11 Life-Changing Foods You Need to Try on Your Next Trip to Dollywood

cinnamon bread at the grist mill at dollywood

With so many food options in Dollywood, it's hard to pick a favorite (photos by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Local recommends the best food at the Dollywood theme park in TN

As someone who has lived within a few minutes of the Dollywood theme park for the past 20 years, I can confidently tell you that the theme park has a lot going on for itself. Great namesake. Excellent rides. Entertaining shows. But among the many Dollywood accolades, it’s one that’s rarely talked about that I think, continues to put this theme park on the map – the wide variety of quality food options. After all, this ain’t no run-of-the-mill theme park. At Dollywood, they smoke, fry and saute many items on site. And no matter when you go to Dollywood, you’re going to find something good to eat. But sometimes, with so many options, and limited stomach capacity, it can be hard to decide where to dine while at the park, and what to order. This is why I’ve decided to make this ultimate Dollywood foodie guide, featuring my personal recommendations on where to go and what to eat while at the park.

RELATED VIDEO: 16 Best Foods at Dollywood

market square skillets
I’m particularly a fan of the huge skillet meals at Market Square (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

1. Market Square (big skillets)

Market Square Big Skillets is my happy place. Giant skillets frying steak and sausage sandwiches right next to a funnel cake stand? I practically skip as we approach Market Square. I am happy and joyous. The menu changes throughout the year, but I love everything about it. I love the food, smells, and the outdoor tables where you sit and people watch. It is the closest place on Earth to the fall festivals of my youth and it is my favorite thing about every trip to Dollywood. The menu changes with the season, but there is never a time I don’t love it.

cinnamon bread from the grist mill
Whatever you do, don’t leave Dollywood without trying the cinnamon bread (photo by Kim Grayson/TheSmokies.com)

2. Grist Mill (cinnamon bread)

If you don’t go anywhere else, at least try the famous Dollywood cinnamon bread. It’s one of the most popular treats in the whole theme park. Dollywood’s cinnamon bread can be found at the Grist Mill, and it is good in just about any season. But I think the warm, gooey dose of cinnamon and sugar is even better in the fall and winter.

apple pie from spotlight bakery
The treats at the Spotlight Bakery are made fresh every day. But we recommend sampling a slice of the famous 25-lb apple pie (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

3. Spotlight Bakery (apple pie)

For those with a sweet tooth, be sure to check out the Spotlight Bakery. Famously, this is where you’ll find Dollywood’s 25-pound apple pie. It’s made from scratch in a cast-iron skillet. A single slice weighs three whole pounds. Editor’s note: In case you missed it at The Grist Mill, you can also usually score cinnamon bread at the Spotlight Bakery on your way out of the park (and usually with less wait!)

Miss Lillian's BBQ at Dollywood
Miss Lillian has delicious smoked meats and fried chicken (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

4. Miss Lillian’s Smokehouse (BBQ)

In 2004, park officials were looking for someone to portray Miss Lillian, the owner and proprietor of Miss Lillian’s Smoke House. They found Connie Freeman Prince working at Dollywood’s sister park Silver Dollar City in Branson, Mo., and brought her on board. Over the years, Miss Lillian has developed into a Dollywood icon, and the Smokehouse is one of the most popular and best, in my opinion, restaurants in the park. If you’re lucky, you might find Miss Lillian greeting customers at the door. I recommend the the BBQ pork sandwich platter or a hickory-smoked turkey leg.

Aunt Granny's at Dollywood
Aunt Granny’s offers family-style, all-you-can-eat meals (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

5. Aunt Granny’s Restaurant (fried chicken)

Aunt Granny’s is so good that it has been recognized among the best theme park restaurants in the country. When I lived up north, they called this kind of deal a smorgasbord. In addition to being delicious, Aunt Granny’s has the added benefit of having something for everyone. From fried chicken (my favorite) to stew to tacos, if you’ve got a crew with disparate palettes, this is the place to go. My one caveat for Aunt Granny’s is that so much food can be a tad heavy. It’s all you can eat. So while your body might be begging for a nap, the kids will be calling for a long hike up the side of a mountain to ride a rollercoaster.

