A local ranks his favorite places to find fried chicken in the Smoky Mountains
In my experience, when it comes to Smoky Mountain cuisine, I think barbecue is probably most people’s first association. But the Smokies are also a great place to find Southern-style crispy fried chicken done just right. With that in mind, I took it upon myself to try over two dozen places that serve fried chicken in the Smoky Mountains (tough gig but somebody has to do it). And I carefully documented my findings to create this ultimate list of places to get the best-fried chicken in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. and the Smoky Mountains. So if you find yourself craving yard bird fried to perfection, you’ve come to the right place.
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1. Old Mill Restaurant
Located in a grist mill originally constructed in the 1780s, The Old Mill Restaurant offers two kinds of delicious fried chicken, breasts and legs, and other classic American dishes. I highly recommend the Southern Fried Chicken Combo seasoned and breaded with a blend of spices and stone-ground breading. But be warned, The Old Mill is also one of the most popular restaurants in the area, so wait times may be long, and they do not accept reservations or call-ahead seating. The Old Mill is located inside the Old Mill District at 164 Old Mill Ave, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863.
2. Applewood Farmhouse Grill
At the Applewood Farmhouse, the first four items on the supper menu are chicken items. This is a good sign. The first, and my personal favorite, is the Applewood Famous Southern Fried Chicken, golden brown and juicy. It’s perfection. It’s so good that we’re willing to overlook the fact that the restaurant is technically in Sevierville. Plus, every entree comes with a complimentary serving of Applewood’s apple fritters with apple butter and applewood julep. It’s a great option whether you’re eating breakfast, lunch or dinner. But do note, that chicken is notably absent from the breakfast menu. The Applewood Farmhouse is located at 220 Apple Valley Rd, Sevierville, TN at the Apple Barn & Cider Mill.
3. Huck Finn’s Catfish
Admittedly, I wouldn’t say I like recommending a fried catfish place for chicken, but at Huck Finn’s their whole deal is frying stuff. Gator? Fried. Chicken livers? Crunchy. Corn nuggets. Pickles. Shrimp. All fried. They even deep fry the bacon. If you want something fried, you can rely on the folks at Huck Finn’s Catfish to do it. But My personal recommendation, when in Rome, would be to go for the fried catfish and chicken combo platter. Huck Finn’s does not accept reservations at the time of this writing, but they do offer take-out. Huck Finn’s is located at 3330 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN.
5. Mama’s Farmhouse
Chicken is very popular down on the farm. At Mama’s, they say it took two years to perfect their award-winning fried chicken dinners. If I’m being honest, two years doesn’t seem like enough but the chicken is quite good. This restaurant features family-style dining which means you’ll be ordering “for the table” with a selection of meats that rotates seasonally, and sometimes daily. But fried chicken is on the menu every day, just as God intended. And if you’re looking for a place in the Smokies that takes reservations (which can be surprisingly rare around here) you’re in luck! They accept reservations online and via phone. Mama’s Farmhouse is located at 208 Pickel St, Pigeon Forge, TN.
4. Mama’s Chicken Kitchen
If you love Mama’s Farmhouse, Mama’s Chicken Kitchen in Gatlinburg offers the same delicious chicken served by the plate or by the bucket. Unlike its sister restaurant, this location is a bit more casual and lacks the family-dining slant – which can be nice if you have picky eaters in tow (or you simply prefer to have your own entree). Plus – they share a location with JOE and POP’s Sub Shoppe (owned by the same restaurant group). So if someone in your party isn’t in the mood for chicken, they can simply opt for a handcrafted sub sandwich instead. Mama’s also offers takeout and online ordering which is perfect for a picnic in the Smoky Mountains or for feeding a large group of people. We are notorious for skipping the muss and fuss of going out in Gatlinburg when crowds are at their peak and simply swinging by Mama’s for takeout. I’m awarding bonus points for convenience. Mama’s Chicken Kitchen is located at 1244 East Pkwy, Gatlinburg, TN.
6. Old Mill Pottery House Cafe
The Old Mill Pottery House Cafe is one of the best places to eat in Pigeon Forge. And it’s steeped in local history. The structure the restaurant now occupies was originally constructed as the home of a local craftsman who founded Pigeon Forge Pottery in 1954. However, there is a downside. Wait times can be lengthy due to its popularity. And like their sister restaurant The Old Mill, they do not accept reservations. If you get a chance to eat there, the Buttermilk Chicken Melt, which has fried chicken breasts topped with mushrooms and melted buttermilk cheese, is absolutely delicious. The Pottery House is located at 3341 Old Mill St, Pigeon Forge, TN.
7. Frizzle Chicken Farmhouse Cafe
Located next to The Comedy Barn and barely squawking its way onto our list is the Frizzle Chicken Farmhouse Cafe and its animatronic chickens. Do keep in mind, that this is, exclusively, a lunch and breakfast place. They close daily at 1 p.m. And while there’s no true fried chicken option on the menu, the chicken and waffles earn this spot. In truth, I find it disturbing to eat chicken with the animatronic Frizzle Chickens looking down from above. I can feel the judgment from Dolly Parthen, Tanya Clucker, Oprah Henfrey and Elvis Preslay. Did I mention the kids will also love it? Frizzle Chicken Farmhouse Cafe is located at 2785 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN. They do not accept online reservations at the time of this writing.
8. Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen
I’ve given Paula Deen’s a lot of guff over the years, fairly so, I think. But fried chicken is a perfect main course for a family-style restaurant like this that specializes in comfort foods. It’s a good spot for the crew to sit down and enjoy some Southern fried chicken, family style. The homemade biscuits are also delicious. Paula Deen’s is located at The Island at Pigeon Forge at 31 The Island Dr #8101, Pigeon Forge, TN. Like so many others on this list, they don’t take reservations either. Are you sensing a pattern? The show-up and wait must be a Smoky Mountain. It’s weird, I know.
9. Timberwood Grill
Also located at The Island in Pigeon Forge right beside Paula Deen’s we have the Timberwood Grill. Any place that serves “cracklins” knows its way around a fryer. The Twin Forks Kickin’ Chicken is boneless – points off for boneless – buttermilk marinated chicken breast dredged in secret seasonings. Points were also awarded for the use of the word dredged and secret seasonings – fried golden and topped with white gravy. Trust me folks, this is good, crispy fried chicken. The Timberwood Grill is located at 131 The Island Dr #1101, Pigeon Forge, TN. And guess what – they don’t take reservations.
10. The Local Goat
The Local Goat is a local favorite, probably the best restaurant on the list. But while they deep fry deviled eggs and green tomatoes, most of the chicken dishes are grilled. They do offer chicken tenders, but honestly, you don’t go to the Local Goat for chicken tenders. However, they do also offer a southern chicken & waffles meal which features a crispy chicken breast. As a side note, the Local Goat also offers juicy burgers, if you’re in the mood. The buns and rolls are baked fresh daily. This is another popular restaurant in Pigeon Forge so be warned, wait times can be long. We recommend grabbing a reservation online before you go. The Local Goat is located at 2167 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN.
Where is your favorite fried chicken venue in Pigeon Forge TN? Let us know in the comments!