A local’s guide to the best restaurants in Gatlinburg
In essence, Gatlinburg’s economy is built upon a three-legged stool of tourism commerce: Lodging, entertainment and food. And it’s probably not in that order. People come to Gatlinburg to do a lot of things, but eating remains dang near the top of the list. As such, there is a cornucopia of options. Indeed, a plethora of choices. In fact, a smorgasbord of … well, smorgasbord.
Now as a disclaimer, there’s a bit of an internal battle among The Smokies staff for the best steak. Some of us say it’s The Peddler, some of us say it’s Greenbrier. Really, both places are great. But with so many places to eat, what do you, the discriminating diner, do when forced to choose between the best of the best of the best? Here’s a list of the top 36 best restaurants in Gatlinburg TN, ranked. Note: We’ve also created a printable version of this list here.
The best restaurants in Gatlinburg by category
For a quick reference, here are some of the top-rated restaurants by category:
|Chesapeake’s Seafood and Raw Bar (437 Parkway, Gatlinburg)
|Estrella Hondumex (109 Roaring Fork Rd, Gatlinburg)
|Best Italian Cafe and Pizzeria (968 Parkway Suite #9, Gatlinburg)
|Mellow Mushroom (903 Parkway Ste 103, Gatlinburg)
|Pancake Pantry (628 Parkway, Gatlinburg)
|Delauder’s (1875 East Pkwy, Gatlinburg)
|The Peddler (820 River Rd, Gatlinburg)
20. Loco Burro Fresh Mex Cantina
Loco Burro may not be the most authentic Mexican food on the strip, but it’s good food and a fun place to eat. If you want something safe, try the fajitas. Good, reliable and not so heavy that when you get tossed off the mechanical burro you’ll be in danger. In addition, Loco Burro’s rooftop bar is a great place to unwind and do a little people-watching from a safe distance. The food is pretty good and you have to actively be trying to be a stick in the mud not to have a good time. Loco Burro is located at 735 Parkway #1, Gatlinburg, TN.
19. Wild Plum Tea Room
This local favorite has sandwiches, salads, burgers and unique creations like Lobster Pie, all of which are made fresh daily. The recipes are passed down through families and neighbors and the atmosphere is far from the typical high-paced turnover of Gatlinburg restaurants. It is definitely worth a visit on your next trip to town. They also offer a dog-friendly patio. But do keep in mind, this is a small mom-and-pop style operation. At the time of this writing, this lunch-only restaurant is only open 3 days a week (Thursday, Friday and Saturday) from 11 am-3 pm. Reservations will be required. The Wild Plum Tea Room is located at 555 Buckhorn Rd, Gatlinburg, TN.
18. Mama’s Chicken Kitchen
Mama’s Chicken Kitchen is the sister restaurant to Mama’s Farmhouse in Pigeon Forge, a family style restaurant. A member of the Johnson Family of Restaurants, Mama’s Chicken Kitchen does things a little differently than its Pigeon Forge counterpart. At Chicken Kitchen in Gatlinburg, the chicken and sides are served by the plate or by the bucket if you order to go. It’s perfect and delicious for a picnic in the Smoky Mountains. I think their chicken and dumplings are the best in Gatlinburg and the second best in all the Smokies right behind The Old Mill in Pigeon Forge. The Chicken Kitchen is located at 1244 East Pkwy, Gatlinburg, TN.
17. Best Italian on the Parkway
Some people – ordinary people – name their restaurant after themselves, Johnny’s. Some people find a concept and run with it … looking at you, Bubba Gump. The people behind Best Italian on the Parkway? They just put it right there on jump street. You know what you’re getting before you walk in the door: The Best Italian. Great pizza. Famous garlic rolls. Traditional Italian dishes like Chicken Florentine or Chicken Marsala. The Linguini & Clam Sauce – which is a little hard to find in the Smoky Mountains – is quite good as well. Best Italian is located on the Gatlinburg Strip at 968 Parkway Suite #9, Gatlinburg, TN.
