevierville had better catfish on their food bar. So does Huck Finns. Won’t never go back to paw paws catfish

  16. I can’t believe you didn’t include pigeon forge deli. The open faced pot roast sandwich is excellent. Bread is freshly baked and the tomatoe and basil soup is EXCELLENT!!!

  17. The best place to eat is The Apple Barn you get your money’s worth the food is great and so is the service. Right at the light coming into Pigeon Forge by Walgrens

  18. The holy trinity consist of ONIONS, BELL PEPPERS & CELERY only !!! nothing else can be put in that category! Cajun and Creole food is jambalaya, gumbo & étouffée etc but they’re not the holy trinity they all have bases made of the holy trinity!

  19. I would NEVER consider Monster Mash a Hole in the wall! Their food is not good at all!!! Graze Burgers burgers is 100x better but again, it is not a “hole in the wall”.

  20. Preachers Barbeque in not in Pigeon Forge it’s in Sevier County. And I dont really like it. And Chubby Deli has bugs so want be eating there either.

  21. Will save this fir future visit to PF, but Bennett’s has great bbq, top it off with a slice if Chocolate Cake a la mode. You’kl leave hurtin’.

  22. I really hate to tell this but I feel obligated the best eating establishment in the area is the Pottery House by far the best overall experience and food in the area

  23. fire lake in dandridge. some of the best food with wide selection. Its the old cowboys on the water right on douglas lake. beautiful views of the mountains with outstanding sunsets. decks hold 75 people

  24. After reading the comments section I felt compelled to add my two cents. The title of this article is “Hole in the Wall Restaurants.” By definition, that means a small, unpretentious, out of the way place. Both the author of this piece and the commenters got it wrong. For reference, Cubby’s would be a hole in the wall restaurant. Thank you & good night.

  25. Preacher’s is awesome… Yes, it’s small and their hours are very limited, but the food is awesome and they are friendly and appreciate your business

  26. Delauders bbq for sure!!! Only heard horror stories about Monster Mash. Partons deli should have made the list, it’s a local favorite.

  27. As a NO native, PawPaws is the best local Cajun cuisine by far. Also, try the filet at Bullfish Grill.

  28. We are locals and Pigeon forge Deli should definitely be on this list. It’s locally owned and family operated. Has fresh baked bread & everything is home made . The Pretzels are by far the best in the forge. You will not be disappointed Great food & Prices and the owners are awesome.

  29. Can’t speak for the others, but Huck Finns is our new favorite. Great fried catfish and fried chicken. Large portions, and when they sat down a bowl of beans hush puppies. A big sliced onion and pickle, I was hooked. Everything was awesome, including service and cleanliness

  30. Trish’s Mountain Diner east of Gatlinburg on highway 321 is an awesome place to eat. Breakfast and lunch Monday through Thursday 7-230 and add dinner on Friday and Saturday until 8pm. Southern cooking, sizeable portions, specials each day, and delicious banana pudding and wet coconut cake. Have never been disappointed…and eat there often. Got to consider Trish’s as an out of the way place to eat even if it’s not really a hole in the wall.

  31. Best place in pigeon forge wasn’t even mentioned
    Mel’s diner.Friendly staff.great food and plenty of it.

  32. Monster Mash Burger’s was horrible. Neither myself nor my children enjoyed this place. Both the service and food was horrible.

  33. Little Mountain Eatery, it is the diamonds of eateries in the Sevierville area. The place is jammed for good reason, Ron makes everythang to order. This is and absolute don’t miss! Best Restaurant here 5 stars

  34. Best place in pigeon forge wasn’t even mentioned
    Mel’s diner.Friendly staff.great food and plenty of it.

  35. I can’t comment on some of these restaurants but the one i can comment on is Lil Black Bear Café (Pigeon Forge). Eating breakfast and talking to the owner and all the local customers you get the pulse of the community. It’s small and intimate and they food is outstanding.

  36. When we come to Gatlinburg we can’t go back home until we’ve eaten at the Best Italian restaurant. They have the best pizza and pasta dishes. 😋

  37. I’ve read all of these posts, I’ve been going to that area since 1969, all but one or two haven’t heard or eating at! The main thing to remember is the difference between a good meal and a great meal is around 30 minutes! Have a blessed day!

  38. Monster Mash had friendly staff, what few they have. Been there 3 times. First 2 were great. This last time was horrible, food terrible. And it took nearly 45 min to get our food. Main coarse came out before the the appetizers. Might try them again after staffing shortages are resolved

  39. Tennessee Jeds was amazing! Cuban sandwich was great. We will definitely be going back there.

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