Dining

25 best Pigeon Forge restaurants, places to eat [2022]

The most challenging part of a Pigeon Forge vacation may well be picking a place to eat. 

Certainly, there are options and options and options. 

It can be hard deciding what to have on a Wednesday night at home. So of course, deciding what to eat on the road is that much more difficult. 

Do we want to be daring? Or do we want to play it safe? Do we want dinner and an experience? Maybe we want something specific, like some delicious brisket and coleslaw. 

At any rate, we’re going to tackle the top 25 places to eat in Pigeon Forge and see if we can help you out. 

A few ground rules. First, we’re going to try and avoid most of the basic chains.

What’s a basic chain? A chain that’s likely located in your hometown. There are tourism chains like Hard Rock or Dick’s Last Resort that aren’t available in every town. Those are fair game.

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But if you want McDonald’s? You don’t need me to tell you where to grab fast food.

Second, we’re going to factor in experiences. In other words, you’re on vacation, the experience is part of it.

To illustrate, would I recommend Frizzle Chicken’s Farmhouse if it didn’t have animatronic singing chickens? It’s a riddle the world may never solve. 

Third, dinner shows are out. For example, some people swear by the chicken at Dolly’s Stampede. Personally, I’ve never been that comfortable eating in the general vicinity of defecating horses. 

And finally, all things are relative. Is a pancake house really better than a steakhouse? Not by traditional accounting, but if you’re looking for breakfast, do you want pancakes or filet?

Yeah filet, but those places aren’t usually open in the morning and you can’t have a cowboy ribeye every night of the week and expect to live. 

Now, on to the show. Here are some of the best restaurants in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee:

Breakfast plate with biscuit, eggs and a pancake at Reagan's House of Pancakes
Reagan’s offers an all-you-can-eat pancake and breakfast buffet (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

25. Reagan’s House of Pancakes

Sure, there are a lot of breakfast places and a lot of pancake places all over Pigeon Forge. But Reagan’s is good enough that they opened a second location about 25 feet from the first.

Lewis Black has a bit about someone opening a Starbucks across the street from another Starbucks. This is like that but with good pancakes.

I don’t know how anyone could rank all of the pancake places in town, but I think if a place is good enough to open a second location within 100 yards or so, they must be doing something right. 

As a bonus, it’s also a budget-friendly restaurant.

Paul Deens Facade Pigeon Forge
Paula Deen’s is a popular restaurant located at The Island in Pigeon Forge (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

24. Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen

Some people love eating at Paula Deen’s. Admittedly, they know how to make a really good biscuit.

Overall, it’s pretty good food and one of the most popular restaurants among visitors.

With locals? Not quite as much.

You see, Paula Deen is a Georgian. The food is Southern style, it’s just different than some East Tennessee Southern cooking.

Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, family style.

Calhouns
Calhoun’s claims to have the best ribs in America (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

23. Calhoun’s

Calhoun’s is classic barbecue done perfectly.

This East TN powerhouse offers consistent high-quality food. And it’s a Southern barbecue dining experience that the whole family can enjoy. 

pigeon forge deli in mall with benches out front
You have to know where to look to find Pigeon Forge Deli (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

22. Pigeon Forge Deli

Pigeon Forge Deli is located on E. Wears Valley Road, in the corner of two buildings.

You won’t just happen upon it, but it’s a delicious place to have lunch. They offer handcrafted sandwiches on homemade white, pretzel dough and rye and wheat sub rolls.

Try the house-made pimento cheese BLT and thank us later.

The restaurant is currently closed on Sundays.

bullfish grill restaurant and sign
The Bullfish Grill is a steak and seafood restaurant (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

21. Bullfish Grill

Sure, it’s a chain but it’s not a restaurant you’re going to see in just any town.

For many, Bullfish Grill is a rare treat.

They specialize in shrimp and seafood.

Seafood selections include fried shrimp, seared ahi tuna and Blackened Tilapia Orleans.

You can’t go wrong with anything you order. It’s consistently good food.

junction 35 exterior
Junction 35 offers a unique distillery experience with its kitchen and bar (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

20. Junction 35

Junction 35 is a distillery with a kitchen and bar that specializes in handcrafted cocktails, slow-cooked BBQ and farm-raised burgers.

