The Absolute 11 Best Restaurants in Gatlinburg, According to a Local

a bbq sandwich at delauders

Delauder's is a fan-favorite hole in the wall BBQ joint in Gatlinburg (photos by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com and Contributed by Delauder's)

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. Also, 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, and some of us say it’s Greenbrier. Both places are certainly 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 best restaurants in Gatlinburg TN, ranked. Note: We’ve also created a printable version of this list here.

The best restaurants in Gatlinburg are Delauder’s BBQ, Trish’s Mountain Diner, Pancake Pantry, Chesapeake’s Seafood, The Greenbrier, The Peddler, Alamo Steakhouse, Wild Plum Tea Room, Mama’s Chicken Kitchen Howard’s Restaurant and Crockett’s Breakfast Camp.

The Best Restaurants in Gatlinburg

RankRestaurantBest for …
1Delauder’s BBQBBQ in a cozy cabin setting in Gatlinburg.
2Trish’s Mountain DinerA mountain diner that’s known to locals, serving breakfast and lunch at an affordable price in Gatlinburg.
3Pancake PantryPancakes in downtown Gatlinburg (seriously, these are the best pancakes you will ever have).
4Chesapeake’s SeafoodHigh-end seafood in Gatlinburg.
5The GreenbrierExclusive high-end American dining off the beaten path in Gatlinburg.
6The PeddlerSteaks and a salad bar in a historic setting in downtown Gatlinburg.
7Alamo SteakhouseSteaks (now two locations in the Smokies – one in Gatlinburg and one in Pigeon Forge).
8Wild Plum Tea RoomPeople who love hidden gems.
9Mama’s Chicken KitchenA casual restaurant with excellent fried chicken and chicken and dumplings.
10Howard’s RestaurantQuality steaks and burgers on the strip.
11Crockett’s Breakfast CampBreakfast and brunch.
Delauder's BBQ
Delauder’s has the best BBQ you’ll find in Gatlinburg (photos contributed by Delauder’s (photos by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com & Delauder’s)

1. Delauder’s BBQ

Tip: Only Open 4 Days/WEEK

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. Delauder’s is only open four days a week from Thursday-Sunday. They are open for dinner only (4 pm-8 pm) on Thursdays, lunch and dinner on Fridays and Saturdays (12:30 pm-8 pm) and lunch only on Sundays (12:30 pm-2:30 pm). Delauder’s is located at 1875 East Pkwy, Gatlinburg, TN 37738. Limited parking is available on site.

a breakfast sandwich and the outside of trish's
Trish’s Mountain Diner offers a variety of breakfast sandwiches for less than $5 (photos by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

2. Trish’s Mountain Diner

Tip: ARRIVE EARLY SEATING IS LIMITED

Located way off the beaten path, the cash-only Trish’s is one of my favorite places to grab some real mountain diner-style cooking in the Smoky Mountains. This is the kind of place where they call you “honey”, bring hot sauce to the table “just in case” and make sure you never have to ask for a refill. Plus, they are super affordable, with a ton of dishes for less than $10 which is unheard of in Gatlinburg nowadays. Open for breakfast and lunch from 7 am-2:30 pm Monday- Thursday and open from 7 am-8 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Sadly, like so many other quality establishments in the Smokies, is closed on Sundays. Trish’s Mountain Diner is located at 3614 East Pkwy, Gatlinburg, TN 37738. Limited free parking is available on site.

pancake pantry pancakes
Don’t leave the Pancake Pantry without trying the Caribbean Pancakes (pictured) (photos by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

3. Pancake Pantry

Tip: The LINE MOVES FAST

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.

The Pancake Pantry is located at 628 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738 inside the Village Shoppes. They are open daily for breakfast and lunch from 7 am-3 pm. Parking is not available on site. You will likely have to pay for parking in a nearby paid lot or walk from your downtown hotel. They do not accept reservations. Arrive early for immediate seating else you’ll get stuck in line.

Chesapeake's is, without a doubt, the best seafood restaurant in the Smokies (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)
Chesapeake’s is, without a doubt, the best seafood restaurant in Gatlinburg (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

4. Chesapeake’s Seafood and Raw Bar

Tip: LIVE LOBSTER ON SITE

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. Chesapeake’s is located at 437 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738. Making a reservation before you go is highly recommended. Plan to either walk from your downtown hotel or park in one of the paid lots nearby.

seafood at the greenbrier
The Greenbrier Restaurant offers a seasonally rotating menu that features chef specials. Pictured: A seasonal salmon dish (photos by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

5. The Greenbrier Restaurant

Tip: MENU ROTATES SEASONALLY

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. Free parking is available on-site.

a steak with sides at the peddler
The Peddler is easily one of the most popular steakhouses in East Tennessee (photos by Daniel Munson and Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

6. The Peddler Steakhouse

Tip: SALAD BAR WITH ENTREE

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.

a steak at the alamo gatlinburg
The Alamo, in our opinion, has some of the best steaks in all the Smokies (photos by Bill Burris/TheSmokies.com)

7. Alamo Steakhouse

Tip: Order “The Steak”

The Alamo at number 7? 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 better steakhouses (see above), and a list with nothing but steakhouses at the top would be 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. Parking is available on-site at both locations. Reservations are generally not accepted. The only exception to this rule is couples-only Love Nest.

