10 Best Restaurants in Pigeon Forge – Taste Tested and Approved Dining

Fried Chicken at Mama's Farmhouse

There's nothing quite like the family-style experience at Mama's Farmhouse anywhere else in the Smokies (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

A local’s guide to the top restaurants and cuisines in Pigeon Forge

In my opinion, the most challenging part of a Pigeon Forge vacation may well be picking a place to eat. Do we want to be daring? Or do we want to play it safe? Do we want dinner and an experience? Especially with over 100 different restaurants to choose from in a town that covers less than 14 square miles. At any rate, as a local who has tried them all, I’m going to tackle the top ten places to eat in Pigeon Forge. Editor’s Note: We’ve also made this list a printable pdf.

As a local, I have determined that the best restaurants in Pigeon Forge are The Old Mill, The Pottery House Cafe, Mama’s Farmhouse, Alamo Steakhouse, The Local Goat, Blue Moose Burgers, Lil’ Black Bear Cafe, Cielito Lindo, Junction 35 and Huck Finn’s Catfish.

Best Restaurants in Pigeon Forge

RankFoodBest for …
1The Old Mill RestaurantThose looking for an authentic Southern comfort food meal in a historic cozy cabin setting.
2The Pottery House CafePeople love The Old Mill but also crave a bit more variety on the menu.
3Mama’s FarmhouseHungry people in the mood for an all-you-can-eat family-style Southern dining experience.
4Alamo SteakhouseAnyone in search of the best steak in Pigeon Forge – this is it!
5The Local GoatFamilies looking for affordable food, and sports fans looking for a place to catch the game.
6Blue Moose BurgersThat person who wants a family-friendly local sports bar ambiance to watch “the game”.
7Lil’ Black Bear CafeVisitors looking for a local hole-in-the-wall breakfast joint. But do note – seating is extremely limited.
8Cielito LindoFans of Latin spice – this is our favorite Mexican restaurant in the area.
9Huck Finn’s CatfishSeafood lovers seeking the best fried catfish in town.
10Puckett’sPeople in the mood for great barbecue. While we think there’s still better BBQ in Sevierville (Preachers & Bustin’ Butts) and Gatlinburg (Delauder’s), Puckett’s is the best in Pigeon Forge.
A plate of fried chicken, green beans and mashed potatoes from The Old Mill Restaurant (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

1. The Old Mill Restaurant

Tip: also try the biscuits

Located near the Pottery House in the historic Old Mill District, this restaurant features delicious Southern cuisine and country cooking done well. With a wide variety of local favorites, there’s something here for the entire family.

Breakfast, served daily til 11 am, features a variety of pancakes, omelets, and biscuits. I highly recommend the latter as the biscuits are some of the best I’ve ever had in my life, anywhere. The lunch (served daily til 4 pm) and dinner (served from 4 pm to close) menus feature a variety of fried chicken (which also made our best fried chicken in Pigeon Forge list), ham, meatloaf, pork, and barbecue. Entrees are served with a side of corned chowder, biscuits, green beans, and mashed potatoes. The biscuits, as stated earlier, literally melt in your mouth. The country-fried chicken is cooked to perfection. And the chicken and dumpling platter is a dish you won’t soon forget.

But be warned, this incredible restaurant isn’t exactly a local secret. Expect at least a 30-minute to 1-hour wait even in the slow season. In the busy season, wait times could be even greater. And they do not accept reservations. It’s a walk up, put your name down, and wait for your name to be called kind of situation. Outdoor heaters are available on the patio for winter queues. Parking is available on site but may be limited during the busy season. Overflow parking is sometimes available at Patriot Park. Read our full review here.

buttermilk chicken from pottery house
The Buttermilk Chicken Melt at the Pottery House Cafe is delicious (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

2. Old Mill Pottery House Cafe

Tip: the bread here is made on-site

The Pottery House Cafe is also located within the historic Old Mill District. It’s the sister restaurant of The Old Mill. The building used to belong to a local potter and is steeped in history. The ambiance is casual and cozy. And there’s a surprisingly cute outdoor oasis-style patio located in the back that few, aside from the locals, know about. They also like to put insulated igloos out for patrons during the colder months. It’s a vibe.

