Review

Your Questions on the SkyBridge in Gatlinburg, Answered [2023]

The competition for your tourism dollar in Gatlinburg is fierce. 

Afterall, there are only so many tourists with so many dollars. The pie is large, but the pie is not infinite. 

And so there’s a mental calculus for budgeting a trip. 

Is X worth Y percentage of our budget?

The answer of course is subjective. For some, no price would be too high to enjoy the Ripley’s Museum or a trip up the mountain to Anakeesta. Others feel ripped off unless they have some discount coupons to do anything. 

Add in the bevy of new and growing attractions, and every destination in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge remains in some varying state of evaluation.

This brings us to Gatlinburg’s SkyLift Park – home of the famous Gatlinburg SkyBridge.

Gatlinburg SkyLift Park was founded in the 1950s, the famous yellow chairs of the SkyLift have been ferrying folks up to the top of Crockett Mountain for nearly 70 years. 

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What is there to do at SkyLift Park in Gatlinburg?

There are a variety of attractions at SkyLift Park in Gatlinburg including:

  • The SkyLift chair lift
  • The famous SkyBridge (a pedestrian bridge)
  • Tulip Tower (an observation tower)
  • The SkyTrail (a walking path)
  • The SkyCenter (a restaurant and gift shop)
  • The SkyDeck (an outdoor amphitheater)

The SkyDeck features a large viewing deck, outdoor seating, firepits and thankfully zero scary/exciting glass floor panels – more on this later. The SkyDeck is an excellent place to chill out and soak in the view. 

The SkyCenter offers a place to get out of the elements and nosh on a light menu of pizza, wraps, hot dogs and more. There’s also a selection of frozen beverages and draft beer.

The SkyTrail is an elevated boardwalk where visitors can enjoy a leisurely stroll alongside the mountain while interacting with informative signage about the area.

Tulip Tower is a 70-ft. steel observation tower that’s accessible by rope bridge from the SkyTrail.

And of course, the highlight of SkyLift Park is the Gatlinburg SkyBridge, the longest pedestrian cable bridge in North America.

The bridge stretches 680 feet across a deep valley. It is comfortable for walking with room for a leisurely stroll and for those who move at a brisker pace.

At its highest point, the bridge is 150 feet off the ground. The bridge offers breathtaking views – especially from the glass floor panels in the middle of the bridge.

Park owners recently doubled the glass panels from 15 feet to 30 feet in length, giving visitors a more exciting experience than ever before.

First person perspective on the glass bridge
The SkyBridge midpoint features 30 feet of glass panels (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Did the Gatlinburg SkyBridge crack?

Look, you can’t really go to the SkyBridge without hearing the tale of the great SkyBridge crack of 2020.

So are the rumors true? Did the glass really crack?

Unfortunately, the rumors are true. And the glass really did crack.

However, the tale has become somewhat exaggerated over time. Today, the story is mostly used as a tool to taunt families visiting from out of town and scared of heights as slowly make their way across the bridge 150 feet up in the air.

Because ya know, they needed another reason to be scared. Isn’t family great?

Here’s the real story.

Guests were way up in the air, minding their own business, taking in views of downtown Gatlinburg when a man attempted what was described as a “baseball-style slide” across one of the glass panels.

Upon impact, it is believed that the keys from his pocket cracked the glass. And also, I imagine, freaked a whole bunch of people out.

But it should be noted that no one was ever in any danger.

There were multiple levels of redundancies that prevented something bad from happening.

He cracked the upper layer of one of the glass-floor panels on the pedestrian bridge. There were several other layers remaining, and the bridge has been long since repaired.

glass panels on the skybridge
The highest point of the SkyBridge is 150 feet off the ground and 1,800 feet above sea level (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Is SkyLift Park safe?

In short, yes, the Gatlinburg SkyLift Park is safe. But there may be restrictions for certain individuals.

For example, it’s recommended that infants ride the chair lift in a baby harness or wrap attached to the parent. 

Dogs are also allowed as long as they are leashed for the visit. Owners must also be able to securely hold their dog while riding the lift.

The chairs can fit up to three individuals, but guests are welcome to ride one or two per chair if preferred. Operators will make sure you get in the chair comfortably. 

skylift parks chair lift
A round-trip SkyLift chair lift lasts about 20 minutes, but we recommend breaking up the experience by taking a healthy break at the top to enjoy everything the park has to offer (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

How long is the Gatlinburg SkyLift ride?

The round-trip ride lasts 20 minutes.

Most folks break up the experience by spending time at the top of the mountain and checking out everything the park has to offer.

Is the SkyLift and SkyBridge the same?

Not quite. Gatlinburg SkyLift Park is the name of the attraction which houses the SkyLift and SkyBridge. The SkyLift is the chair lift up to the top of the mountain. The SkyBridge is the famously long pedestrian walking bridge.

The SkyBridge is one of the most famous features of this attraction.

the skybridge at night
The main attraction at SkyLift Park is the famous SkyBridge, which lights up at night (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Do you have to take the SkyLift to get to the SkyBridge?

Yes. Guests at SkyLift Park need to take the chair lift to reach access to the attraction, including access to the famous SkyBridge.

Anakeesta, on the other hand, offers a truck to help guests get up to the attraction in addition to the chair lift. So, if you’re worried about the lift, this may play into your decision on which attraction is best for you.

Read Also: Anakeesta vs. SkyLift Park: Which Attraction Is Better?

How long does it take to walk across the SkyBridge in Gatlinburg?

Not very long, but of course, it depends on how much you stop and take photos along the way. On average, it takes about 3-5 minutes if you take a leisurely stroll across the bridge.

the skycenter
The Gatlinburg SkyCenter is a cool place to enjoy a snack or a beverage while enjoying the views from the top of the iconic SkyLift (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Is there a restaurant at SkyLift Park?

Yes, you can grab a bite to eat on the second floor of the SkyCenter at SkyLift Park.

Although, it’s less of a restaurant and more of a snack bar with incredible views and a spacious seating area.

The menu features basic staples like hot dogs, ice cream and beer. Hey, we all have our own definition of staples, no judging.

The SkyTrail
The Gatlinburg SkyTrail at SkyLift Park is one of the newer features, opening to the public in 2021 (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

Do you have to pay to walk the SkyBridge in Gatlinburg?

Yes. The SkyBridge is a part of the attraction, so you will need a ticket to walk across the iconic bridge.

How much does it cost to go on the SkyBridge in Gatlinburg?

Ok. So how much for an admission ticket? Honestly, it’s not bad.

Ticket pricing, at the time of this writing, is as follows:

AdultSeniors (65+)Juniors (4-11)Kids Under 3
SkyPass Same Day$36.95$29.95$22.95Free
Single Visit Ticket$32.95$25.95$18.95Free
Unlimited Visits Ticket$34.95$27.95$20.95Free

A SkyPass gets you unlimited visits for the day and allows you to skip the line. SkyPasses are cheaper if purchased at least one day in advance and are only available for purchase online.

SkyPasses are really the best way to go because they allow you to save a bit of money and skip the wait. They also give you the opportunity to visit the park in the morning, hit downtown Gatlinburg for lunch, and then head back up to the park to see the lights at dusk.

A Single Visit Ticket is valid for a single visit to the park.

The Unlimited Visits Ticket, like the SkyPass, also gets you unlimited park visits for the day but doesn’t allow you to skip the line. These tickets are only available for purchase at the SkyLift Park ticket window.

Remember, prices are subject to change and may vary by season.

photos at the skycenter tell the tale of the gatlinburg fires of 2015
Photos located inside the SkyCenter tell the tale of the Gatlinburg fires of 2016 and their major impact on SkyLift Park (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Did the SkyLift burn in Gatlinburg?

Yes, the Gatlinburg fire in 2016 temporarily destroyed SkyLift Park.

To make matters worse, just as the SkyLift Park was rising from the ashes, Anakeesta opened, offering a similar, and rather competitive, experience in an arguably more scenic and upscale location.

However, the folks at SkyLift answered both challenges admirably.

The SkyLift reopened in 2017 looking more beautiful than ever before with plans for expansion.

Today, the SkyLift is a lot more than just a ride to the top of Crockett Mountain and back down.