It’s a delicious spot to grab a bite to eat, conveniently located in the Tower Shops at the Mountain Mile.

Junction 35 is also the winner of the TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice Award in 2021.

Enjoy all-you-can-eat meat on a skewer at Gaucho Urbano in Pigeon Forge (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

19. Gaucho Urbano: Brazilian Steakhouse

Bring me your finest meats, your most delicious steaks and be quick about it.

I love a Brazilian Steakhouse.

A variety of all-you-can-eat meats brought to your table on skewers? Yes, please.

However, also be sure to check out the salad bar too. It may seem like you don’t want to waste precious space with salad, but if they had a vegetarian night, I could go just for the salad bar. 

Hard Rock Cafe in Pigeon Forge
The Hard Rock Cafe can be a bit overpriced, but the atmosphere makes it worth it (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

18 . The Hard Rock Café

I’m a child of the late 80s and early 90s when Hard Rock was cool. I cannot make that argument today.

The Hard Rock is conveniently located in the heart of Pigeon Forge along the strip.

It may be a bit overpriced, but would I rather eat a juicy burger at O’Charley’s or some other place surrounded by unoffending fake regional artwork or at the Hard Rock next to some pants Pete Townsend wore in 1978?

That’s the easiest decision I’ve ever made.

Big daddys in pigeon forge
If you go to Big Daddy’s, try the Big Kahuna or the Taco Pie (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

17. Big Daddy’s Pizzeria

At Big Daddy’s Pizzeria, they are so committed to freshness, there ain’t a freezer in the place.

If you’ve never eaten at a brick oven pizzeria, it is certainly different from your average pie.

You’re familiar with pizza’s work and in all likelihood, you’re a fan.

Big Daddy’s has some fun options. I do like alternative pizzas, so the Big Kahuna with pineapple, Canadian bacon and a goat cheese mozzarella-provolone blend is good.

The Pigeon Forge location also features an arcade.

Speaking of good pizza …

Read Also: Big Daddy’s Pizza in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg: Is it worth it?

Mellow Mushroom has three locations in the Smokies: One on the Parkway in Pigeon Forge, one in downtown Gatlinburg and one at The Island (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

16. Mellow Mushroom

There’s a good chance that one night you’re going to want to keep it simple. And Mellow Mushroom is, in fact, the best in town.  

Even though it’s a chain restaurant, it’s still one of my favorite places to get a good pizza.

Seafood bucket at Harpoon Harry's
Harpoon Harry’s is one of the best places to get seafood, as well as sushi, in Pigeon Forge (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

15. Harpoon Harry’s Crab House

A dual concept by restaurant people out of Florida, Harpoon Harry’s offers a change of pace from Southern fare. They offer a traditional crab house menu but with the added bonus of a quality sushi bar.

Generally considered the best sushi in Pigeon Forge, Harpoon Harry’s offers a delightful change of pace from fried chicken and pancakes. 

Do you love catfish? Huck Finn’s, a family-owned restaurant, might be your new favorite place (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

14. Huck Finn’s Catfish

OK. Maybe you want a traditional Southern twist on seafood entrees.

Something between Mama’s and Harpoon Harry’s. In that case, Huck Finn’s Catfish is the place for you. 

Read Also: What are the best seafood restaurants in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg? Our top 6

Alamo steakhouse
Meat lovers will love the Alamo Steakhouse (photo by Bill Burris/TheSmokies.com)

13. Alamo Steakhouse

There are several good steakhouses in Pigeon Forge.

In fact, there are several legitimate arguments that Alamo Steakhouse should be first.

I feel a little bad ranking them here, but I don’t mean it as an insult. This is one of the best steaks you can get in the Smokies, cooked to perfection.

Smoky Mountain Brewery has two locations in the Smokies: One in Gatlinburg and the other in Pigeon Forge (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

12. Smoky Mountain Brewery

You can never go wrong with the idea of beer and pizza, hand in hand.

Smoky Mountain Brewery has traditional pub food, including fries, fried pickles, burgers, sandwiches and subs. They also have live music on select nights.

The Pigeon Forge location is next door to Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Feud.

