A Smoky Mountain local ranks his favorite seafood restaurants
I’m a bit of a seafood snob, a habit I picked up at my grandparent’s house in Florida. As a crabber, my grandfather knew the shrimpers and the fishermen as well. I was used to eating the freshest possible seafood at the best times of the year. That made it hard to return to Tennessee and order seafood that hadn’t been in saltwater since Moses was a boy.
But over the years and with better supply chains, I’ve relaxed my standards somewhat, recognizing that you can find good seafood even if it wasn’t swimming in the ocean earlier in the day. To that end, visitors can certainly get good seafood in Sevier County. It may not be as readily available as a place near the ocean, but it exists nonetheless.
But I want to set a few ground rules or really one ground rule before we begin: To be seafood, you must at least in theory have originated in the sea. So, for this ranking, any place with trout, catfish or bass in their name will not be considered eligible. After all, I did warn you at the beginning, I’m a bit of a seafood snob. Now, without further ado, let’s get to ranking the best seafood restaurants in Pigeon Forge and surrounding areas.
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Really, this is the easiest ranking I’ve ever done at the top. You have to drive to Gatlinburg for it, though. Cheaspeake’s offers the best seafood in the region and it’s not even close. It is, in fact, a great seafood restaurant. The crab cakes are as good as any I’ve ever had in Maryland. The pan-blackened scallops are divine. The calamari is fried to perfection. Just close your eyes and point and the menu and whatever they bring out is going to be fantastic. Sides include creamy coleslaw and bacon and cheddar cheese grits. You can order seared Ahi tuna or a seared Ahi tuna salad. But this excellence comes at a price. Chesapeake’s ain’t cheap but my God it’s worth it. Chesapeake’s is located at 437 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN and they accept reservations (a rarity in Gatlinburg) online.
2. Harpoon Harry’s Crab House
Harpoon Harry’s motto is ‘It’s not just a restaurant, it’s an adventure.’ Easy there, Indiana Jones, we’re eating crabs here, not crossing the Himalayas. Despite this claim, Harry’s has two things going for it: The seafood is really good and it is one of the few places in the area where you can get really good sushi even though it has a disturbing number of options under the “Cooked Rolls” section of the menu. Like previously mentioned establishments du crab, Harry’s offers an array of seafood buckets with crab legs as well as lobster, grouper, oysters, scallops and shrimp. Add-ons such as chicken, mahi mahi, crab and lobster tails are also on the menu. For the more adventurous, try some gator bites or fiery hot spicy shrimp for your appetizer. The menu also includes a variety of sandwiches and a lobster roll. Harpoon Harry’s accepts reservations via their website and is located at 112 Community Center Drive, Pigeon Forge, TN.
3. The Greenbrier Restaurant
Another Gatlinburg location, but hear me out. Like many high-quality restaurants, The Greenbrier offers excellent seafood options. Of course, Greenbrief is a relatively high-end restaurant so anything they do will be excellent. The Greenbrier menu includes stuffed shrimp, oysters, scallops and flounder, all expertly prepared. Fun fact, The Greenbrier also ranks on our Best Steaks in Gatlinburg list, just in case you’re in the mood for a little surf n’ turf. The Greenbrier accepts online reservations and is located at 370 Newman Road, Gatlinburg, TN 37738.
4. Huck Finn’s Catfish
I know, I said I wasn’t going to include lake fish, but I’m giving Huck Finn’s a pass as they have lots of seafood options on the menu including but not limited to multiple varieties of catfish including salmon and shrimp. Plus, game recognizes game. Their catfish is amazing. Look, many Southerners grew up on catfish. It’s a Tennessee staple. So if you do want to sample a little “Southern seafood” on your visit to the Smokies, we suggest dropping your anchor at Huck Finn’s. Plus, you can never go wrong with any restaurant that brings complimentary vittles to the table with every entree which features dill pickles, sweet onion slices, creamy cole slaw, made-from-scratch hushpuppies plus white beans and turkey. You won’t leave Huck Finn’s hungry. Huck Finn’s does not accept reservations but they do offer takeout. Huck Finn’s is located at 3330 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN.
5. Red Lobster
Now that we’ve mentioned the more notable local establishments, let’s touch on a couple of chains, shall we? (I warned you the seafood options were limited in Pigeon Forge!) Located on the Parkway near the Sevierville-Pigeon Forg line, we start with Red Lobster. Look, at Red Lobster, we know what we’re getting. It’s good stuff. Mass-produced but good. It’s the low-ceiling, high floor of seafood. It’s never gonna be terrible, but it’s rarely gonna be great. Red Lobster offers massive “feast” style sampler platters as well as the occasional all-you-can-eat shrimp specials on select days. They also have solid seafood pasta dishes and passable New England Clam Chowder. And let’s not forget the complimentary Cheddar Bay Biscuits. Yum. Red Lobster does not accept reservations. They are located at 1600 Parkway, Sevierville, TN.
6 Joe’s Crab Shack
Joe’s Crab Shack, located directly across from Red Lobster, offers seafood buckets and sampler platters. If you are craving some fish & chips, hush puppies or tilapia, you can find them at Joe’s. Joes, like Red Lobster, does not normally accept reservations but they are often open on holidays, which is nice. Joe’s Crab Shack is located at 1605 Parkway, Sevierville, TN 37862.
What are your favorite seafood restaurants in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg? Let us know in the comments below.