It offers panoramic views of the vistas of Gatlinburg and the mountains of the Smokies beyond. 

Read Also: Is Anakeesta Worth It? A Personal Review (With Discount) [2023]

tulip tower
The Tulip Tower observation tower also opened in 2021 (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

Is the Gatlinburg SkyLift worth it?

I think, unquestionably, SkyLift Park is worth it.

Anytime you can enjoy a Gatlinburg landmark, I think it’s worth it.

Plus, they’ve added a lot of value to the price of your admission. I suppose the question is whether you choose SkyLift or Anakeesta.

Personally, I prefer Anakeesta’s views of the Smokies. I like to be able to look out over the mountains without seeing the town.

However, I will say that your ticket up the mountain at Anakeesta is really just a starting point. I feel like you’re ultimately likely to spend a lot more money on a trip to Anakeesta than the SkyLift. 

The SkyLift does have the glass-bottomed bridge – a major selling point that Anakeesta can’t match. 

Honestly, I think you can’t go wrong with either one. You’re going to get amazing views and enjoy more of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park area.

The Gatlinburg SkyLift Park is located at 765 Parkway in downtown Gatlinburg. For tickets or more information about SkyLift, visit their website.

Have you visited the Gatlinburg SkyLift? Tell us what you think in the comments.

21 best restaurants in Sevierville TN [2023]

On the map, the West Prong of the Little River divides Sevierville from Pigeon Forge. 

It’s the same as many of the imaginary borders we use to divide our world into sections, arbitrary and relatively meaningless except for man-made concepts like politics, regulations and taxes. 

In the real world, unless you saw the sign, you’d have no reason to know that you’d crossed from Sevierville into Pigeon Forge or vice versa. Right there along the city boundaries, there’s very little practical difference between the two. 

But it may surprise you to know that Sevier County’s seat is more than just the business end for its two more wild and free siblings, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.

Years ago, Sevierville siphoned off the best of the county’s shopping – particularly the outlet businesses that had helped make Pigeon Forge strong. 

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Is Sevierville close to Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge?

Sevierville is closer to Pigeon Forge, near the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains. It’s right at the border of Pigeon Forge and about 30-40 minutes from Gatlinburg.

Sevierville siphoned off a major piece of Pigeon Forge’s bread and butter with its shopping outlet, but a funny thing happened to the rest of the city. Sevierville’s food scene became something of a natural balance to Pigeon Forge. 

Now, another movement is well underway. In particular, Sevierville is THE place to go in the county for foodies. 

It’s strange. 

When I first moved to East Tennessee, Sevierville was nothing more than the town you had to drive through to get to Pigeon Forge. As the county seat, it had the courthouse and the jail but nothing that would draw people to town who didn’t have specific business there. 

That’s not the case anymore.

Wild-eyed artists with little more than a spatula and a dream found a home in the burgeoning Sevierville food scene.

As of late, Sevierville is a good place to find great food.

So, if you’d like to get away from the culinary version of a classic rock station, drive up north of the West Prong and see what Sevierville has to offer. 

Below, you will find my personal ranking of the best restaurants in Sevierville.

Read Also: Things to do in downtown Sevierville TN, is it better than Gatlinburg?

flapjacks chocolate chip pancakes
The chocolate chip pancakes at Flapjacks can be ordered with or without pecans (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

21. Flapjack’s Pancake Cabin

Look, we had all this build-up about cracking the eggshell that is Pigeon Forge culinary homogeny, but you still got to eat breakfast.

Breakfast items are the one area in which Sevierville restaurants lack options compared to Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge.

Culinary artists, it seems, aren’t as jazzed at getting up at 4 am to make a bunch of hash brown skillets. Still, pancakes and waffles are big business in Sevier County and Flapjack’s is a great place to get ’em. 

It’s comfort food for your breakfast-lovin’ soul.

Holstons
A local chain, the Sevierville location can be found next door to Suntrust on Dolly Parton Parkway. The other is located in Morristown, TN about an hour away (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

20. Holston’s Kitchen

Next, we have Holston’s Kitchen. Holston’s Kitchen made the cut on our best Sevierville restaurants list for its variety of menu options and massive portion sizes.

At Holston’s, you can get anything from Greek salads to TexMex to Italian cuisine to steaks and everything in between.

Try the Fried Green Tomatoes while you’re there – a Southern staple.

Just be sure to come hungry as portion sizes are generous.

Big Daddy's pizza for take out
Big Daddy’s Pizzeria does not offer delivery, but you can order for takeout (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

19. Big Daddy’s Pizza

Everything is fresh at Big Daddy’s Pizzeria, where their wood-fired flame creates unique handcrafted Italian works of art.

The pizza is delicious, but it’s not unique to Sevierville. They also have locations in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.

Of course, they are best known for their pizza but also offer sandwiches, salads and apps.

plate of tacos from fort worth kitchen
If you love TexMex – Fort Worth Texas Kitchen might become your new favorite place (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

18. Fort Worth Texas Kitchen

Fort Worth Texas Kitchen is a newcomer on the Sevierville food scene.

Their dinner menu features a variety of TexMex style favorites at affordable prices.

the diner in sevierville tn
The Diner in Sevierville leans into car culture (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

17. The Diner

One of the premier attractions to Sevier County over the decades has been the car culture.

In particular, from the Rod Runs to cruising up and down the strip, the 50s/60s American graffiti vibe is a big part of the social fabric of the area.

At The Diner, get a patty melt, some onion rings, french fries, green beans, a chicken tender basket and a big ole shake.

It’s not culinary artistry. Certainly, it’s not Picasso at the grill. But it’s one of the best places in the Smokies for a traditional diner experience.

It’s good and fun and classic and there’s a place in any good food culture for those things, too. 

plate of food in front of roll on in
Roll On In is a bit more “grab and go”, but it offers high-quality build-your-own hibachi, bowls and burritos (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

16. Roll On In

Roll On In is a unique, casual concept but it delivers when you need quality food fast.

You can order from a selection of specialty bowls and burritos or completely customize your own creation.

It’s a bit like a Chipotle but for sushi and hibachi. And it’s genuinely great.

gatlinburg brewing company
The Gatlinburg Brewing Company has two locations in the Smokies (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

15. Gatlinburg Brewing Company

Here, my friends, we may well have found genius.

Founded by a man who discovered his passion for brewing at an Outkast concert – I want to make an Outkast reference here to prove how hip I am but I’ll just say that if I were a professional baseball player my walk-up music would be “So Fresh, So Clean”.

With two locations, the Gatlinburg Brewing Co. offers craft beers, pub-style appetizers and truly delicious pizza.

Pizza varieties include Dirty Hippie, Hangover Helper, Betty White and Basic AF.

applewood farmhouse grill
Applewood Farmhouse Grill – Sevierville’s oldest restaurant – is located on the Apple Barn Cider Mill and General Store property (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

14. Applewood Farmhouse Grill

The Apple Barn is one of our favorite places to frequent and it happens to be home to another popular restaurant: Sevierville’s Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant.

Located right on the line with Pigeon Forge, the Farmhouse is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner offerings. The fare is what you’d expect from a farmhouse restaurant – fried chicken and roast and meatloaf and such but with a few surprises as well. 

It’s all amazing food that the whole family will enjoy.

And don’t leave until you’ve sampled the chicken pot pie, chicken and dumplings, pot roast and apple fritters for a sweet treat with a side of homemade apple butter and apple julep.

comida hondurena in sevierville
This Honduran restaurant is a local favorite (photo by Bill Burris/TheSmokies.com)

13. Comida Hondureña Yobanina

This one is a local favorite.

Comida Hondureña Yobanina is a Honduran restaurant located in a gas station near the Tanger outlets.

This is the perfect place to go when you want to add a little spice to your diet. 

graze burgers exterior
Graze Burgers is located in downtown Sevierville, TN and serves up some of the best burgers you will find anywhere in the Smokies (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

12. Graze Burgers

Sometimes you just want a delicious burger. Graze is the place, featuring all grass-fed beef burgers with no hormones, antibiotics or steroids.

This is not your typical burger fare. For example, try the Local Farmer with aged cheddar, house bacon, a fried egg, local greens, onions, tomatoes and house pickles.