Animatronic Chickens
Frizzle Chicken Farmhouse is known for its singing animatronic chickens and pancakes (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

11. Frizzle’s Chicken Farmhouse

Look. Here on the screen – on stark black and white – this just looks silly.

Is Frizzle’s Chicken Farmhouse really a better restaurant than Alamo Steakhouse?

Well, let me answer that question with a question: Does Alamo offer tasty breakfast fare and animatronic chickens who serenade by clucking Frozen’s “Let It Go?” I didn’t think so.

Listen, I’m a 47-year-old father of three, the days of chemically expanding my mind are gone.

In other words, sometimes you have to chase the dragon in the real world, you know? In this case, the dragon showed up flanked by a mechanical chicken named Hens Solo and Princess Lay-a.

As an added bonus, they offer great prices and it’s one of the more affordable places to eat on our list.

Read Also: Frizzle Chicken Review: Go for the pancakes, stay for the singing chickens

Timberwood Grill
The Timberwood Grill is located at The Island in Pigeon Forge (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

10. Timberwood Grill

The Timberwood Grill is located within The Island in Pigeon Forge.

The restaurant specializes in authentic mountain dining with soups, salads, burgers, sandwiches, steak, chicken and ribs.

It’s nothing fancy. It’s nothing pretentious. But it’s the best dining option on the Island. Adults can eat for between $15 and $30.

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

9. Cielito Lindo

Pigeon Forge has surprisingly few Mexican options.

Almost every place has some kind of Mexican something or other on the menu, but it’s almost always an aside.  

If you want Smoky Mountain TexMex style authenticity, try Cielito Lindo.

Breakfast tacos at the Brick and Spoon in Pigeon Forge TN
Breakfast tacos at the Brick & Spoon in Pigeon Forge, TN (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

8. Brick & Spoon

It’s hard to mess up breakfast foods. Sausage, egg, bacon. All delicious.

But Brick & Spoon is a step above. A breakfast, lunch and brunch spot that’s growing quickly across the South, the Brick & Spoon is an upscale Southern breakfast experience.

Try the stuffed French Toast Sliders or the Crab Cake Benny.

In my experience, they also have great service.

Pucketts
Puckett’s is the place to be for live music and great barbecue (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

7. Puckett’s Grocery

The best food served with style. Puckett’s roots reach back to the 1950s and a little grocery store at Leiper’s Fork in Middle Tennessee.

Purchased by a man named Andy Marshall in the 1990s, the grocery store turned into a foodie haven. Since then, Marshall Hospitality has opened five other local restaurants.

In Pigeon Forge, the menu is heavy on artisanal takes on Southern classics. And in fact, they are all good. 

Your taste buds will thank you.

Read Also: Puckett’s review: Why they are the best BBQ spot in Pigeon Forge

Blue Moose
The Blue Moose is a family-friendly sports lounge in Pigeon Forge (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

6. Blue Moose Burgers

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 exactly off the beaten path either.

They are famous for their award-winning Jumbo Chicken Wings, Angus Beef Burgers and dozens of flat-screen televisions and craft beer.

Read Also: Is Blue Moose in Pigeon Forge worth it? An honest review

a sandwich at the Local Goat
The Local Goat offers gourmet sandwiches and burgers (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

5. The Local Goat

The Local Goat is one of the more popular restaurants in Pigeon Forge, which means it can sometimes be difficult to get a table.

As one of the top Pigeon Forge restaurants, they feature a scratch kitchen with locally-sourced menu items.

Lil Black Bear cafe
The Lil Black Bear Cafe is a small breakfast and lunch spot on Veterans Parkway (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

4. Lil Black Bear Café

A teeny, tiny breakfast and lunch spot located on Veterans Parkway, the Lil Black Bear Café isn’t going to wow you with 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.

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.

Mama's Farmhouse in Pigeon Forge
Mama’s Farmhouse also serves meals family style (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

3. Mama’s Farmhouse

If you’re going to come to the mountains, you might as well try some good Southern cooking.

It’s family-style but nothing terribly fancy. The flavors are that of a traditional home-cooked meal.

And as a member of the Johnson Family of Restaurants, it’s a good option if you want a certain style of meal while you’re on vacation. 

