We begin with a quick tangent.
The Local Goat serves fried green tomatoes. They are cornmeal battered with goat cheese, bacon jam and caramelized onions, and they are truly wonderful.
The Local Goat – which celebrates everything local – is proud to declare they use Grainger County tomatoes.
Grainger. County. Tomatoes.
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What are Grainger County tomatoes?
If you don’t know, Grainger County has the reputation of providing Tennessee’s best tomatoes. In fact, some say they are the best tomatoes in the South and many say the best tomatoes in the country.
Each year, Bean Station, named after a man and not the magical fruit, hosts the Grainger County Tomato Festival. There’s a concert. They sell tomatoes. Also, there are tomato wars where teams of people line up to launch semi-spoiled tomatoes at each other, sometimes at alarming speeds.
My mom lives in Grainger County. We live only a few minutes away. Therefore, I should be proud that my adopted region is famous for what may be the world’s best savory fruit.
However, I spent my formative years in Indiana.
In school, we learned how the glaciers came down from the north during the Ice age, redistributing massive amounts of topsoil and making Indiana farmland especially fertile.
Nanny and Papaw had a large garden with corn and tomatoes and cucumbers and strawberries in the early spring.
In the summers, we’d be out playing by the creek or running around the property. Frequently, we’d swing by the garden to pick produce to eat on the spot.
Certainly, it was fantastic but nothing compared to Papaw’s friends Jim and Wanda. Jim was an artist who worked exclusively in fruits and vegetables. I’ve never heard someone more intelligent or more passionate about the vagaries of farming than Jim.
He grew the world’s best tomatoes.
Are Grainger County tomatoes really the best?
I love many things about my adopted Volunteer home. I’ve lived in Tennessee now for more than double, maybe triple the years I lived in Indiana. But my indoctrination was deep.
I will sing the praises of the mountains and Tennessee barbecue, football, sweet tea and much more.
But Grainger County tomatoes? I’ve had better.
Still, the Local Goat ain’t local marketing Mitchell, Indiana tomatoes. So I get it.
Anyway, the salads are great and so is just about everything else they offer.
What type of restaurant is the Local Goat?
The Local Goat bills itself as a New American restaurant. But I confess I don’t have a clear understanding of what that means.
It’s a great place to eat – if you can get in the parking lot. In fact, there are days I think it may be Pigeon Forge’s best restaurant. At least, it’s one of the best places to eat in the Smoky Mountains.
I guess the best way I can describe it is if you took the concept behind a craft beer and applied it to food. Specifically, it’s craft food.
Everything from the burgers and steaks to the seafood is done with a certain level of artistry, a certain flair. Traditional American foods are presented in classic ways with modern twists that take them beyond what you’d find in a chain restaurant.
In fact, they’re not afraid to offer challenging menu items from cheese fondue to deep-fried deviled eggs to an Elvis burger with peanut butter.
It’s the perfect place to go if you want to try something familiar but with a little more flavor.
Why is it called the Local Goat?
Because they put the local in Local.
For example, the scratch-made kitchen specializes in locally sourced foods. In fact, everything on the sustainable menu is made fresh daily, including the bread and even the ketchup.
The bar specializes in local craft breweries, craft cocktails and fine wines. The dining room? It’s adorned with the work of local artists. When they say Local Goat, they mean it.
When did the Local Goat open?
In Pigeon Forge? 2016.
There’s another location in Ootelwah that opened a few years later – which is down near Chattanooga.
What’s good at the Local Goat?
The easy answer is everything.
During our most recent visit, Sofia tried the double-glazed Bison Meatloaf. The loaf features a rich demi-glace, crispy onions and caramelized onion mashed potatoes. And she raved over it. My teenager has begun to expand her palette, but I was surprised to see her tackle buffalo. So that was a big win.
My wife Leslie wanted to try one of the gourmet burgers made with locally sourced beef and was sorely tempted by The Elvis. But ultimately, she didn’t go there.
Instead, she had the Pimento Cheese Cheeseburger with pimento cheese, bacon jam and sautéed onions.
Other burger options include The Farmhouse with American cheese, fried egg, smoked bacon and garlic aioli. The Smokehouse has smoked gouda cheese, BBQ sauce, caramelized onions and smoked bacon.
Also, the Bacon Cheeseburger has aged cheddar cheese and smoked bacon. The Lamb Burger is served with tzatziki sauce, feta cheese, red onion and spring mix.
And the more basic Patriot has a choice of either American, Swiss cheese, pepper jack cheese, provolone cheese or cheddar. All come with hand-cut French fries.
Chicken and portobello mushroom sandwiches are on the menu as well.
How are the burgers at the Local Goat?
I think the case could be made that the Local Goat has the best burger in the region, but it’s probably more accurate to say among the best burgers.
Other favorites include Bronzed Ahi Tuna Steak with mango salsa, sautéed spinach and caramelized onion mashed potatoes.
The 10 oz Boneless Pork Chops are marinated and center-cut served with sautéed apples and onions, whipped sweet potatoes and steamed broccoli.
And the Shrimp & Grits feature jumbo Gulf shrimp, bacon, spinach, mushrooms, caramelized onions, stone-ground cheese grits and sriracha.
Also on the menu are ribs and jumbo wings with a choice of sauces.
On our recent trip, I went with the Hawaiian Ribeye, a soy-ginger pineapple marinated 14 oz ribeye. I’m a sucker for Hawaiian marinated meat. Other steak options include a 10 oz hand-cut sirloin and flame-grilled ribeye.
On the kid’s menu, my 7-year-old Ainsley raved about the grilled cheese and ate a massive portion of the fries.
Honestly, I could rave about most of the menu items, including the outstanding desserts. My favorite is the Crème Brûlée served with seasonal berries.
I also had a Bloody Mary that had a little more kick from a spicy standpoint than I’m used to, but it was really good.
Do you have to have reservations for the Local Goat?
Have to? Probably not.
But that parking lot always seems like it’s full, man. I think I’d much rather have reservations than try to pull up on the place cold.
Parties with over ten people need to call the restaurant.
Does Local Goat do to-go orders?
They do not. There’s a cute answer on the website about how they want you to have the best dining experience and the food doesn’t like small boxes.
However, I suspect it’s chiefly to do with that parking lot. It’s always full and it’s not especially conducive to a lot of traffic.
We had to back up a couple of rows downhill just to make room for someone who we thought was leaving. Instead, he took the spot we were waiting on.
Is Local Goat worth it?
Yeah. In many ways, the Pigeon Forge craft dining scene is falling behind Gatlinburg and Sevierville, but the Local Goat is standing tall for Pigeon Forge.
Have you tried the Local Goat? What did you order? Let us know in the comments!