I’m gonna be honest. Any place that has its own pickles is gonna be alright in my book. 

plate of onion rings and bbq
Hippie BBQ is a new delicious restaurant in town (photo by John Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

11. The Hippie BBQ and Grill

The Hippie BBQ is a new restaurant in the area. It’s a 1970s-themed sports bar that specializes in BBQ, burgers and wings.

It’s definitely a contender for some of the best BBQ in the area.

A steak at seasons 101
A perfectly prepared steak at Seasons 101 in downtown Sevierville (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

10. Seasons 101

For the record, this is not a freshman-level meteorology course. It is a self-described culinary experience.

Seasons 101 is located in the heart of downtown Sevierville, TN at the Historic Central Hotel. It is a comfortable, casual dining atmosphere, combined with upscale cuisine at moderate prices.

The season determines how the menu selections are curated. “An ever-changing selection of signature dishes and cocktails inspired by the current season is the heart of our dining philosophy.” 

And whatever the season, the food is, in fact, always good. 

Five oaks Farm Kitchen
Five Oaks Farm Kitchen is located across from Tanger Outlets in Sevierville (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

9. Five Oaks Farm Kitchen

For symmetry purposes, I should have ranked this fifth. But let’s move past that.

Five Oaks Farm Kitchen lives up to the name. Run by the family of Dr. John (not the Iko, Iko guy) and Blanche Ogle who originally owned and operated the family farm, Five Oaks is probably the best of the region’s farm-house style restaurants.

I’d recommend something from the smokehouse – but that may be my general preference for smoked meat talking. The fried okra is also a must. 

el primo in sevierville
El Primo offers authentic Tex-Mex (photo by Bill Burris/TheSmokies.com)

8. El Primo Products Hispanos

If you’re looking for the same-old Tex-Mex that gets slung in restaurants from here to the border this isn’t the place.

In fact, if the idea that the best Mexican food is served in the back of a Hispanic grocery store is a surprise to you, this might not be your place.

However, if you want to eat something with authentic flavor? This is your place. They have all the classics like quesadillas, tacos, fajitas and queso.

trotters
Trotter’s is a new BBQ restaurant in downtown Sevierville (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

7. Trotter’s Whole Hog BBQ

This BBQ restaurant is another new addition to the growing downtown Sevierville foodie scene.

The menu features appetizers like pimento cheese, pork rinds and burnt ends as well as meat plates and a variety of smoked sandwiches with banana pudding for dessert.

It’s conveniently located on Bruce Street.

pinchys lobster
Pinchy’s Lobster also recently opened in downtown (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

6. Pinchy’s Lobster

Pinchy’s Lobster is bringing New England seafood to the Smokies.

Freshly opened downtown, they offer fresh sushi, lobster, a raw bar, a beer garden and live music on select nights.

bustin butts bbq
Bustin’ Butts BBQ serves meat on a paper plate the way God intended (photo by Bill Burris/TheSmokies.com)

5. Bustin’ Butts BBQ

Delicious BBQ made fresh daily. It’s served on paper plates with beans, potato salad, smoked mac and cheese or coleslaw.

There are also a few outdoor picnic tables if you want to eat on site, but you can call ahead and pick it up to go. 

Read Also: 7 weirdest and punniest attraction names in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg

Preachers BBQ Sign
Preacher’s Smokehouse is one of the best “hole in the wall” restaurants in the Smokies (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

4. Preacher’s Smokehouse

The menu? Written on a chalkboard on the wall. The proprietor? A real-life preacher named Sam Steele.

The Food? Oh. My. God.

Get the burnt ends. And get the three meat meal – which comes with two sides for $15. Get everything.

Indeed, this is the kind of place barbecue foodies dream about. Hours are limited, so plan ahead.

Read Also: 6 best hole in the wall restaurants in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg

aubreys in sevierville
Aubrey’s has excellent food in Sevierville (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

3. Aubrey’s

Aubrey’s is an interesting case study. It’s part of a popular East Tennessee restaurant group that is professional, consistent and good if not great. 

I’m a fan of the Pizza Rockefeller, the Hawaiian Ribeye and the Strawberry Pecan Salad.

chop house in sevierville
The Chop House is located inside the Tanger Outlets shopping complex (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

2. The Chop House

This is an upset of sorts.

I love The Chop House which is run by East Tennessee restaurant royalty.

Everything is great. It’s done to perfection every time. It has been – in my opinion – the best place to eat in Sevierville for years. So why is it No. 2? Well…

The Appalachian
The Appalachian in Sevierville serves up traditional Southern classics, fine dining style (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

1. The Appalachian

Finally, if we’re honoring Sevier County’s burgeoning foodie community, we must recognize the new guard.

The Appalachian is one of Sevierville’s newest restaurants, serving up delicious food, fine dining style.

They specialize in bringing a modern approach to traditional Appalachian ingredients and dishes.

Dishes change with the season. For instance, the Wood Grilled Pork Chop has sea island red pea, long grain rice, smoked tomato broth and green onion.

At the time of this writing, prices range from $18 for the Appalachian Burger to about $90 for the 48 oz. Tomahawk Ribeye.

Certainly, The Appalachian represents an artfulness, a thoughtfulness to the culinary sciences that challenges the idea of what Appalachian cuisine can be.

Do you have a favorite restaurant in Sevierville? Let us know in the comments below! 

What is the best food at Buc-ee’s? 17 snacks, ranked

Is this real life? Is this just fantasy? 

Does Buc-ee’s really have Bohemian Garlic beef jerky?

They do. And it’s magnifico. 

That’s not my real lede. I just am enamored of the idea of Bohemian garlic. What makes the garlic Bohemian? No idea. It must be socially unconventional.

It’s rebel garlic, operating outside the bounds of polite society, and it’s one of the best snacks at Buc-ee’s.

So now, here’s my real lede. 

Indeed, we have become a Buc-ee’s family.

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For a long time, we’d heard whispers and have been Buc-ee’s curious.

Now, on multiple road trips to Florida and Alabama, we’ve been able to really soak in the Buc-ee’s travel center experience in multiple locations and can confirm it’s one of the best places to stop on a trip.

We are completely smitten with the ever-expanding Texas chain of gas stations.

Read Also: Why are people so obsessed with Buc-ee’s? Is it worth the hype?

Buc-ee's store with plush buc-ee's mascots
Bucky the Beaver is the mascot for Buc-ee’s locations (photo by Ray Shrewsberry/shutterstock.com)

What is Buc-ee’s famous for?

Buc-ee’s features dozens of gas pumps, world-record-breaking food options and impressively clean restrooms.

And we are counting down the days for Buc-ee’s to open the world’s largest convenience store at Exit 407 in Sevierville, TN. In fact, it will be a half-hour drive from our house. 

Over the years of family road trips, I’ve earned something of a reputation. On family pit stops, I will inevitably choose the worst option in a 50-mile radius. 

It’s in my head now. And it happened again recently when we had to make a stop without a Buc-ee’s nearby.

The restroom was a single stall – and while it wasn’t dirty, it was a far cry from Buc-ee’s clean bathrooms with several stalls. A father and son team beat me to the door by a few steps, so I had to wait for quite a while as they did their business. 

It was suboptimal. And it was a far cry from Buc-ee’s. 

But Buc-ee’s is more than gas pumps and bathrooms. It’s an entire road trip experience.

Everything about Buc-ee’s is ratcheted up. The shopping experience, the customer service and the tasty treats, it’s all top-level. 

I came to the realization during this latest trip that I’d rather have the food items from Buc-ee’s than almost any fast food place I’ve ever stopped at on a road trip. 

The fact of the matter is Buc-ee’s is a great place to eat when on the road. I’m not saying you should take the family out for a meal at Buc-ee’s. However, if you’re traveling and don’t want to stop for a full sit-down meal, Buc-ee’s is a great place to give your taste buds a treat. 

hammocks for sale at a bucees
Buc-ee’s is a massive store that has T-shirts, a wide range of snacks and meals and even American made hammocks (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

What food should I get at Buc-ee’s?

Well, I’m glad you asked. The best Buc-ee’s snacks and my favorite Buc-ee’s snacks aren’t exactly the same thing, but we’ll try to thread the needle with a bit of both.