Wild Plum Tea Room
Wild Plum is located within a few miles of the Arts and Crafts Community (photo by Bill Burris/TheSmokies.com)

8. Wild Plum Tea Room

Tip: NOT OPEN IN THE WINTER

This local favorite has sandwiches, salads, burgers and unique creations like lobster pie, all 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 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. The Wild Plum also closes seasonally during the winter, normally reopening each April. Reservations are required at this difficult to get into restaurant. The Wild Plum Tea Room is located at 555 Buckhorn Rd, Gatlinburg, TN. Limited free parking is available on site.

chicken and a biscuit at mamas farmhouse
Mama’s is famous for their chicken dishes including fried chicken and chicken and dumplings (photos by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

9. Mama’s Chicken Kitchen

Tip: GET BANANA PUDDING FOR DESSERT

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. Limited free parking is available on site.

Howard’s serves up quality steaks and burgers (photos by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

10. Howard’s Restaurant

Tip: TRY THE BLOODY MARY

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 traditions. There’s nothing 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. Plan to park in a nearby paid lot.

crocketts aretha Frankenstein pancakes
The Famous Aretha Frankenstein pancake is served at Crockett’s Breakfast Camp (photos by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

11. Crockett’s Breakfast Camp

Tip: TRY THE GIANT PANCAKES

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 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. Plan to park in a nearby paid lot.

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.

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28 thoughts on “The Absolute 11 Best Restaurants in Gatlinburg, According to a Local”

  1. Smoky Mountain Brewery isn’t on the list and most definitely deserves a spot in the top 17. Amazing food. Great atmosphere. Just my opinion.

    Reply
  2. Ole Red was beyond horrible. Food wasn’t up to par and order messed up. I could understand if it was extremely busy, but we were the very first customers of the day. A simple, I’m sorry or we apologize would help, but nope. Over priced.

    Reply
  3. If you’re going to Gatlinburg, pack food and make yourself at home in one of the rental cabins. Many are short distances from good hiking, fishing, and beautiful scenery! I’ve been to a few of the places on this list and Chesapeake is the only one worth checking out. Had fun at Crawdaddy’s but the food was trash and expectedly overpriced, but waaaaaaay overpriced. Basically don’t go here for the restaurants. Go for the nature that the tourism is going to soon eliminate.

    Reply
  4. Ole Reds is horrendous, the food is extremely lackluster for what they charge. I despise McDonalds & would eat there before I went to Ole Reds again.

    Reply
  5. I LOVE Breakfàst AT
    BENNETT’S Buffet
    I LOVE LUNCH AT
    BENNETT’S Buffet
    Awesome steaks and BBQ!! Fine Eating
    I LOVE SUPER AT
    BENNETT’S
    Tenderest Ribs and
    Beef Brisket!

    Reply
  6. Try Delauders Bbq the next time you are there, they are rated #1 for bbq in the area on a lot of other top places to eat.

    Reply
  7. Of course Crockett’s is my favorite. Great food and atmosphere large portions. Well worth the 2 hour wait

    Reply
  8. I’ve had steak at half of those places , multiple times, for the most part they were all great.. Just like places at home, they can all have an off night.. Alamo had the most tender steak ever, I cut it with my fork but it had no flavor, at all. Ended up eating it with, A-1, and u should never have to use condiments on a 30 dollar peace of meat. My dad’s was the best he ever had. We done the same at howard’s and the peddler. Calhoun’s ale steak is always great to me but not him. Cherokee Grill has the prosperity steak that is unreal.. I think they all can have an off night. Just me, but I think they’re all good most of the time. Taking a steak next to the river for a little picnic is great to. I think if you eat the same thing, same place, 2 days in a row, 1 of them will be great if not both. Just keep trying them all anyway.

    Reply
  9. I actually live in Delaware (not lower but kinda mid Delaware). My parents live in Wears Valley. I have never heard of a Slower Delaware Pie. Sounds good though.

    Reply
  10. I have been coming to Gatlinburg in the fall every year for my whole life. For the most part, the list (or lists, including Pigeon Forge and Sevierville) is pretty darn close.

    Reply

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