The Pottery House
The Pottery House is located in the historic Old Mill District (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

2. Old Mill Pottery House Cafe

The Pottery House Cafe is within the historic Old Mill District.

The home used to belong to a local potter. The bread is baked fresh daily and the menu has lunch, dinner and weekend brunch.

Old Mill restaurant
The Old Mill Restaurant is also located in the Old Mill District (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

1. The Old Mill Restaurant

Located nearby the Pottery House along Old Mill Ave, The Old Mill Restaurant is precisely what you’d expect from an Old Mill Restaurant. It’s delicious food and country cooking done well. 

With a wide variety of Southern favorites, there’s something here for the entire family.

The menu features a variety of chicken, ham, meatloaf, pork and barbecue.

And most entrees are served with a side of green beans and mashed potatoes.

The biscuits melt in your mouth. The Country Fried Chicken – with gravy of course – 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.

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

8 absolute best breakfast restaurants in Gatlinburg, ranked

Rise and shine! It’s breakfast time in East Tennessee.

As you may have noticed, there are a ton of brunch and breakfast options in Gatlinburg. In fact, there are so many that it can be hard to choose between them all.

But never fear, we’re here to save the day – or at least your morning – with some made-from-scratch pancakes and other delicious breakfast treats.

We’ve taken on the difficult task of sampling all of the savory donuts, old-fashioned buttermilk pancakes and biscuits in the area – on your behalf of course – and used our findings to create this ranked list of breakfast restaurants in Gatlinburg.

It’s not an easy task to rank the best places to eat breakfast in Gatlinburg. Plus, the game is often changing competitors. For example, Ruby Sunshine, which once offered a modern take on New Orleans breakfast, has sadly closed its doors.

Fortunately, there are plenty of places left to get a delicious morning meal in the area. Here are some of our absolute favorite places to get breakfast in Gatlinburg:

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8. Timbers Log Cabin Restaurant

A cozy, quaint restaurant located on Glades Road in Gatlinburg, Timbers Log Cabin offers a welcoming atmosphere and delicious homecooked-style meals like your grandparents would make.

Coming in at number 8 is not a slight to the quality of food. The only downside is that the restaurant can be a little hard to visit with limited hours and a location that is a bit out of the way.

Currently, the restaurant is open Friday through Sunday. But if you are able to visit for breakfast, you won’t regret it.

The Atrium exterior in Gatlinburg
Make sure to try one of the Atrium pancakes, like their famous baked apple pancake (photo by Bill Burris/TheSmokies.com)

7. The Atrium Restaurant

The Atrium is a breakfast and lunch restaurant, open from 7:30 am to 2 pm Wednesday through Sunday in Gatlinburg.

Breakfast offers the usual variety with options like pancakes, bacon and French toast. You won’t go wrong with one of their classic Southern breakfast dishes, like the Mountain Man Platter with two eggs, two pancakes, homefries and ribeye.

But they are most well known for the Famous Apple Pancake, which has fresh baked apples and brown sugar served over apple syrup.

Of course, here you can also find grits, biscuits and gravy, country ham, omelets, benedict and more.

storefront of the smoky mountains creperie
The Smoky Mountain Creperie has a variety of sweet and savory crepes (photo by Bill Burris/TheSmokies.com)

6. Smoky Mountains Creperie

The Smoky Mountain Creperie is the perfect spot to satisfy your sweet breakfast craving.

They have an array of savory selections that feature items like a Nutella & Oreo, Hershey’s & Marshmallows and Peanut Butter & Jelly crepe.

But if you prefer a more hearty selection, they also offer a Ham, Cheese & Bacon crepe as well as one that has beef, cheese, peppers and onions.

It’s a great little spot located near the Space Needle in Gatlinburg near the main strip.

The Donut Friar with an eclair in front of the sign
The Donut Friar is a Gatlinburg institution specializing in donuts, pastries and delicious coffee (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

5. The Donut Friar

We would be amiss to exclude the Donut Friar from this breakfast list. 

The place is Gatlinburg institution – punny name, coffee, éclairés and all.

The Donut Friar has been around since 1967 and is the last standing original shop in the entire Village Shops area.

This isn’t a sit-down kind of breakfast joint – it’s more like a grab-and-go glorified coffee and donut shop. But if you haven’t been to the Donut Friar at least once on your Smokies vacation to sample their world-famous cinnamon bread, did you really vacation in the Smokies?