The Pottery House is open daily from 11 to close serving lunch and dinner. They open a bit earlier on Saturdays and Sundays – at 10 am – with a special brunch menu. Their all-day menu features a fusion of American classics (think chicken, steaks, and pasta) and upscale Southern comfort cuisine (like their famous Buttermilk Chicken Melt). And don’t overlook the bread bowl – The Pottery House makes their bread on-site daily. Like their sister restaurant, Pottery House does not accept reservations. Again, parking is available on-site but may be limited on weekends and holidays.

fried chicken with meatloaf and mac and cheese
Mama’s Farmhouse specializes in family-style dining. Pictured: A plate of fried chicken with meatloaf and mac and cheese (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

3. Mama’s Farmhouse

Tip: Call for reservations

If you come to the mountains, you might as well try some good Southern home cooking. And Mama’s Farmhouse restaurant is the closest thing you’re going to find to a home-style Southern meal the way Mammaw used to make in all the Smokies. From the time you walk the ambiance feels like you’ve just stepped into somebody’s grandmother’s kitchen. The food is served family-style – which means you order for the table. Plus, it’s all you can eat – so come hungry. They are open for breakfast (8 am-11 am), lunch (11 am – 3 pm) and dinner (3 pm – close) daily. They just started offering extended breakfast hours (til 2 pm) on weekends last year. And ample parking is available on site.

Their breakfast menu features pinwheels, chicken tenders, chocolate gravy, hash brown casserole and biscuits. You should be aware, the biscuit portion of this meal will blow your socks off. They won the People’s Choice Award at the 2015 International Biscuit Festival.

The lunch and dinner menus vary seasonally but usually feature a variety of fried chicken, meatloaf, ham, turkey and steak. There’s also a variety of sides including mashed potatoes, fried okra and mac and cheese. I recommend the chicken and dumplings and creamed corn. I can also vouch for the desserts which include peach cobber, apple crunch and banana pudding. But of course, like a true Southerner, banana pudding is my favorite.

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

4. Alamo Steakhouse

Tip: Order “The Steak”

There are several good steakhouses in Pigeon Forge. But this is one of the best steaks you can get in the Smokies, cooked to perfection. Open for lunch (11 am-3pm daily) and dinner (3pm to close) daily, the Alamo serves a variety of all-American classic dishes like grilled seafood, burgers and, of course, as mentioned before, steaks.

What should you get if you go to the Alamo Steakhouse? I’d start with the shrimp cocktail – it’s darn good. I can also recommend the horseradish-parmesan prime rib strips and the sombreros – crab-stuffed mushroom caps – if you’re considering appetizers. Texas taters are also usually quite popular with my family. For the main entree I of course recommend ordering steak – it’s a steakhouse after all. But if you’re looking for a more specific suggestion I say go with “The Steak”. Yes, there’s an entree option simply known as “The Steak” at the Alamo. It’s a massive 20oz ribe eye cooked with the bone in.

The Alamo usually accepts call-ahead seating but limits their actual reservations for couples at their second location in Gatlinburg location a few miles away hoping to dine in the “The Love Nest”. Parking is available on site.

the Tennessee whiskey burger at the local goat
The Tennessee Whiskey Burger at The Local Goat is a favorite among locals (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

5. The Local Goat

Tip: TRY THE Deep Fried Deviled eggs

The Local Goat is one of the more popular restaurants in Pigeon Forge, which means it can sometimes be difficult to get a table. But they do accept reservations – which I highly recommend.

Open daily from 11 am to close, their daily menu features everything from burgers and steaks to seafood. And it’s all done with a certain level of artistry and flair. Traditional American foods are presented in classic ways with modern twists that take them beyond what you’d find in a chain restaurant. They’re certainly not afraid to offer challenging menu items from cheese fondue to deep-fried deviled eggs to an Elvis burger with peanut butter. It’s the perfect place to go if you want to try something familiar but with a little more flavor.  