16. Tom & Earl’s Back Alley Grill
I don’t know Tom. And I don’t know Earl. I traditionally avoid eating foods prepared in a back alley – unless it’s one of those back-alley food court things you find in other parts of the world. However, Tom & Earl’s wraps, sandwiches and specialty drinks are quite good. And Tom and Earl’s is just a great hang. A place to come and enjoy the evening when you have nothing more on the agenda than eating a little, drinking a little and enjoying the evening. There is live music on Fridays and Saturdays when closing time is a little up in the air. Tom & Earl’s is located at 651 Parkway #110, Gatlinburg, TN.
15. Atrium Restaurant
The Atrium is open daily from 8 am to 1 pm. Breakfast offers the usual items of pancakes, bacon and French toast. I’m a fan of the Famous Apple Pancake, served with apples and brown sugar along with apple syrup. It’s really good. If you’re a big eater at breakfast, the house specials just may be your thing. The Hungry Bear comes with four eggs, any style, four pancakes, home fries and your choice of meat. The Mountain Man Platter comes with two eggs, two pancakes, home fries and an 8 oz. ribeye. You can add bacon or country ham for a little extra kicker. For lunch, it’s sandwiches, burgers and fried chicken. Sides include fried okra and fried green tomatoes. Honestly, I could make a meal on those alone. With more than 20 years in the business of serving the Gatlinburg tourist trade, you know Atrium is going to be good or it won’t still be around. The Atrium Restaurant is located at 432 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN.
14. Smoky Mountain Trout House
A trout house is what they promise and a trout house is what they deliver. The menu features 10 different fresh rainbow trout dishes as well as pasta, steaks and seafood. Of the trout dishes, the Eisenhower is probably the best. Breaded in cornmeal and fried, served with a side of sautéed mushrooms and onions, it’s a classic. The Trout House is located at 410 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN and does accept reservations.
13. Three Jimmy’s Good Time Eatery
Usually, when a place advertises karaoke and cornhole, I’m heading the other way. But Three Jimmy’s is no ordinary place. Located a little bit off the main strip, Three Jimmy’s is comfort food and good times. It’s right there in the title. Barbecue options include pulled pork, beef brisket and ribs as well as a USDA prime smoked ribeye that’s excellent. Comfort food options, straight from your grandmother’s recipe book, include chicken pot pie, open faced roast beef and Southern fried catfish. Three Jimmy’s also has a surprisingly good selection of artisan pizzas for a place that has a cornhole board. The Blackberry Pie features blackberry chipotle sauce, hickory smoked pork, caramelized onions, bacon, gouda and mozzarella. Certainly, it is an excellent choice if you’re looking for something off the beaten pizza path. The Smoky Mountain – with smoked pepperoni, ham, Italian sausage, smoked bacon, and mozzarella – is a more traditional choice. Three Jimmy’s Good Time Eatery is located at 1359 East Pkwy #F, Gatlinburg, TN.
12. Ole Red
While it can be hard to get a table at Ole Red on a busy night, I find that they have surprisingly good food in a relaxing atmosphere. And the best part is, it’s a great place to catch some live music. The menu has standard bar food: Tacos, nachos, fried chicken, salads, sandwiches, burgers, catfish, fries, tater tots, etc. You shouldn’t expect anything too upscale, but it’s not bad, and the atmosphere makes it all worth it. Ole Red is located in downtown Gatlinburg at 511 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN. Try to go on off-peak times for best results.
11. Cumberland Jack’s Leconte Kitchen
A newcomer to the Gatlinburg restaurant family, Cumberland Jack’s is part of the KBS Restaurant Group, which brings us great places to eat including Crockett’s Breakfast Camp, The Greenbrier and Holston’s Kitchen. At Cumberland Jack’s, you’re greeted with complimentary soup in a tin coffee cup with a basket of buttery rolls. For the main course, they offer dishes like beef liver and onions, pot roast, fried chicken, mountain trout, pork chops and more. I ordered the fried catfish with a few classic country sides, and I was not disappointed. Cumberland Jack’s is located at 1019 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN.