Buc-ee’s has more than just sodas, pretzels and potato chips. And it’s guaranteed to be the best “gas station food” you’ve ever had.

At some locations, they also offer free samples of some of the more popular items so you can really get a good idea of what you want before you make your purchase.

Also, we’re treating this as a road trip food destination, not a family night out for dinners, so we’re factoring practicality into these Buc-ee’s food rankings. 

Read Also: Buc-ee’s Sevierville TN opening date: Massive travel center coming soon

sausage on a stick in front of bucees
Buc-ee’s famous sausage on a stick is a favorite for some (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

17. Sausage on a stick

I’m genuinely sad to report this here as I am typically a big proponent of foods on sticks.

The Buc-ee’s sausage on a stick – which comes wrapped in a tortilla – was difficult to navigate while driving and ultimately underwhelming in just about every way. 

Quail eggs at buc-ee's
The pickled quail eggs felt like an odd choice for our family (photo by Joni Hanebutt/shutterstock.com)

16. Buc-ee’s pickled quail eggs

Every once in a while, you get a real hint of Buc-ee’s Texas roots.

Look, I’m an open-minded guy.

Eat what you want to eat. But I do not want to go on a 10-hour road trip with someone eating pickled quail eggs. 

house made chips in front of bucees store
Buc-ee’s Beaver Chips are homemade (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

15. Buc-ee’s homemade chips

They’re chips. They don’t reinvent the art form or anything. 

But they are homemade, so there is that.

Fresh fruit at buc-ee's
For a quick healthy option, Buc-ee’s also offers fruit cups (photo by John Gullion/TheSmokies.com)

14. Fresh fruit

We can’t all live by Beaver Nuggets and beef jerky. We need a little fresh fruit.

Buc-ee’s has a nice selection of fruit – probably slightly better than your typical gas station, but probably not quite as good as a local supermarket.

Especially in the south where fresh fruit is available for most of the year, I can’t imagine targeting Buc-ee’s for the fruit.

In Florida and Georgia, we saw dozens of ads for citrus fruit and peaches at stands up and down the interstate. In my experience, any one of those has better fruit than you’ll get from a large chain. 

peach rings at bucees
Buc-ee’s also has a wide selection of candies such as peach rings (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

13. Peach rings

Of the many varieties of gummy foods available at Buc-ee’s, and there are a great many, the peach rings are likely my least favorite.

In truth, it’s not that they’re bad. It’s just that peach rings are not my thing. If you like sugary, peachy flavor, adjust accordingly. 

wrapped white fudge with sprinkles at bucees
If you like fudge, the fudge counter is a sight for sore eyes (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

12. Fudge

Again, we’re in the realm of personal preference. I’m not a fudge guy. Every tourist town in America hawks fudge and saltwater taffy and I’ve never much liked either.

I think it’s the consistency.

Still, even if you don’t have a sweet tooth, Buc-ee’s fudge counter is a sight to behold.

They have flavors ranging from traditional, like the chocolate peanut butter, to the curious, like a blueberry cobbler, to the downright reckless – I’m looking at you, key lime pie – and also birthday cake.

cinnamon rolls at bucees in plastic packages
The cinnamon rolls at Buc-ee’s have cream cheese icing (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

11. Cinnamon rolls

Buc-ee’s has a variety of pastry selections and honestly, the cinnamon rolls are great.

It’s just that as road trip food, cinnamon rolls can be a bit … messy.

Therefore, I say get a box and put it away for the hotel at the end of the trip. But will I let you eat cinnamon rolls in our new family car? I will not.

caramel corn at bucees
Buc-ee’s caramel corn is a good option for a road trip snack (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

10. Caramel corn

It’s a high-floor, low-ceiling kind of snack. Is it possible to mess up caramel corn? I suppose, theoretically, it is, but more often than not you know what you’re getting with caramel corn.

Good. Satisfying. Sweet. Crunchy. Not life-changing. But it’s a good road trip snack. 

chicken fajita taco at bucees
The chicken fajita tacos are a filling and convenient meal for the road (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

9. Chicken fajita tacos

I like Buc-ee’s tacos very much.

Plus, bonus points for being easy to eat in a car.

Buc-ee's on the go meat and cheese snacks
There are several convenient grab-and-go options at Buc-ee’s, like the cup of cheese or meat snack as seen at the Georgia Buc-ee’s (photo by John Gullion/TheSmokies.com)

8. Meats and cheese

When on the road, I like meats and cheeses and Buc-ee’s has a fine array of choices.

On our most recent visit, I got a vacuum-sealed pork loin with pepper jack cheese. There are several options including a summer sausage that’s quite good as well. 

cold sandwich wrapped in saran wrap at bucees store
Buc-ee’s carries a large assortment of sandwiches (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

7. Cold sandwiches

While Buc-ee’s has quite an array of hot food, there is an excellent variety of deli sandwiches as well.

I recently tried the Italian sub and it was really, really good. Not good for gas station food, but enjoyable enough that I’d seek it out again.

The roast beef and the pastrami Reuben are also pretty good.

If you enjoy a good sandwich, also consider their Signature Club which has ham, turkey, bacon, jalapeño Jack cheese, lettuce, tomato and a spicy-sweet mayo.

beaver nuggets at bucees
These corn puffs are a staple in the Buc-ee’s community (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

6. Buc-ee’s Beaver Nuggets

A controversial selection here as the Beaver Nuggets are probably Buc-ee’s most recognizable and blogged-about snack.

To me, they’re a cousin of the cereal Honey Smacks. But with more caramel flavor.

It’s not my favorite thing but many people swear by the puffed corn nuggets. 

wall of trail mix at Buc-ee's
Buc-ee’s has a wall dedicated to trail mix (photo by EWY Media/shutterstock.com)

5. Trail mix

Buc-ee’s specializes in walls of various treats. There’s a beef jerky wall, a dried fruit wall and a wall of gummy treats. There is also a large section dedicated to a variety of trail mixes.

It goes far beyond the typical trail mix with a variety for everyone. In particular, it’s a good energy snack for the road. 

banana pudding at bucees
The banana pudding comes in a convenient travel cup (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

4. Banana pudding

As you can probably tell from the list, I prefer savory snacks to sweet snacks most of the time, but I’m a sucker for banana pudding.

In case you’re wondering, the best banana pudding in the world is at Dreamland Barbecue in Tuscaloosa.

Buc-ee’s isn’t that good but when you’re on the road, you have to take what you can get. And this banana pudding is worth taking.

3. Breakfast tacos

Ah. Now we’re on the high ground.

You know that meme from the Sly Stallone movie “Over the Top” which tried to be “Rocky” but for competitive arm wrestling? No. The 80s were a strange time, man.

Anyway, the only cultural relevance left is a meme of two muscular arms – one white, one black – clasping hands as if ready to arm wrestle. It’s used in internet culture to represent the meeting of two disparate cultures on common ground.

So if I knew how to make memes, I would make one representing Mexican cuisine and breakfast foods. It is, in fact, the common ground upon which a society can be built.

Buc-ee’s has a variety of breakfast tacos. However, I think drifts closer to the realm of burritos – but we’re not going to quibble over technicalities.

There are different varieties. The Hippo taco has bacon, egg, cheese, potatoes and beans. The Rhino substitutes sausage for bacon. And honestly, they are all wonderful.

ghost pepper beef jerky at bucees
Buc-ee’s has several flavors of beef jerky, including ghost pepper (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

2. Beef jerky

Belinda Carlisle once sang “Heaven is a Place on Earth.” I’m pretty sure she was singing about the jerky counter at Buc-ee’s.

It is like the meat case at a grocery store but instead of selections of steaks, chicken and ground beef, it’s just different flavors of dried meat piled high.

How committed am I to the beef jerky life? I can remember the first time I had it. It was made by hand by a craftsperson who served it on a field trip at Historic Old Fort in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

So, I like to think the reenactor – a champion of jerky tradition and pride – is looking down from somewhere ethereal at the Buc-ee’s jerky counter and pleased that their life’s work wasn’t in vain. 

pulled brisket on wood block at bucees
Buc-ee’s is also well-known for its barbecue selection (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

1. Barbecue

Finally, we have Buc-ee’s barbecue.