In a rarity for this area, reservations are offered at this location and available through Google. And I highly recommend making reservations. This restaurant might be a local gem but that doesn’t mean it’s not a well-known establishment. Wait times can be lengthy if you go without a plan. A large parking lot is available on site. Read our full review here.

wings at blue moose burgers
Blue Moose Burgers are known for their wings (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

6. Blue Moose Burgers

Tip: This gem is a fav among locals

Blue Moose Burgers & Wings bills itself as Pigeon Forge’s only family sports grill and the best-kept secret by local residents since 2007. However, that secret is getting out. Blue Moose is growing in popularity and for good reason. It’s affordable, it has good food and good service. It’s located in one of those rare semi-hidden pockets of Pigeon Forge where it’s not exactly on the beaten path. But it’s also not really off the beaten path either. It’s a sports fan’s ideal location to catch the game with a casual atmosphere and dozens of flat screens located throughout the restaurant including inside the booths. There’s not a bad seat in the house.

They are open every day from 11 am-close. Their regular menu features a variety of American dishes like sandwiches, burgers and chicken. But they are famous for their award-winning jumbo chicken wings and craft beer. Unfortunately, reservations are not available for this location but you can order takeout on their website. Free parking is available on site.

A sandwich with chips from the Lil Black Bear Café (photo by Bill Burris/TheSmokies.com)
A sandwich with chips from the Lil Black Bear Café (photo by Bill Burris/TheSmokies.com)

7. Lil Black Bear Café

Tip: Expect to wait, seating is limited

This is one for the “you have to be in the ‘know'” kinda place. A teeny, tiny breakfast and lunch spot with only a handful of seats located on Veterans Parkway, Lil Black Bear Café isn’t going to wow you with its menu options. It’s a basic breakfast, a basic lunch but it’s done to perfection. Do you want something memorable from your vacation? The Lil Black Bear Café is memorable for all the right reasons. And it has a cult-like area fan following.

The menu features reasonable prices and it’s a great place to eat. But be warned, wait times often reach up to two hours in the busy season. And this restaurant, like many in the area, does not take reservations. Also, be sure to call ahead and confirm hours. This is a mom-and-pop-style restaurant. Operating hours/dates tend to vary without notice. Don’t stake your entire morning on eating at this establishment only to be greeted with a rudimentary sign taped to the door – sorry, we’re closed.

burrito deluxe platter cielito lindo
Cielito Lindo offers some of the best Mexican food in town. Pictured: A Burrito Deluxe (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

8. Cielito Lindo

Tip: ORDER THE QUESO DIP

Cielito Lindo roughly translates to “pretty little heaven”. And that’s exactly how I feel about this place. It’s a traditional hole-in-the-wall style Mexican joint. But I adore it. It’s my little heavenly haven for spice in the Smokies.

I find Pigeon Forge has surprisingly few Mexican dining options. This, I suppose, makes sense as you probably aren’t coming to the mountains looking for Latin cuisine. But I’m the kind of person who will seek out Mexican no matter what town I’m in. And there’s something about the unique style of Mexican food served in East Tennessee that I simply adore. So if you’re like me, or if you just need a break from Southern comfort food, head to Cielito Lindo.

Their daily menu features nachos, fajitas, tortas, tacos, soups and combo platters. My go-to order is the burrito deluxe with pulled chicken (pictured above) with a side of queso. This restaurant is open daily from 11 am – close. A small parking lot is available in front of the store.

chicken and catfish at huck finn's
Huck Finn’s serves up deep-fried chicken in addition to some of the best catfish (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

9. Huck Finn’s Catfish

Tip: ENJOY THE VITTLES

OK. Maybe you want a traditional Southern twist on seafood entrees. In that case, Huck Finn’s Catfish is the place for you. Open daily from 11:30 am – close, Huck Finn’s entrees largely feature chicken and/or fish. Sides include delicious options like baked white beans, coleslaw, hushpuppies, fries green beans and more.

If you’re hungry go for the all-you-can-eat dinner option with vittles (beans, pickles, cole slaw, hushpuppies and fries or green beans), catfish and chicken. Vittles are also complimentary with every regular entree. Any restaurant that treats pickles as an appetizer is all right by me. Do note, that this restaurant isn’t open late. They usually end dinner service around 7:30 pm nightly Parking is available on site.