10. Crockett’s Breakfast Camp
Sometimes a restaurant menu can be a little too precocious. Crockett’s Breakfast Camp already has one strike for being named after someone who was named after the famous Davy Crockett. Luckily, everything gets better from there. Crockett’s Breakfast Camp, named after David Crockett Maples who served in the Civil War and lost his legs to frostbite and spent the last years of his life walking around on wooden feet, offers everything I want out of a breakfast camp. This includes French toast, waffles, griddle cakes as well as true cathead biscuits. My favorite is the Elk Mountain Grande Burrito is made with three eggs, machaca, chorizo pico de gallo and jalapeños. Crockett’s is open for breakfast and lunch daily from 7 am-1 pm. They are located at 1103 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN.
9. Howards Restaurant
Located in the heart of the strip, Howards is a bi-level destination with a steak house downstairs and a pub upstairs. Billed as Gatlinburg’s oldest restaurant – predating even the Pancake Pantry – Howards is a great spot to enjoy some Gatlinburg tradition. There’s nothing terribly out-of-the-ordinary on Howard’s menu, but you don’t need food that is shocking to be great. For example, the Hot Chop Steak Sandwich is a winner and pairs excellently with a Bloody Mary. Howard’s is located at 976 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN.
8. Alamo Steakhouse
The Alamo at number 8? I can almost hear half the internet exclaim: “This is the worst thing to ever happen at any Alamo anywhere!” You see, the Alamo is a fantastic restaurant – many people’s favorite in the entire city. It is legitimately great. But in my book, there are a couple of steakhouses that are better, and a list with nothing but steakhouses at the top would be really boring. That being said, a meal starting with the Alamo’s shrimp cocktail followed by the El Presidente Porterhouse with asparagus and button mushrooms is a last-meal-worthy affair. Alamo Steakhouse is owned by the Johnson Family of Restaurants who also own and operate Bennett’s Pit Bar-B-Que, Big Daddy’s Pizzeria, Mama’s Farmhouse, Mama’s Chicken Kitchen and Mad Dog’s Creamery. They currently have two locations in the Smokies, one in Pigeon Forge at 3050 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN and one in Gatlinburg at 705 East Pkwy, Gatlinburg, TN.
7. Delauder’s BBQ
Delauder’s BBQ is a holy place. It is a shrine devoted to the divine art of smoked meats. I’m a fan of their Five Meat Plate. I said, FIVE. MEAT. PLATE. Specifically, you get ribs, pulled pork, brisket, grilled chicken breast and smoked sausage plus your choice of two sides, the best of which are the fried mac n cheese, fried okra and collard greens. It’s consistently one of the best BBQ restaurants in Gatlinburg. But as with many of the more hole-in-the-wall style restaurants in the Smokies, Delauder’s keeps limited operating hours. At the time of this writing, they are only open four days a week (Thursday-Sunday). Thursday is dinner only. Delauder’s is located at 1875 East Pkwy, Gatlinburg, TN.
6. The Cherokee Grill
The Cherokee Grill is a steakhouse in Gatlinburg along the Parkway that offers a woodsy lodge setting. It has a traditional American menu with seafood, fried chicken, crab cakes and more. Of course, they offer a variety of steaks which is often one of the most popular selections. Order add-ons with the steak, like the Boursin cheese or soy ginger sauce. You can’t go wrong either way. They also offer free parking, a rare find in Gatlinburg. The Cherokee Grill is located at 1002 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN.
5. The Park Grill
Dine in the comfort of this rustic mountain lodge setting near the top of the Gatlinburg strip. Come for the finest meats available and stay for the salad bar that serves as the perfect complement to the meal or as a meal itself. Be sure to try the famous Shrimp and Crab Bisque if you’re big into bisques. The Yard Bird – herb-rubbed over roasted chicken – is a classic. The Baby Back Ribs are also exceptional. Certainly, If you are looking for a mountain dining experience, The Park Grill is a perfect choice. And since The Park Grill sits near the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, they like to consider themselves the official restaurant of the park. The Park Grill is located at 1875 East Pkwy, Gatlinburg, TN.
