It was the winter of 1988-89 and my stepdad Joe had an idea.
Joe was still a relatively new addition to the family. But the transition – at least from my standpoint – had gone pretty well.
We’d moved to a cool A-frame with gigantic glass windows overlooking a vast forested valley outside of Bloomington, Indiana.
Providing for a family was new for Joe. And as a father now myself, I can imagine it had to be a bit daunting.
But Joe had an idea.
He’d buy an entire pig, have it butchered and we’d have meat in the freezer to last us the winter. In the long run, it was going to save us a fortune at the grocery store.
Certainly seems like a good idea on paper.
But, it turns out, it can take a while for a family of four to work its way through a hog.
I’d go to the freezer to get the meat to thaw and our supply never seemed to lessen.
It seemed like elves were replenishing the supply of pork chops overnight. We were trapped in some sort of pork dimension. A Groundhog Day of our own making, forced through frugal prudence to eat the same meal again and again and again.
The bacon and sausage were good. Somehow, I never got tired of the bacon or sausage. But reader, I got tired of the pork, especially the chops. Honestly? I’ve never looked at a chop the same way again.
In fact, if Joe also had done that with a cow, I might be a vegan today.
That’s not to say that I haven’t touched a pork chop in all these years. Sometimes, the sale at the store is too good to pass up and we’ll throw a bunch on the grill.
Over the years, I’ve been to places that serve supposedly fantastic pork chops, the best. Certainly, I’ve been tempted a few times. However, when it comes down to it, I have rarely been able to utter the words, “I’ll have the pork chop.”
I made an exception at Cherokee Grill in Gatlinburg
I bring that up to say that the Cherokee Grill – the self-proclaimed best steak house in Gatlinburg – is the place where I made an exception.
It was something about the Prosperity Pork Chop. It’s marinated in olive oil, garlic and pepper and served with Worcestershire butter. And it pushed past the apathy built over that winter long ago and called out to my soul.
And I have to say it was excellent. But afterward, I wished I’d ordered a steak.
The Cherokee Grill may be the least appreciated of the great restaurants in the heart of the Smoky Mountains. But make no mistake; the Cherokee Grill with its great food, excellent service and cool mountain ambiance belongs among the best.
The grill also takes reservations, which can be very helpful in the busy tourist area.
What else is on the menu at Cherokee Grill?
The menu isn’t atypical for a great restaurant; steaks, seafood and a variety of burgers and sandwiches. Though it bills itself as a steak house – I never got that vibe. I mean they serve great steaks. But they also serve so much more than great steaks. Indeed, it has always felt more like a great, well-rounded restaurant to me.
Apps include Shrimp Cocktail, Crab Stuffed Mushrooms and Fried Calamari. They also offer a Chicken Tortizza and an Asian Egg Roll, which are excellent. The Tortizza is a tortilla with pulled chicken, over-roasted garlic tomatoes, spinach, red onions and cheese. It is, in fact, good enough to be the main course.
Steak offerings include the New York Strip, the Filet Mignon and the Prosperity Steak – the sirloin version of the pork chop I ordered.
They are among the best steaks you’ll get on the main drag in Gatlinburg. Non-steak offerings include the Rotisserie Chicken, Maryland Crab Cakes and a variety of fresh fish or charbroiled shrimp.
Burgers and sides at Cherokee Grill
Sides include the famous Tennessee Blue Cheese Grits and Baked Macaroni & Spinach with Spicy Cheese. They also have what may be the best burger in Gatlinburg.
One of the things that make it feel like more than a steakhouse to me is the brunch menu. It features a variety of omelets, waffles and salads.
I love the Classic Crab Bisque as a starter followed by the Crab Cakes Benedict. You can also get steaks for brunch – which is maybe an argument that it is a steakhouse after all.
No matter what you order, the food quality is going to be exceptional. They only use the freshest ingredients. And, if you’re taking the family, the kid’s menu has more options than a lot of the places you’ll visit.
Cherokee Grill menu and prices
The prices are on par for many steakhouses in the area. Salads range from about $8-17.
Burgers and sandwiches range from about $12-19. Entrees will cost between $16-28, with fried chicken being on the lower end of the price range and salmon being on the higher end.
Steaks range from about $24-37. Check out the full dinner menu here.
Cherokee Grill’s microbrews
The grill also offers a robust selection of microbrews from its sister restaurant, the Smoky Mountain Brewery.
There are seven that are available all year and a few seasonal options and the Brewmaster Specials, which are brewed in small batches and only occasionally available.
I’m fond of the Tuckaleechee Porter and the Cherokee Red, but my taste in beer tends to skew away from the mainstream.
Where is the Cherokee Grill located?
Located near the top of downtown Gatlinburg, not far from the entrance to the national park, the Cherokee Grill is a great place for a special occasion or a romantic dinner. It is at 1002 Parkway in Gatlinburg, TN.
The restaurant also offers free parking, which is a big deal toward the top of the strip where parking is harder to come by.
Does Cherokee Grill have a dress code?
There’s no formal dress code. It’s your typical casual dining steakhouse. Still, if you’re coming from a day at the theme park, you might want to change out of your tank tops and shorts.
Who owns Cherokee Grill in Gatlinburg?
The Copper Cellar Family of Restaurants, founded in 1975, owns the Cherokee Grill and 20 other restaurants in the area. In addition to three event venues.
Above all, your great time will go far beyond the meal. The Cherokee Grill is one of the more unique dining experiences in the Smokies. The stone exterior and granite accented interior set the mood to have a great time. And the warmth from the centrally located fireplace casts just the right ambiance.
The oversized bar and prime views of the strip make it a great place to hang out and soak in the atmosphere of the Smokies – while surrounded with Smoky Mountain history.
For the owners of the Cherokee Grill, the restaurant is a chance to pay homage to the people of the mountains.
“We honor their lasting presence by sticking true to our roots. From our regionally-inspired menu to our friendly service, we want everyone who walks through our doors to feel like part of our tribe,” the Cherokee Grill states.
To achieve that feeling the mountain lodge is decorated with an abundance of Cherokee artifacts. And they provide historic value and pay respects to the people and generations that came before.
Have you eaten at the Cherokee Grill in Gatlinburg? What did you pick on the menu? Let us know in the comments!