A BBQ sandwich at Puckett's in Pigeon Forge (photos by Alaina O'Neal/TheSmokies.com)
Puckett’s Grocery and Restaurant offers great BBQ with live music on select nights (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

10. Puckett’ Restaurant

Tip: STAY FOR THE LIVE MUSIC

The inside of Puckett’s in Pigeon Forge has a rustic-modern ambiance. It’s soft, dim and woodsy and has a wall full of records, including some from Dolly Parton. It’s the kind of place where you’ll find guitars and cowboy hats on the wall, live music on select nights, and of course, delicious Southern BBQ. Puckett’s began as a little grocery store in Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee. Today, is it a restaurant and entertainment venue, specializing in Southern staples and slow-smoked BBQ and ribs. Sure, they have most things that could keep even the pickiest of eaters in the group happy: Burgers, sandwiches, salads and the works. But they’re known for that slow Memphis-style smoked meat. 

Open daily from 11am – close, Puckett’s has a lot of variety when it comes to burgers and sandwiches, including everything from the classic cheeseburger to the music city hot chicken sandwich – which is authentically served on Texas toast with coleslaw and a house pickle on the side. Another popular option is the Piggy Mac, cherry wood smoked pulled pork in an iron skillet. It is topped with white cheddar mac n’ cheese and crumbs of freshly made biscuits. The Nashville cheesesteak offers either smoked beef brisket or grilled chicken topped with bell peppers, onions, BBQ sauce and white cheddar cheese sauce on a hoagie bun.

And if you want a taste of the BBQ, which I do recommend, you can get the Puckett’s BBQ, which comes with pulled pork or beef brisket, slow-smoked with cherry wood. You can get it Memphis-style, which comes with slaw on top. I usually order a Puckett’s BBQ sandwich with a side of skillet mac n’ cheese. Other home-cooked sides include sweet potato fries, cole slaw, collard greens, smashed sweet potatoes, French fries, mashed potatoes, potato salad, cowboy caviar, steamed broccoli and more. And here’s the best news – you can book a reservation online. Parking is available on site.

What are your top restaurants when you visit Pigeon Forge TN? Let us know in the comments below.

Frequently Asked Questions

What types of cuisines and dishes is Pigeon Forge known for?

Pigeon Forge and the surrounding areas are best known for their Southern comfort food cuisine which includes barbecue, fried chicken, ham and steak. We are also known for our pancakes.

How much is the food in Pigeon Forge?

Food prices vary by restaurant but as a safe rule of thumb, plan to spend about $10-$15 per entree at casual restaurants and $25-$40 at finer table service restaurants. Pigeon Forge isn’t as expensive as other tourist destinations in the United States, but it’s still a tourist destination, which means “cheap” food will be a bit harder to find unless you stick to traditional fast food options or diners.

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5 thoughts on “10 Best Restaurants in Pigeon Forge – Taste Tested and Approved Dining”

  1. Our # 1 best meal to eat is the Alamo. Best steaks, salads, hamburgers ever. Our next choice would be Local Goat. Eaten there several times and everything is great. We like Outback for wings and salad. Bullfish is a favorite for sure. They have the best bread. Always buy several loaves to bring home and have in our cabin there.

    Reply
  2. The Alamo, Huck Finn’s, Calhoun’s and Mama’s Farmhouse are all great choices! The steaks are tender and juicy at the Alamo and Calhoun’s has good barbecue. Can’t beat the catfish at Huck Finn’s. If you’re in the mood for good southern food, then Mama’s is the place to go. It isn’t a buffet, but it is all you can eat.

    Reply
  3. Check out Wild Bear Tavern too. They have amazing specials for locals and the staff really take care of you. It really is authentic German food that you don’t see very often. Get the sausage sampler when you’re there and you HAVE to get one of the German beers on tap.

    Reply
  4. Could someone please help me with suggestions on vegan restaurants and great meals, besides a salad, with all those restaraunts and all the vegans, there has got to be more places out there!!

    Reply

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