Previously, I’d tried the brisket and found it to be not bad. But at that point, I hadn’t tried the pulled pork. I corrected that mistake recently.

While the brisket sandwich is better than most fast food road trip options, it’s not as good as local mom-and-pop barbecue establishments.

The pulled pork, however, is a notch or two above the brisket. I suspect it’s because the pulled pork survives slightly better under the production limitations that Buc-ee’s must overcome.

The calibrations don’t have to be quite as precise.

Certainly, I’m not here to tell you to drive past a local smoker who’s doing barbecue to go to Buc-ee’s, but I am willing to tell you it’s probably the best mass-produced road trip sandwich available.

Do you have a favorite Buc-ee’s food? What items do you think are the best? Let us know in the comments!

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.

Crockett’s Breakfast Camp in Gatlinburg review: Is it worth it?

We are here, friends, to discuss the art of a finely prepared mountain breakfast. 

But before we can discuss hen fruit and catheads (more on that later), there’s a bit of chicanery afoot that must be addressed.

Crockett’s Breakfast Camp is a magnificent mecca of mountain breakfast.

But it is playing a bit fast and loose with one of East Tennessee’s folk heroes, attracting the attention of the tourist trade with a famous name.

But the fact is that the Crockett in question is not folklore legend Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier. It’s not even one of his cousins.

In fact, we have no evidence that Davy ever even enjoyed signature corned beef hash breakfast or fried cinnamon rolls. 

David Crockett Maples, a Tennessean who fought for the Union in the Civil War, opened a supply store when he returned from the war. It was located at the base of Mt. LeConte, where he and his wife, Mary (Ogle) Crockett earned a reputation for serving a hearty breakfast.

The interior of Crockett's Breakfast Camp
The interior of Crockett’s Breakfast Camp has many references to the area’s history (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Mr. Maples eventually lost his legs to frostbite while serving as a guide – no word on what happened to the guy he was guiding.

Undeterred, Maples created wooden feet to put in his boots, strapped them to his legs and went on walking around with the help of a pair of canes until 1928 when he passed away at the age of 88. 

Maples is more than deserving of having a Gatlinburg breakfast establishment named after him. But Maples Breakfast Camp apparently doesn’t have the same ring. 

It’s like opening a huge restaurant in Pigeon Forge called Dolly’s and having it dedicated to former Dolly Pentreath, the last known native speaker of the Cornish language who passed away in 1777.

Editor’s Note: I was going with Dolley Madison here, but she spelled it funky and ruined the joke. 

The Eggs Benedict at Crockett's Breakfast Camp
The White Oak Flats Eggs Benedict at Crockett’s Breakfast Camp has a toasted English muffin with ham, homemade hollandaise and two over-easy eggs (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

When did Crockett’s Breakfast Camp open?

Crockett’s Breakfast Camp has been one of the area’s top breakfast spots since 2014, where it continues to honor the lesser-known, yet impressive Crockett.

Still, if you can get past the name thing, Crockett’s Breakfast Camp is a place of wonder.

Who owns Crockett’s Breakfast Camp?

Part of the KBS Restaurant family, which also owns The Greenbrier, Holston’s, J.T. Hannah’s and more, Crockett’s Breakfast Camp is a holy place for those who believe – in their soul – that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. 

If aliens came to Earth and asked what breakfast is, bring them here.

First of all, because it is so good, but secondly because once they eat it, they’ll be so sluggish they will immediately need a nap and we can apprehend them before they have a chance to start messing with major cities. 

Pancakes at Crockett's
Crockett’s is well-known for its delicious, thick griddle cakes. Pictured: Aretha Frankenstein’s Pancakes with chocolate chips, strawberries and whipped cream (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Crockett’s Breakfast Camp menu

I love everything about Crockett’s Breakfast Camp.

They call the eggs “hen fruit.” The griddle cakes, French toast and waffles are enticing. I love that their cathead biscuits live up to the billing.

The Elk Mountain Grande Burrito features 3 eggs, chorizo, machaca, pico de gallo and jalapeños, just like old David Crockett Maples and his wife Mary Ogle made back in 1875. 

In fact, they serve thick Aretha Frankenstein’s Pancakes with no explanation whatsoever. Just here ya go, Aretha Frankenstein! As if everybody knows about the “famous” pancake mix from the restaurant on Tremont Street in Chattanooga. 

Also on the menu is the Signature Corned Beef Hash Benedict with diced onions, peppers and herbs.

Try the pan-fried pork chops. Or perhaps the Huevos Rancheros served with refried beans and rice. Build your own biscuit with the Cathead Stacker. There is something for everyone.

The Elk Mountain grande burrito
The Elk Mountain Grande Burrito comes with Hunt Camp Potatoes (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

For those with a big appetite, try the Black Bear Camp Skillet featuring country or sugar-cured ham and pecan smoked bacon. It is served with Cherokee sweet corn pone and more. Or try the Postmasters Favorite featuring country fried steak and homestyle sausage gravy.

Huge portions and the best breakfast can be found at Crocketts.

In addition, the location right at the top of the strip before you get out of Gatlinburg into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, can’t be beat.

Going hiking? Great. Stop off for a hearty breakfast then turn around and go back to your hotel for a nice nap while you recover.

For the full menu, click here.

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

Does Crockett’s Breakfast Camp have parking?

We should note that with a location on the strip, parking can be an issue.

The restaurant does have a few free parking spots on-site, but there’s a paid lot nearby which is good because you’re not going to feel like walking very far. 

Read Also: Parking in Gatlinburg: Prices, maps and free parking tips

David Crockett Maples statue
There’s a wooden statue of David Crockett Maples outside the restaurant (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Is Crockett’s Breakfast Camp worth it?

Ultimately, there are a lot of places in the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge area vying for your breakfast dollar. And of course, many of them are very, very good.

So, how many of them should you drive past to try Crockett’s?

It’s hard to say. I’m not sure I’d make the trek from Sevierville or Pigeon Forge only to eat at Crockett’s.

In fact, if I had my choice in Gatlinburg I’d go to the Pancake Pantry first. But neither of those things are a slight to Crockett’s in any way.

Read Also: Who has the best pancakes in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg?

It’s a fantastic place to get breakfast and start your day in Gatlinburg.

It’s certainly worth your time and money. And, hey, they’ve got a wooden statue of the namesake, which given his feet is somehow extremely appropriate but also a little disrespectful at the same time. 

Where is Crockett’s Breakfast Camp?

Open seven days a week from 7 am-1 pm, Crockett’s Breakfast Camp is located at 1103 Parkway in Gatlinburg.

Hours are subject to change, so always double-check ahead of time before you make your plans.

Do you have a favorite breakfast restaurant in Gatlinburg? Let us know in the comments.

These are the best restaurants in Gatlinburg TN: 37 top places to eat

In essence, Gatlinburg’s economy is built upon a three-legged stool of tourism commerce. 

Lodging. Entertainment. 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. In fact, a smorgasbord of … well, smorgasbords. 

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The best restaurants in Gatlinburg by category

Over the years, we at TheSmokies.com have told you about many of the best places to eat in Gatlinburg.

But we’ve always broken it down into subcategories. Best seafood, best pasta, best pizza, best steak, best barbecue, that kind of deal. 

For a quick reference, here are some of the top-rated restaurants by category:

Best seafood Chesapeake’s Seafood and Raw Bar (437 Parkway, Gatlinburg)
Best Mexican foodEstrella Hondumex (109 Roaring Fork Rd, Gatlinburg)
Best Italian foodBest Italian Cafe and Pizzeria (968 Parkway Suite #9, Gatlinburg)
Best pizzaMellow Mushroom (903 Parkway Ste 103, Gatlinburg)
Best pancakesPancake Pantry (628 Parkway, Gatlinburg)
Best BBQDelauder’s (1875 East Pkwy, Gatlinburg)
Best steakThe Peddler (820 River Rd, Gatlinburg)
Best viewsCliff Top at Anakeesta (576 Parkway, Gatlinburg)
A list of best restaurants by category in Gatlinburg TN

Now as a disclaimer, there’s a bit of an internal battle among staff for the best steak. Some of us say it’s The Peddler, some of us say it’s Greenbrier. Really, both places are 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?