till and harvest nachos
Till & Harvest has tasty treats in Wildwood Grove. But we are enamored with the chicken nachos (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

6. Till & Harvest Food Hall (chicken nachos)

The Till and Harvest started out as a Mexican eatery in Wildwood Grove. At first, I was dubious, but I sampled the food, and I was surprised that it was actually really good. Now, it can feature both American and Mexican dishes but the food options can sometimes vary. Overall, I like dining here because Wildwood Grove is such an interesting space within the park. With wider areas to roam, plenty of shade and spots to rest, it can, on a sweltering summer day, feel a bit like an oasis in the middle of a theme park. When available, go for the chicken nachos – they’re not your typical theme park nacho meal. The quality holds up to any Mexican restaurant in town.

Granny Ogle's Ham and Beans
Granny Ogle specializes in traditional country cooking (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

7. Granny Ogle’s Ham ‘n’ Beans (meatloaf or pot roast)

In general, I don’t like to be talked into the sit-down eating establishments during most of the year at Dollywood. I prefer the more mobile options, eat and move. But I make an exception for Granny Ogle’s. I love their meatloaf, pot roast, beans and taters. Chances are if you’ve come to Dollywood, you’re seeking a certain type of Southern experience. From a culinary standpoint, this is it.

nashville hot chicken sandwich
The Front Porch Care has great sandwiches and fries, but my personal favorite is the Nashville Hot Chicken sandwich (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

8. Front Porch Cafe (chicken sandwich)

If you want to sit and relax a bit, stop in the Front Porch Cafe. It features family-style meals and shareables with vegan and vegetarian options available. This is a place where I like to get a simple sandwich or burger and fries. But my favorite menu item would probably be the Nashville Hot Chicken sandwich.

dogs and taters
Hot dogs are a great, quick option when you’re on the move (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

9. Dogs N Taters (hot dog & curly fries)

Most of the time when I’m at a theme park, I want to maximize my time with attractions and shows. Theme park dining is part of the experience for some. For me, I usually just want to grab some quick fuel and then keep it moving. Dogs N Taters is a good spot to get foot-long corndogs, hot dogs and signature curly fries. You can find hot dogs at Dogs N Taters next to the Back Porch Theater.

Red's Drive in at Dollywood
Red’s Drive-In was inspired by a diner from Dolly’s youth (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

10. Red’s Drive-In (hamburger)

Red’s Drive-In is a 50s-style diner that opened in the theme park in the mid-90s. The restaurant was inspired by Red’s Cafe, where a young Dolly Parton ate her first hamburger in downtown Sevierville. It’s a great place to get a delicious burger and crispy fries. Plus, it’s inside so you have air conditioning. Red’s is located at Jukebox Junction.

Hickory House BBQ
Hickory House BBQ has surprisingly good BBQ for a theme park (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

11. Hickory House (BBQ)

When it comes to pulled pork, I’m a bit of a snob. I will not endorse any old Jim Bob or Cooter with a smoker and I am especially leery of barbecue prepared in a theme park. But pride be darned, it’s good. It’s southern and it’s quick service. Also, they’ve got turkey legs, chicken tenders and fries if your kids are a little choosy like mine. As parents and veteran theme park goers, the first thing we do upon arrival is check the maps for bathroom locations and assess where chicken tenders and fries can be obtained in case of emergencies.

Where do you like to eat at Dollywood? Let me know in the comments below.

Have a question or comment about something in this article? Contact our staff here. You may also contact our editorial team at info@thesmokies.com.

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Disclosure: We have used and experienced all the products and activities recommended on The Smokies. We may receive compensation when you click on links to some products and experiences featured.

1 thought on “11 Life-Changing Foods You Need to Try on Your Next Trip to Dollywood”

  1. Aunt granny’s was bad last year and worst this year. Food was so cold, ask waitress, she said that was the best they could do. Then everyone around us said the same thing. We wondered if Dolly knew how bad it was if anyone cares. We love dollywood and we’ll find somewhere else to eat.

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