4. Pancake Pantry
A Gatlinburg classic. And Tennessee’s first-ever pancake house. Do not leave Gatlinburg without sampling The Pancake Pantry. Open for breakfast and lunch, the Pantry essentially started the trend of pancake restaurants in the Smokies. The lunch menu is light, but I’m a sucker for the Polish Aristocrat – which is just fun to order – layers of Swiss cheese, corned beef and coleslaw in rye, this grilled sandwich is worthy of the name. Breakfast is always on the menu and includes 24 varieties of pancakes. The French Toast is also really good. And be warned, entree portions at the Pancake Pantry are huge. Most featured dishes come with five full-sized pancakes. Order to share unless you’re feeling mighty hungry. Note: The Pancake Pantry does not accept call-ahead seating or reservations. Seating is first come, first served. Brace yourself to stand in line. But rest assured, the line moves fairly quickly. The Pancake Pantry is located at 628 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN.
3. The Peddler
Here we are. The rarified air of the top three. Each of the following restaurants can make a legitimate claim to being the best in Gatlinburg, the best in Sevier County or the best in Tennessee. Of course, a lot of it comes down to personal preference. The Peddler Steakhouse in Gatlinburg, open for dinner daily, is an institution with roots that reach back to the very founding of the city itself. Get a custom-cut steak, a red wine, a baked stuffed potato and dine like royalty back when royalty didn’t think of gout as a bad thing. Or if you want to be a little less decadent, the grilled salmon is fantastic. Parking on-site is available (a Gatlinburg rarity) but fills up quickly. Do yourself a favor and nab an early dinner reservation to save yourself the headache. The Peddler is located at 820 River Rd, Gatlinburg, TN.
2. The Greenbrier
Billed as a food and spirit outpost, Greenbrier offers fine dining in a rustic setting. Greenbrier gets a slight edge in my book for a slightly more daring fine dining menu than some of the other top-end restaurants in the area. Duck breast, lamb shank and stuffed flounder are all delicious options. Or you can go more traditional and order one of their fine hand-cut steaks. Do note, this is one of the more upscale restaurants in Gatlinburg. I wouldn’t consider this a kid-friendly joint. It’s more of an intimate dinner situation. But here’s some really good news – this restaurant, unlike so many on this list, is a bit off the beaten path and therefore, has ample parking available. Yay! The Greenbrier Restaurant is located at 370 Newman Rd, Gatlinburg, TN. Nab a reservation here.
Finally, in a fine-dining world dominated by steakhouses, Chesapeake’s wins by simply standing out. Sure you can get excellent seafood dishes at The Peddler or Greenbrier, but if you want seafood, and quite frequently I do, it’s best to go to the place that specializes in the fruits of the ocean. The Maryland Crab Cakes are delicious as an appetizer, a main course or on the crab cake sandwich. They’re also available to be added to an entrée. The stuffed Maine lobster is also decadent and the steamed seafood feast can’t be beaten. I also enjoy the Smoked Trout.
There are non-seafood options available if you’re not in the mood, but I can’t imagine anyone would read this far into this particular blog and then go to Chesapeake’s and order the hamburger – which I’m sure is probably a pretty good burger. The broiled or fried seafood platters feature shrimp, scallops and cod. Their cod is an awesome cod. Try the Slower Delaware Pie for dessert. Since I’ve never been to Delaware, I don’t know if this is an actual thing. But it’s coffee ice cream, Kahlua liqueur, chocolate cookie crust, hot fudge, candied pecans and cream. And it’s a work of genius. Chesapeake’s is open for dinner daily. They open earlier on weekends for Saturday late-lunch and Sunday brunch. Get a reservation online ahead of time to save yourself a seat. Chesapeake’s is located at 437 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN.
Bonus: Dick’s Last Resort
LOL just kidding. Gotcha back.
What do YOU think is the best Gatlinburg restaurant? Let us know in the comments.
RELATED VIDEO: Check out our Best Restaurants in Gatlinburg Roundup