You’ve been out alone, in the cold, wandering with nothing more than a fork and your wits to discern the best place to eat. 

Well, my friends come on home, the water’s fine. 

This is, in fact, the definitive list.

This is the list of lists. You need nothing more than your appetite – and probably some form of monetary compensation to pay for your meals – and we will guide you home. 

Here’s a list of the top 37 best restaurants in Gatlinburg TN, ranked:

Chicken Guy
Chicken Guy in Gatlinburg has an on-site arcade (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

37. Chicken Guy Gatlinburg

A relatively new addition to the area, Gatlinburg marks the second Tennessee location for the Chicken Guy concept. The original is in Nashville. 

Chicken Guy is known for having unique, hand-pounded chicken with crunchy textures and a wide variety of sauces. In fact, they have more than 20 house-made sauces at the restaurant.

It’s a quick food spot that will satisfy hunger and entertain your kids with the on-site arcade.

Read Also: Chicken Guy Gatlinburg is now open in downtown: A look inside

Flapjack's Pancake Cabin
Pancakes are a common site in Gatlinburg (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

36. Flapjack’s Pancake Cabin

Flapjack’s has six locations around the Smoky Mountains, three of which are in Gatlinburg.

They make more than just pancakes. In fact, Flapjack’s serves up a variety of well-done breakfast staples. 

While breakfast food is almost always good, you can’t go wrong at Flapjack’s.

Read Also: Flapjacks Pancake Cabin review: Great pancakes, strange origin story

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co in Gatlinburg
Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. in Gatlinburg is part of a motion picture concept (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

35. Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

Can I make a confession? For the life of me, I don’t understand why this restaurant concept exists. I mean, the menu is fine and the food is good, even really good, but the why really bugs me.

For instance, we were in Orlando recently at the Universal City Walk. And there, among a variety of really interesting and different dining options, was Bubba Gump, right there by the exit. 

And in fact, it was always busy. Just doing a bang-up business. 

Look, I was around for the Forrest Gump craze. Loved the movie, loved the book. 

Read the sequel, which was not great. 

I also listened to the soundtrack full of hits from the 60s and 70s. Great soundtrack. 

The fact of the matter is that I was a fairly big Forrest Gump fan. But never in a million years would I have thought to turn Bubba Gump Shrimp into a real-world thing. 

The website notes (brags?) that it remains the only causal restaurant chain based on a motion picture property.

It’s just perplexing on every level. Who demanded this or thought it was a good idea?

Clearly, that person was a genius. Here we are, nearly 30 years later and there are Bubba Gumps all over the country. So it must be a success, right? 

I keep trying to think of the next big thing in terms of motion-picture-based restaurant theming. But I’ve got nothing. There has to be another multi-million dollar idea out there just waiting to be licensed. 

Landshark Bar and Grill Gatlinburg
Landshark Bar & Grill in Gatlinburg is a cool place to grab a burger and chill (photo by James Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

34. LandShark Bar & Grill

Landshark Grill is the cousin of Bubba Gump’s.

I don’t get the whole Jimmy Buffet expanded universe. I get that Margaritaville was a whole vibe when it came out. Honestly, lyrically it’s probably one of the cleverest songs written.

It captures the ideal of beach life that so many people wish they could live. And I even like some of Buffet’s other songs. In fact, I have the greatest hits CD around somewhere.

But one day I looked up and Jimmy Buffet was no longer a singer-songwriter with somewhat limited range. He was a whole corporation. Restaurants, hotels and publishing. Jimmy Buffett was suddenly the biggest thing in the world.

And his restaurant? It’s fine. Specifically, it’s not better or worse. Fine. 

So, if that’s the life experience, the vibe you like on vacation, I’m not here to tell you any different. Get a cheeseburger and a big old beer and have a good time.  

To me? It’s basically like O’Charley’s with more novel theming. 

A meat platter at Bennett's BBQ
Bennett’s offers combo platters and pork platters so you can sample some variety (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

33. Bennett’s Pit Bar-B-Que

Part of the Johnson Family of Restaurants, Bennett’s is good but not necessarily life-changing hickory barbecue.

Sharing a place in Gatlinburg with Big Daddy’s Pizza, Bennett’s offers Southern staples like chicken wings, beef brisket and deep fried pickles. Nothing fancy, but it’s not supposed to be. 

On the menu, you’ll find everything from chicken wings to beef brisket to deep-fried pickles.

Big Daddy's Pizzeria in Gatlinburg
Big Daddy’s Big Kahuna is a favorite with guests (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

32. Big Daddy’s Pizzeria

I like Hawaiian pizza. You see a lot of folks out there in the world disparaging pineapple on pizza. Philistines. Little bit of ham, some pineapple, that’s a pizza of which anyone could be proud. 

I bring it up because Big Daddy’s Big Kahuna with pineapple, Canadian bacon and a goat cheese mozzarella-provolone blend is, I think, an especially good Hawaiian pizza – possibly because of the wood fired ovens.

I like a little adventure in my pizza and Big Daddy’s is happy to oblige.

For example, The Herbivore is loaded with spinach, fresh tomatoes, cheeses, roasted garlic, mushrooms, red peppers and topped with feta cheese. The taco pie with refried beans, ground beef, cheddar cheese, lettuce and tomatoes is excellent as well. 

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

Chicken & Dumplings and Mac & Cheese at Mama's Chicken Kitchen
I tried mac and cheese and chicken and dumplings at Mama’s Chicken Kitchen. It was delicious (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

31. Mama’s Chicken Kitchen

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.

Read Also: Mama’s Chicken Kitchen review: How they saved me from hanger

Loco Burro in Gatlinburg
Try the fajitas at Loco Burro Fresh Mex Cantina (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

30. Loco Burro Fresh Mex Cantina

Loco Burro may not be the most authentic Mexican food on the strip, but it’s good food and a fun place to eat.

If you want something safe, try the fajitas. Good, reliable and not so heavy that when you get tossed off the mechanical burro you’ll be in danger. 

In addition, Loco Burro’s rooftop bar is a great place to unwind and do a little people watching from a safe distance. 

The food is pretty good and you have to actively be trying to be a stick in the mud not to have a good time. 

Read Also: Loco Burro in Gatlinburg: Is it worth it? An honest review

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

29. Smoky Mountain Brewery in Gatlinburg

Come for the brews, stay for the food.

The Smoky Mountain Brewery is a great place if you’re into beer. But it’s also a great place if you like brewery style food in a fun atmosphere. The brews are the stars here of course. But what’s a good brew without some great pizza or a good burger to enjoy it with?

Part of the Copper Cellar family – which includes Cherokee Grill and Chesapeake’s – you know you’re going to eat well.

It’s hard for me to pass up the Big City Reuben, but if you’re looking for something different, the Grilled Yellow Fin Tuna with wasabi mayo will get your attention. 

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

28. Wild Plum Tea Room

This local favorite has sandwiches, salads, burgers and unique creations like Lobster Pie, all of which are 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 definitely worth a visit on your next trip to town. They also offer a dog friendly patio.

A pizza at Best Italian in Gatlinburg
The Best Italian restaurant on the Parkway has great pizza (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

27. Best Italian on the Parkway

What’s in a name? Some people – ordinary people – name their restaurant after themselves, Johnny’s. Some people find a concept and run with it … looking at you, Bubba Gump.

The people behind Best Italian on the Parkway? They just put it right there on jump street. You know what you’re getting before you walk in the door. 

Great pizza. Famous garlic rolls. Traditional Italian dishes like Chicken Florentine or Chicken Marsala. The Linguini & Clam Sauce – which is a little hard to find in the Smoky Mountains – is quite good as well. 

26. New Orleans Sandwich Company

Cajun food? Yes, please. Sandwiches? Of course.

With a menu that sings with Cajun goodness, the New Orleans Sandwich company offers a variety of traditional New Orleans Poboys as well as favorites like Jambalaya, Red Beans and Rice and Seafood Gumbo.

Get you some fried okra on the side and the Pontchartrain Shrimp Poboy and you’ll feel like your vacation took a turn to Louisiana. 