But do be warned, this is a cash-only establishment so come prepared.

Read Also: Donut Friar Gatlinburg: How the punny donut shop became Smokies famous 

flapjack's pancake cabin on the strip in gatlinburg
Flapjack’s Pancake Cabin has six locations in Sevier County, serving up delicious breakfast classics (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

4. Flapjack’s Pancake Cabin

Flapjack’s has six locations in the Smokies – three of which are in Gatlinburg. The others are in Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Kodak.

They are known for their pancakes but also offer other standard-fare breakfast items like skillets, omelets, bacon, sausage and eggs.

We highly recommend trying the Spanish Skillet, the Sticky Bun Pancakes, the Chocolate Chip Pancakes or the Reese’s Peanut Butter Pancakes.

Does anyone in your family have gluten sensitivities? No problem, just ask your server about the gluten-free options. Actually, in our experience, they are very allergen-friendly.

Read Also: Flapjack’s Pancake Cabin review: Great pancakes, strange origin story

fruity crepes with whipped topping and sugar
Fruit-filled crepes served with a whipped topping make a hearty breakfast (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

3. Log Cabin Pancake House

It’s not uncommon to see a line when you pull up to the Log Cabin Pancake House.

But don’t let it deter you. The line moves quickly and the wait will be worth it.

The Log Cabin Pancake House serves breakfast in downtown Gatlinburg.

Their menu features a variety of dishes including specialty pancakes (we recommend the butterscotch chip), French crepes, waffles, omelets, breakfast platters (like country ham and biscuits) as well as standard lunch fare (like hamburgers and corndogs).

They also know how to make a delicious breakfast sandwich.

As an added bonus, the parking is free – which is a bigger deal in Gatlinburg than most guests might realize.

The service has been consistently good, and the food is always delicious and hearty.

The restaurant is open every day from 7 am until 2 pm.

The Elk Mountain grande burrito
Crockett’s is known for their thick pancakes, but they have a wide selection of breakfast items like The Elk Mountain Grande Burrito (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

2. Crockett’s Breakfast Camp

Crockett’s Breakfast Camp is famous for its cabin-chic atmosphere, hearty breakfasts, ultra-thick griddle cakes and fried cinnamon rolls.

But really, you can’t go wrong at Crockett’s. Everything is excellent.

If you like a little spice with your meal, we recommend the Elk Mountain Grande Burrito featuring three eggs, chorizo, machaca, pico de gallo and jalapeño peppers or the Huevos Rancheros with a side of hot sauce.

Fun fact: Crockett’s is owned by the KBS Restaurant family who also owns and operates other local hot spots including The Greenbrier Restaurant, Holston’s and J.T. Hannah’s.

pancakes at the pancake pantry
Pictured above are the Caribbean Pancakes, Chocolate Chip Pancakes and a side of bacon (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

1. The Pancake Pantry

And then we have Tennessee’s first pancake house – The Pancake Pantry – adored by locals and visitors alike.

The Pancake Pantry is housed in the Village Shops near the aforementioned Donut Friar.

The pancakes of this pancake house are a big business in Sevier County.

You can hardly sling an animatronic chicken without hitting a place that serves pancakes. But the Pancake Pantry is not only the best, but it’s also the first.

It’s not at all unusual to see people lined up outside around the block waiting to get into this popular pancake palace.

The menu includes a wide assortment of pancakes, crepes, waffles, blintzes and French toast served with whipped butter and maple syrup.

The traditional breakfast foods, eggs, sausage, bacon and omelets are all prepared with the skill and knowledge acquired from over 60 years in the business. This ain’t no fly-by-night operation, this is pancake royalty.

Not sure what to try first? We strongly suggest trying the Wild Blueberry Pancakes or the Caribbean Pancakes. 

Their pancake plates are served with real butter and freshly whipped cream.

And you’ll never have to worry about leaving the Pancake Pantry hungry – each pancake dish arrives with five full-sized cakes per plate. 

Read Also: Tennessee’s first: Pancake Pantry holds the key to local hotcake obsession

What is your vote for the best breakfast places in the area? Let us know in the comments!