There was an old Bloom County comic that I enjoyed growing up.
For you younger folks, there used to be these things called newspapers. And within them, they would run comics – aka funny papers.
Originally, the comics were chiefly for kids. They’d tell serialized stories, some life lessons and sprinkle in some mostly safe humor.
In my heyday of the 80s, the comic art form was at its pinnacle. Is it surprising that my heyday coincided with this pinnacle or perhaps my perception was shaded by the rose-colored glasses of my youth?
Anyway, artists shined in the comics of the 80s. They could be subversive, clever, thought-provoking and often insanely funny.
The Far Side. Calvin & Hobbes. Bloom County.
These were the giants of the industry.
With that in mind, there was one particular Bloom County that poked fun at the illusion of borders.
It won’t translate here but essentially a group of Bloom countians – including Opus the Penguin and Bill the Cat – were inside a large border declaring the area inside as their own. In each subsequent panel, a new border appeared and cut a member of the group out until only one remained.
The larger point hit home with me even as a child.
Today, I think about the implied nuances a lot even now as I hear debates on this border or that border and the lines we’ve drawn to divide ourselves from one group to the next.
The line between Pigeon Forge and Sevierville
I realize now, that’s a little bit of a heavy way to introduce an article about getting a steak in a tourist town called Pigeon Forge, TN near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
What got me thinking about the arbitrary nature of borders? The fact that my favorite steakhouse in Pigeon Forge – the Chop House – is technically in Sevierville.
You wouldn’t really know crossing the bridge over the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River that you’ve gone from one municipality to the next. It all feels very much the same.
And yet here we are, our taste buds being punished over the meandering course of a river. And a bunch of cartographers with an affinity for natural boundaries.
For the record, the chain restaurants Longhorn Steakhouse and Outback Steakhouse are also claimed by the arbitrary border.
It’s 2022 people, the best steaks know no boundaries.
If I were ranking them among the best steakhouses on this list, Chop House would come in at 1 and Longhorn and Outback would come in just ahead of Texas Roadhouse. You can get a nice steak dinner at any of them.
All that aside, it’s time to eat and you want steak in Pigeon Forge – and ONLY Pigeon Forge – where do you go?
6. Timberwood Grill
Some people will tell you to head to the Timberwood Grill on the Island in Pigeon Forge for a great steak.
Do not listen to these people.
It’s not that you’ll have a bad experience, it’s just that steak is kind of a side deal.
In fact, the grill is the perfect place to go for a burger. In particular, they have friendly service and southern hospitality by the heaps.
It’s just not a steakhouse and there are limited steak options.
The cut of meat availability is limited. But what they do have is a great gunpowder ribeye and Trapper Jack’s hand-cut sirloin.
5. Texas Roadhouse
The Roadhouse has its fans. But I find it one of the harder restaurants on the strip to get into. Also, for me, the Roadhouse is good, not great.
Look. You season a steak well, you cook it properly and it’s going to be a good meal.
The Roadhouse menu offers plenty of options like the Texas T-bone and it’s a quality dining experience, usually.
In my experience, the large crowds can stress the wait staff and, occasionally, the cooking crew.
I don’t send food back to the kitchen. I do NOT do it. But more than once I’ve ordered a medium-rare steak at the Texas Roadhouse that came out still mooing. I don’t mind pink. In fact, I don’t even mind red. But I do mind rare.
I don’t want to overstate it, more often than not at the Texas Roadhouse, you’ll get a good steak, even a great steak, and great service. It’s just sometimes things could be better.
Also, I don’t go to Pigeon Forge or Sevier County to eat at the same places I could eat at home. Therefore, if you don’t have Texas Roadhouse in your area, this honky tonk-themed restaurant might be the spot. It’s just not the spot for me. I prefer to find a local favorite.
4. The Local Goat
For clarity’s sake, I do not consider the Local Goat a steakhouse.
Like Calhoun’s, further down the list, it’s a restaurant that also serves steak. And it also may well be the most popular restaurant in Pigeon Forge and for good reason.
Great food. Excellent service. Good prices.
The Local Goat is a high-quality dining experience.
However, the steak offerings are somewhat limited to a center-cut sirloin, a flame-grilled ribeye and the Hawaiian Ribeye.
Despite my resistance to ordering a steak with a lot of extra business happening, I do like the Hawaiian Ribeye. I’m generally in favor of pineapple strategically deployed in savory situations and find pineapple ginger sauce to be a good sauce.
The Local Goat is among the best restaurants in the region. It’s a great place to get a delicious meal. However, there may be a better place to get delicious steaks.
Also, you may be in for a bit of a long wait.
Calhoun’s is not a traditional steakhouse. It’s a barbecue joint, but my general philosophy in Calhoun’s – an East Tennessee culinary icon – is that they know how to handle their meat. It’s one of the best places to eat in the entire region.
I traditionally take a stand against gimmick steaks – steaks covered in a bunch of unnecessary stuff but I make an exception for Calhoun’s “Ale” Steak, a 7 or 10-ounce sirloin marinated in olive oil, mustard, garlic and Cherokee Red Ale. And it comes topped with Worcestershire butter. Don’t worry you don’t have to pronounce it when you order. It’s fantastic.
I do not, however, make an exception for the Bar-B-Que Steak, which is simply a bridge too far. When I want barbecue, I want barbecue. When I want steak, I want steak. Neither the twain shall meet.
2. Gaucho Urbano Brazilian Steakhouse
Man, I like the way Brazilians think.
Soccer? Love it. Carnival? Love it, at least in theory. However, in practice, it would lead to my immediate demise.
In the same vein, the traditional Brazilian steakhouse also might lead to my demise. It’s like Steakfest 24/7 in a good Brazilian steakhouse. People bringing skewers of meat to the table one after the other until I beg for mercy? Now that sounds like a good time.
In addition, they also offer an exceptional fresh salad bar if such things matter to you at all.
I’m not here to tell you Gaucho Urbano is the best steakhouse you’ll ever eat at, but it’s well done … get it?
1. Alamo Steakhouse
I am on record as being a fan of the Alamo.
As an aside, I love when certain review sites aggregate the comments. The comments for Alamo – which is ranked suspiciously low on Tripadvisor – include “Good Steak” and “Outstanding wait staff, food cooked…” Some people set the bar lower than others.
With locations in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, the Alamo offers traditional steakhouse fare; filet, strip, T-bone, the El Presidente porterhouse, prime rib and rib-eye steak. All are expertly prepared, you can’t go wrong with any of them.
The chef’s selections include steaks encrusted with a lot of stuff, but John’s selections are typically just steaks.
Do you agree with our ranking? What do you think is the best steak in Pigeon Forge? Let us know in the comments below.