Tom and Earl's Back Alley Grill Signage Gatlinburg
Grab a sandwich and hang out at Tom & Earl’s in Gatlinburg (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

25. Tom & Earl’s Back Alley Grill

I don’t know Tom. And I don’t know Earl. I traditionally avoid eating foods prepared in a back alley – unless it’s one of those back-alley food court things you find in other parts of the world.

However, Tom & Earl’s wraps, sandwiches and specialty drinks are quite good. And Tom and Earl’s is just a great hang.  

A place to come and enjoy the evening when you have nothing more on the agenda than eating a little, drinking a little and enjoying the evening. There is live music on Fridays and Saturdays when closing time is a little up in the air. 

The Cheese Cupboard and Hofbrauhaus Restaurant
Enjoy hand-crafted sandwiches and specialty cheeses at The Cheese Cupboard and Hofbrauhaus Restaurant (photo by Bill Burris/TheSmokies.com)

24. Cheese Cupboard & Hofbrauhaus

First floor? A cheese shop that opened in the Village Shoppes in 1969. They sell cheeses, gourmet mustards and kosher dill pickles and other snacks. It’s wonderful. The last time I was there we got a really earthy leak cheese. It was fantastic.

Second floor? One step closer to heaven. The Hofbrauhaus Restaurant, styled after a German Pub, with a variety of sandwiches, including a famous Reuben and bratwurst. Real, honest-to-God bratwurst in East Tennessee is a rarity. 

Read Also: The Village Gatlinburg: Best 11 shops and restaurants ranked

The Eggs Benedict at Crockett's Breakfast Camp
The Eggs Benedict at Crockett’s Breakfast Camp (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

23. Crockett’s Breakfast Camp

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. I will NOT be bait and switched. They call eggs “hen fruit.” 

Hen.

Fruit.

Too much? I think so. 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.

French toast, waffles, griddle cakes as well as true cathead biscuits. 

The Elk Mountain Grande Burrito is made with three eggs, machaca, chorizo pico de gallo and jalapeños. And the Signature Corned Beef Hash Benedict comes with diced onions, peppers and herbs.

Read Also: Crockett’s Breakfast Camp in Gatlinburg review: Is it worth it?

The Atrium in Gatlinburg
The Atrium in Gatlinburg has breakfast and lunch (photo by Bill Burris/TheSmokies.com)

22. Atrium Restaurant

We have breakfast and lunch places back-to-back.

The Atrium is open from 7:30 am to 2 pm Wednesday through Sunday. Breakfast offers the usual items of pancakes, bacon and French toast.

I’m a fan of the Famous Apple Pancake, served with apples and brown sugar along with apple syrup. It’s really good. 

If you’re a big eater at breakfast, the house specials just may be your thing. The Hungry Bear comes with four eggs, any style, four pancakes, home fries and your choice of meat. The Mountain Man Platter comes with two eggs, two pancakes, home fries and an 8 oz. ribeye. You can add bacon or country ham for a little extra kicker. 

For lunch, it’s sandwiches, burgers and fried chicken. Sides include fried okra and fried green tomatoes. Honestly, I could make a meal on those alone.

With more than 20 years in the business of serving the Gatlinburg tourist trade, you know Atrium is going to be good or it wouldn’t still be around. 

Read Also: Mom and pop restaurants in Gatlinburg: Best 6 local eateries ranked

The Smoky Mountain Trout House Gatlinburg
The Smoky Mountain Trout House features 10 fresh trout dishes (photo by Bill Burris/TheSmokies.com)

21. Smoky Mountain Trout House

A trout house is what they promise and a trout house is what they deliver. The menu features 10 different fresh rainbow trout dishes as well as pasta, steaks and seafood.

Of the trout dishes, the Eisenhower is probably the tops. Breaded in cornmeal and fried, served with a side of sautéed mushrooms and onions, it’s a classic. 

The Peacemaker eggs at Ruby Sunshine
The Peacemaker allows you to pick two types of eggs benedict at Ruby Sunshine (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

20. Ruby Sunshine

A touch of New Orleans comes to the mountains.

Ruby Sunshine – from the owners of Ruby Slipper Café of New Orleans – offers Big Easy twists on Southern brunch classics, including benedicts, pancakes and French toast, as well as eye-opening cocktails which are perfect for vacation.

Ruby Sunshine is open from 7:30 am to 2 pm Monday through Friday and until 3 pm on the weekends. Every day is a good day to live that brunch life when you’re on vacation. 

The options range from sweet to savory – the Bayou Shrimp Bennies are particularly good.

There seems to be a real push on bringing Cajun and Louisiana flavors to the region. And most of the places that are doing it are quite good. As someone who grew up with Cajun cousins, I applaud the trend and hope that we get more. 

Read Also: Ruby Sunshine Gatlinburg: An unbiased review with photos

Pizza with Fresh Basil and Buffalo Cheese at Taste of Italy
We enjoyed this pizza with fresh basil and buffalo cheese at Taste of Italy (photo by Kim Grayson/TheSmokies.com)

19. Taste of Italy

Again, what’s in a name? Everything. What do you get at a Taste of Italy? A little bit of Rome, a little bit of Naples. A lot of Southern Italy in general.

I could wax poetic about the meatball sub. I typically avoid marinara dishes in restaurants because the sauce rarely lives up to what I make at home, but their homemade sauce is great. 

If you get a chance, order stromboli. In my experience, good stromboli is hard to find in the South, but this is good stromboli. 

three jimmy's good time eatery
Three Jimmy’s has cornhole and comfort food (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

18. Three Jimmy’s Good Time Eatery

Usually, when a place advertises karaoke and cornhole, I’m heading the other way. But Three Jimmy’s is no ordinary place. Located a little bit off the main strip, Three Jimmy’s is comfort food and good times. It’s right there in the title. 

Barbecue options include pulled pork, beef brisket and ribs as well as a USDA prime smoked ribeye that’s excellent. 

Comfort food options, straight from your grandmother’s recipe book, include chicken pot pie, open faced roast beef and Southern fried catfish.

Three Jimmy’s also has a surprisingly good selection of artisan pizzas for a place that has a cornhole board. The Blackberry Pie features blackberry chipotle sauce, hickory smoked pork, caramelized onions, bacon, gouda and mozzarella.

Certainly, it is an excellent choice if you’re looking for something off the beaten pizza path. The Smoky Mountain – with smoked pepperoni, ham, Italian sausage, smoked bacon, and mozzarella – is a more traditional choice. 

Read Also: Where to locals eat in Gatlinburg? Our top 9 favorite restaurants

Howards restaurant in Gatlinburg
Howards is known as the oldest restaurant in Gatlinburg (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

17. Howards Restaurant

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 tradition.

There’s nothing terribly out-of-the-ordinary on the Howards 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.  

Mellow Mushroom in Gatlinburg
Mellow Mushroom has delicious pizza in a convenient location (photo by Marie Graichen/TheSmokies.com)

16. Mellow Mushroom

Mellow Mushroom is consistently the best chain pizza in the area.

The Mellow Mushroom offers unique and legitimately great pizzas and calzones. And sometimes you just need good pizza.

Sure, there may be fancier options, but pizza is one of the culinary wonders of the world.

I’m a fan of the Pacific Rim with ham, bacon, caramelized onions, pineapple and jalapenos, but the wife prefers the Mighty Meat which invariably sets me up for a “That’s what she said” joke, so everybody wins.

Read Also: Who has the best pizza in Gatlinburg? Here’s our top 5, ranked

Ole Red cocktail
Ole Red has a great atmosphere with live music (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

15. Ole Red

While it can be hard to get a table at Ole Red on a busy night, I find that they have surprisingly good food in a relaxing atmosphere.

And the best part is, it’s a great place to catch some live music.

The menu has standard bar food: Tacos, nachos, fried chicken, salads, sandwiches, burgers, catfish, fries, tater tots, etc. You shouldn’t expect anything too upscale, but it’s not bad, and the atmosphere makes it all worth it.

Ole Red is located in downtown Gatlinburg. Try to go on off-peak times for best results.

