Best hole in the wall restaurants in Gatlinburg, our top 5 ranked

Delauders BBQ in Gatlinburg

Sometimes a good "hole in the wall" is the best place to eat. Here are our favorite places in Gatlinburg. Pictured: Delauder's BBQ on the Parkway in Gatlinburg (left photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com; right photos contributed by Delauder's BBQ)

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In a world filled with chain restaurants and expensive dining options, sometimes you find the best restaurants where you least expect them.

We call them hole in the wall restaurants for lack of a better term. However, we use it with affection.

Often, the best places to find great food are at some local favorite with low overhead. These hole in the wall places can be found in downtown Gatlinburg, TN or off the beaten path nearby.

But they all offer delicious food just as good as you might find at some more upscale restaurants like the Alamo Steakhouse or The Peddler Steakhouse.

And sure, when you’re on vacation it’s fun to try the great restaurants. But it’s also fun to hunt down those hidden gems. And that is true if you’re in the Smoky Mountains or some of the world’s great cities like New York, Chicago or Cleveland. You want to find the inside stuff.

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

Let’s start with a few parameters

First of all, to us, a hole in the wall place does not mean scuzzy or unsafe or low quality.

A hole in the wall restaurant might be located in a strip mall or the back of a gas station, but it doesn’t mean you can’t find something wonderful. And it certainly doesn’t mean you can’t find a great place if you look hard enough.

In fact, in our experience, you can find some of the best hole in the wall local restaurants away from the tourist traps. When you come to Sevier County, don’t be afraid to seek out the southern barbeque joints and the Mexican restaurants. And even the occasional Italian restaurant that isn’t what you’d consider fancy.

The truth is you can find great carne asada, beef brisket or even hot dogs and French fries in the region’s hidden gem restaurants.

As a disclaimer, remember that smaller restaurants tend to have varying business hours. Always double-check the hours ahead of time when planning your meal.

So, without further ado, here are some of the unique places you can find to eat well in the Smokies.

Split Rail Eats in Gatlinburg
Split Rail Eats is between a vintage clothes shop and a fine art photography studio on Glades Road in Gatlinburg (photo by Bill Burris/TheSmokies.com)

5. Split Rail Eats

I have a few cardinal rules for life that I live by.

First, at this point in my life, my butt should never, ever be higher than my head. If that happens, something has gone terribly wrong. Second, if a restaurant has the word “eats” in its title, it’s gonna be good.

Split Rail Eats, located between a vintage clothes shop and a fine art photography studio, offers chiefly classic American food done well. And it’s good food and a great place for the whole family.

Burgers, sandwiches and a variety of “tater bowls” are the stars of the menu. Tater bowls are filled with tater tots and covered in a variety of ways. There’s a greek bowl, taco bowl, a buffalo bowl and a cheeseburger bowl from which to choose.

This is a great spot located at 849 Glades Road, a good distance from the heart of Gatlinburg.

a hot dog in front of Tennessee Jed's in Gatlinburg
Tennessee Jed’s specializes in sandwiches that really hit the spot (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

4. Tennessee Jed’s

You had me at craft sandwiches.

Located at 631 Parkway next to God’s World, Tennessee Jed’s is likely the best place you’ll ever eat that directly abuts a Dollar General Store. There’s just something about a perfectly made sandwich.

I love the Rueben and ham and Swiss. But my favorite is probably the Cubano. In fact, there are no bad choices. Tennessee Jed’s also does some serious breakfast sandwiches.

If you’re in Gatlinburg and the line at the Pancake Pantry is too long, walk across the street and grab a coffee and a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich from Jed’s. And go ahead and try the brown butter mini cake for dessert. 

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

Three Jimmy's in Gatlinburg TN
Three Jimmy’s is a favorite for locals and is not too far off the strip (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

3. Three Jimmy’s Good Time Eatery

That’s a lot of Jimmy’s. I like any place that’s not afraid to put Good Time right there in the title. And Three Jimmy’s is certainly one of the best local places for a Good Time … in the culinary sense.

The menu is loaded with comfort food favorites like chicken pot pie, open-face roast beef and a variety of barbecue and grilled items. The pizzas and sandwiches are also worth the drive off the strip.

Located at 1359 East Parkway in Gatlinburg, it’s probably a bit of a stretch to call Three Jimmy’s a true hole in the wall place. But it is behind a Family Dollar so we will allow it.

Estrella Hondumex in Gatlinburg
Estrella Hondumex is a bit more off the main strip in Gatlinburg, but worth the detour (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

2. Estrella Hondumex

This Mexican-Honduran restaurant is located at 109 Roaring Fork Road in the back of a Hispanic grocery.

Estrella Hondumex is one of the most unique restaurants and dining experiences in Gatlinburg. It has amazing food and stands so far apart from pretenders like No Way Jose’s, it’s like they’re not even in the same business.

This is a true hidden gem, a true hole in the wall and you should definitely plan to stop in on your next trip to explore Gatlinburg restaurants. It may not be among the most popular places, but it’s just about the only place in town where you can have this type of Mexican food experience.

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

1. Delauder’s BBQ

Barbecue joints are meant to be holes in the wall.

Sure, you’ve got a couple of high-enders like Calhoun’s which has built an empire on smoked meat. But by and large, the best barbecue you will ever have in your life comes from places that invest in smokers and meat, not decorations and seats. This may well be some of the best BBQ you will ever eat.

What do I love most about Delauder’s, aside from everything on the menu?

The first thing mentioned on their web menu is that they ain’t gonna do bulk orders. Oh, you want to pay us a lot of money for a huge order? Nah. That ain’t us.

Come in here and get a sammich, some slaw and maybe a brisket and get the hell out of the way. We got real people to serve.

Listen, you want an authentic Tennessee experience to go back and tell your friends at home? Go to Delauder’s, get the Holy Bologna Sandwich or the Sneaky Pig with sweet habanero sauce and thank me later.

Some people think good barbeque is all about pork sandwiches. But at Delauder’s, it’s about so much more.

Delauder’s is located at 1875 East Parkway in Gatlinburg.

Do you have a favorite hole in the wall restaurant in Gatlinburg? Let us know in the comments!

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Disclaimer: While we do our best to bring you the most up-to-date information, attractions or prices mentioned in this article may vary by season and are subject to change. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any mentioned business, and have not been reviewed or endorsed these entities. Contact us at info@thesmokies.com for questions or comments.

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6 thoughts on “Best hole in the wall restaurants in Gatlinburg, our top 5 ranked”

  1. Parton’s Deli on the parkway has the best chili slaw hot dog I have ever had. We go there twice on every trip. Their Deli sandwiches are very good too.

  2. Hot Diggity Dog should be in the top 3 – a true “hole in the wall” find!

  3. Carvers apple shed in Cosby. It’s just a short drive from Gatlinburg. I have ate there many times and had always been great food and service. They share a barn with the produce market where you can pick your fresh fruit and vegetables. Don’t pass up the opportunity to buy the best apple butter you have ever ate.

  4. Dude missed preachers smokehouse . One of the best out there. Great portions and great price. Pitman center road .

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