A Smoky Mountain native offers her opinion on The Greenbrier Restaurant
When you grow up on the outskirts of the Great Smoky Mountains, sometimes you miss some obvious stuff. For instance, I overlooked The Greenbrier for years. While The Greenbrier is a favorite among locals (and heavily shrouded in local lore) you might notice that it’s not heavily advertised. Also, it’s not right along any main roads. It’s in an area of the Smoky Mountains where you have to be looking for it to know it’s there. Some might call it a hidden gem. I call it the best restaurant in all of Gatlinburg.
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RELATED VIDEO: A look at the Greenbrier Restaurant in Gatlinburg
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The Greenbrier food and menu
It’s worth noting that this establishment is a higher-end restaurant for the Gatlinburg area. They use only fresh produce and fresh vegetables and the finest cut of meats. It features a unique chef-driven menu and dishes that you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else in the mountains. But the downside is that if you have a favorite item, it may only be available for a limited time since these chef specials are known to rotate or change. Main dishes range from $26-45. Steaks, bone-in ribeye and pork chops range from $48-55. It’s not the kind of place where you can decide to order a sandwich with water to keep the bill low. But that being said, the food is high quality. The prices, in my opinion, are well justified. You can view the current full menu online here.
For the appetizers, they currently offer items including (but not limited to) pork belly and ribs, Nashville hot oysters and baked goat cheese. For the main entrees, you can choose from delicious options like stuffed trout, salmon and pan-roasted chicken. Of course, the Greenbrier has a selection of steaks, chops and pork dishes that compete with some of the best steaks in Gatlinburg. Current cuts include bone-in ribeye, New York strip and filet of beef. A choice of soups or house salad with a selection of homemade salad dressings and crisp salad greens is also available. Be sure to also ask for their cocktail and dessert menu.
The Greenbrier pros
The list of Greenbrier pros is a long one. It has amazing food, and it’s also rich in history (more on this later). The restaurant is beautiful and would be a great spot for a romantic date night. It’s also home to the Greenbrier Whiskey Society, meaning there’s a wide selection of bourbon, whiskey and spirits to taste. They also have bottled and draft beer. On our last visit, I ordered the salmon, my sister had trout and my brother-in-law got the filet of beef. On a more recent visit, my husband had the duck. And y’all, it was some of the best food I’ve ever had in the Smokies. The poultry was flavorful and juicy. And the steak? The steak was cooked beautifully. Melt-in-your-mouth perfection. We were too full for dessert, but I think that means we’ll have to make another trip soon.
The Greenbrier cons
When writing area restaurant reviews we do our best to be as fair as possible. And oftentimes that means being transparent about both the positive aspects and the negative aspects of the meal. But when it comes to the Greenbrier I have to admit, coming up with a list of cons is simply an impossible task. I’ve never had an issue grabbing a reservation (although I still strongly recommend making one a couple of days in advance just in case). I’ve never had an issue parking. The staff is always super friendly. And the food is always excellent.
The only negatives I can come up with are the fact they are closed on Mondays and the thing I mentioned earlier about the rotating menu. While I do love a good seasonal rotating menu, I know I can’t let myself fall too in love with any single dish as it might not be available next time I dine. Love can sometimes feel so fleeting. Editor’s note: I’m also not that mad about the fact they close on Mondays and kinda love that they give their employees a guaranteed day off every week. I’m just being selfish. Love can be selfish, too.
The Greenbrier ambiance
If you’re into Tennessee folklore, you’ll probably enjoy a visit to The Greenbrier restaurant. Even though the restaurant has an exceptional, elevated speakeasy cozy cabin-like atmosphere, it’s also said to be one of the most haunted places in Gatlinburg. Ya know, if you believe in that sort of thing.
Is The Greenbrier haunted?
In the 1930s, The Greenbrier was a mountain lodge that hunters, loggers and hikers frequented. Legend has it that a young bride-to-be named Lydia hung herself from the rafters of the old lodge after being left at the altar. The man who left her was said to be found within days following Lydia’s passing. He appeared to have been mauled by a mountain lion. Some believe that Lydia’s spirit took revenge on him. Some even believe that she took the form of a mountain lion to do so. If that’s the case, I suppose she returned to her human-like form when she came back to haunt the lodge-turned-restaurant.
The Murfreesboro Post provides the most detail on the legend. Some workers have noticed “food items being knocked off shelves” in the pantry. Some diners have reported seeing the spirit as a “small, sad figure” lingering along the stairway, or around the upper-floor landing. Additionally, some employees claim to feel her “chilling presence”.
I can’t say that my family or I have seen Lydia at The Greenbrier. However, something is chilling about looking up toward the second floor. The first time we visited, before knowing about the legend, one of the members of our party looked up at the staircase and said it felt “spooky”. Despite the alleged revenge on her ex, some reports say that Lydia is a “friendly ghost”. Some even speculate that she doesn’t know she has perished. Ghost Hunters once visited The Greenbrier restaurant to investigate. The East Tennessee Paranormal Research Society found photographic anomalies and “cheeky responses” to questions via Electronic Voice Phenomena, or EVP.
Hours and location
The Greenbrier is open on Tuesday-Sunday from 4:30-9 pm. It’s closed on Mondays. Remember, hours may vary by season. The Greenbrier is located at 370 Newman Road in Gatlinburg, Tenn. Reservations are available online.
Have you been to The Greenbrier restaurant? Have you seen the ghost Lydia? Let us know in the comments!