Read Also: Is Ole Red in Gatlinburg worth it? When to go, what to order

Estrella Hondumex in Gatlinburg
This is some of the most authentic Mexican food in the area (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

14. Estrella Hondumex

This taste of Honduras is on Roaring Fork Road in Gatlinburg.

Located in the back of a Hispanic grocery, Estrella Hondumex is a fantastic place to get real Central American and Mexican cuisine that you won’t find on the strip.

Try the Asada Honduras style, or if you like a little more kick, the Shrimp Devil may just be what the doctor ordered.  

But practice your Spanish before you go. You might need it.

Read Also: These are the best Mexican restaurants near Gatlinburg, our top 4 ranked

pancakes at the pancake pantry
Pictured: Caribbean pancakes, chocolate chip pancakes and a side of bacon (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

13. Pancake Pantry

A Gatlinburg classic, if you’re looking for breakfast, move the Pantry up to the top 5 places to eat, easy.

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).

Bonus tip: If the line is too long at Pancake Pantry, other solid pancake options in Gatlinburg include Crockett’s Breakfast Camp and Log Cabin Pancake House.

Read Also: Is the Pancake Pantry in Gatlinburg worth it? Best 5 things to order

CLIFF TOP AT ANAKEESTA
Anakeesta’s Cliff Top Restaurant features both climate-controlled indoor seating and beautiful outdoor seating with a view (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

12. Cliff Top at Anakeesta

Anakeesta’s dining experience with a view, Cliff Top gets dinged a little on the list for essentially coming with a cover charge. It costs just to get into Anakeesta.

But Cliff Top gets a boost for offering the best open-air dining view in the Smokies. So maybe it’s a wash.

A great date night spot, Cliff Top offers burgers, sandwiches and steaks. 

If you visit Anakeesta, purchase your tickets in advance to save time when you arrive, and check Tripster to save a couple of bucks off your admission.

Read Also: Is Anakeesta worth the money? An honest review

Alamo Steakhouse in Gatlinburg
The Alamo in Gatlinburg is a popular steakhouse (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

11. Alamo Steakhouse

We start off with something of a shocker. The Alamo at number 11? This is the worst thing to ever happen at any Alamo anywhere. 

Still, the Alamo is a fantastic restaurant, many people’s favorite in the entire city. It’s legitimately great.

But in my book, there are a couple of steakhouses that are better, and a list with nothing but steakhouses at the top would be really 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. 

There are lots of steak options plus chicken and some seafood. It’s all great.

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.

Read Also: Alamo Steakhouse in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge: An honest review

Crawdaddy's in Gatlinburg
Crawdaddy’s offers a patio on an upper level in Gatlinburg (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

10. Crawdaddy’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar

With a menu built straight from the Hank Williams classic “Jambalaya,” Crawdaddy’s does a good job of bringing a little Cajun flavor to the mountains.

What I know about Cajun or New Orleans cuisine is a fair question.

Papa’s best friend from the war was a Cajun who’d come to visit Southern Indiana with coolers full of mudbugs, gumbo and other Cajun classics.

I’m not an expert, but I’m not a novice either. Go for the low country boil and put your bib on. 

Mojo Broth at the Melting Pot
“Mojo” broth at The Melting Pot (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

9. The Melting Pot

Honestly, if it was just a list of my personal favorites, The Melting Pot might be at the top of the list.

But The Melting Pot is a chain and they have a location in Cincinnati and you don’t go on vacation to eat at places you can eat at in Cincinnati. 

Be forewarned, The Melting Pot is not a cheap night out, but it does make for an excellent date night. 

The four-course meal includes cheese fondue, a salad, an entrée fondue and a dessert fondue.

For your entrée, in addition to choosing your proteins, you choose your cooking style which can be a hot oil or a broth. The hot oil is fun because you get a variety of batters to dip things in.

And the battered mushroom caps stuffed with green goddess dip and deep-fried are freaking delicious.

But it’s also easier to mess up your expensive meat options in the oil, which means you have to stay alert at all times. 

Later, for dessert, choose from a variety of chocolate fondues – I’m big on the Yin & Yang.

Frankly, it’s a majestic dining experience, and I’m a little mad they allow the people of Cincinnati access. 

Read Also: The Melting Pot Gatlinburg: An honest review, what to order

The Park Grill in Gatlinburg
The Park Grill offers free parking for patrons (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

8. The Park Grill

Dine in the comfort of this rustic mountain lodge setting near the top of the Gatlinburg strip.

Come for the finest meats available and stay for the salad bar that serves as the perfect complement to the meal or as a meal itself.

Be sure to try the famous Shrimp and Crab Bisque if you’re big into bisques. The Yard Bird – herb-rubbed over roasted chicken – is a classic. The Baby Back Ribs are also exceptional.

Certainly, If you are looking for a mountain dining experience, The Park Grill is a perfect choice. 

And since The Park Grill sits near the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, they like to consider themselves the official restaurant of the park.

Read Also: The Park Grill in Gatlinburg: Is it worth it? An honest review

Tennessee Jed's in Gatlinburg
Tennessee Jed’s in Gatlinburg is best known for craft sandwiches (photo by John Gullion/TheSmokies.com)

7. Tennessee Jed’s

This restaurant is a sandwich shop on the strip open from 8 am to 3 pm (hours may vary) and is designed to serve breakfast and lunch for people who have other things planned in the day.

If Subway’s people are sandwich artists, the folks at Tennessee Jed’s are Van Goghs.

In addition, for those who appreciate the beauty of a great Reuben or Cubano or even the classic Kraut Dog, Tennessee Jed’s is a destination in itself. 

Read Also: Tennessee Jed’s: The best thing to order at this local gem in Gatlinburg

Delauder's BBQ
A local place like Delauder’s often has the best BBQ in town (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

6. Delauder’s BBQ

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 the collard greens.

It’s consistently one of the best BBQ restaurants in Gatlinburg.

Read Also: Best BBQ in Gatlinburg: Top 6 BBQ restaurants ranked

Cherokee Grill's Prosperity Steak
The Prosperity Steak and Loaded Baked Potato at Cherokee Grill Gatlinburg (Photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

5. The Cherokee Grill

The Cherokee Grill is a steakhouse in Gatlinburg along the Parkway that offers a woodsy lodge setting.

It has a traditional American menu with seafood, fried chicken, crab cakes and more.

Of course, they offer a variety of steaks which is often one of the most popular selections.

Order add-ons with the steak, like the Boursin cheese or soy ginger sauce. You can’t go wrong either way.

They also offer free parking, a rare find in Gatlinburg.

Read Also: Cherokee Grill in Gatlinburg: An honest steakhouse review [PHOTOS]

Calhoun's sign in Gatlinburg TN
Calhoun’s in Gatlinburg TN is known for their ribs (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

4. Calhoun’s

An East Tennessee legend, Calhoun’s famous barbecue is a staple of dinners all over the region. There’s some overlap in experience – in my opinion – between Calhoun’s and The Park Grill.

You can’t really go wrong with either.

The smoked sausage and cheese plate is an underrated starter but honestly, if you don’t order some bacon-wrapped beef brisket burnt ends, I don’t know what you’re doing with your life. 

Can’t go wrong with burgers, pork, sandwiches, BBQ and salads – though honestly it almost seems like an insult to order a salad entrée here.

I have also heard excellent things about the chicken tenders but can never bring myself so close to BBQ glory only to order a chicken tender.

A steak at the Peddler with sides
The Peddler is best known for its quality steak (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

3. The Peddler

Here we are.

The rarified air of the top 3. 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 is a Gatlinburg 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.

Read Also: The Peddler Steakhouse: The most romantic dinner for two in Gatlinburg

The Greenbrier
The Greenbrier Restaurant is a historic landmark and upscale dining establishment in Gatlinburg (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

2. The Greenbrier

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. 

Read Also: The Greenbrier: The best and most haunted restaurant in Gatlinburg

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

1. Chesapeake’s

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 steam 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. 

Read Also: Who has the best seafood in Pigeon Forge? Our top 6, ranked

Bonus: Dick’s Last Resort

LOL just kidding. Gotcha back.

Read Also: What is the restaurant where they insult you in Gatlinburg?

What do YOU think is the best Gatlinburg restaurant? Let us know in the comments.

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