A Local’s Review of Loco Burro in Gatlinburg, TN

loco burro in gatlinburg

Loco Burro is located along the main strip in Gatlinburg (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

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Kennedy Concepts restaurants thrive on the experience. 

In fact, I know because that’s what their PR team wrote in the “about” section of their website. 

Thrive is an excellent word. It sounds so good. 

Places like the Loco Burro Fresh Mex Cantina and sister restaurants Johnny Rockets and Crawdaddy’s are dedicated to going beyond filling bellies to “create memorable experiences” for each and every guest.

But what does that mean? 


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What is it like to eat at the Loco Burro?

At Loco Burro, it’s true that you can expect a fun experience. This means drinking “margs” and listening to live music from the rooftop patio.

It means getting to ride a mechanical donkey and hosting special events.

It also means that when you open the menu, you’ll see a bean burrito called El Paso Gaso. And online, you will find rave reviews by people named Stephanie and Heather and … well, John. 

In other words, they’ve been selling the tourists what they want for generations. It’s a great deal for everyone. The restaurant gets tourist dollars and tourists get to have experiences they can’t get at home.

Read Also: Gatlinburg Bachelorette Party: 8 Best Ideas for Your Night Out [2023]

street corn from loco burro in gatlinburg
The Mexican Street Corn features sweet grilled sweet corn with garlic, seasoning and cotija cheese (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Is the food at Loco Burro authentic?

Authenticity? Look around Pigeon Forge. There’s a pirate show, a mini Titanic replica and a madcap musical comedy celebrating the West Virginia feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys.

Authenticity is not what we’re selling. But nobody comes to Sevier County for authentic Mexican food or for authenticity in any form, really. That’s not what we do here.

You come here on vacation for fun. Specifically, for exactly the kind of experiences Kennedy Concept restaurants offer, and they’re good at it

So I’m not here to tell you that the Loco Burro will be the most authentic Mexican food you’ve ever had. But it will be good food, and you will have fun while you’re there.

nachos from loco burro in gatlinburg
The nachos are served with beans, queso, lettuce and guac (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Is the Loco Burro in Gatlinburg worth it?

Honestly, yes. I like all of the fun things the restaurant offers and I really like the Loco Burro. It’s a great place to have a good time.

The only thing I don’t like, I suppose, is the idea that I can be so cravenly marketed to. 

I want to be more than a guest seeking an experience. 

So if you’re looking for traditional Mexican restaurants, there are other places you can go where they don’t tout their Mexican cheese blend quite so aggressively. 

There are places where they serve Asada tacos with cilantro lime and onion and lime and salsa verde on corn tortillas, where nobody ever asks if you’d prefer the fresh flour tortillas. 

But you come to the Loco Burro for the experience and the rooftop bar and have to a good time, particularly because it’s fun to have a drink and watch the people buzzing about below.

Loco Burro in Gatlinburg
The Loco Burro is well-known for its food challenge (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Does the Loco Burro have a food challenge?

The Loco Burro also has one of the most famous local food challenges in the mountains.

It’s called The Whole 5lb Chihuahua. The burrito is 5 lbs, and it’s made with fresh-Mex rice, refried beans, black beans and seasoned beef.

It’s topped with cilantro, sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo, lettuce, tomatoes and chili con carne. It also has that Mexican cheese blend.

The prize for eating that massive burrito by yourself within 30 minutes is a free ride on the mechanical burro. It seems like an incredibly bad prize considering what you had to do to win it.

Instead of a free mechanical burro ride, you can choose a free beer. But that also seems like something you wouldn’t want to deal with having just consumed 5 lbs of Tex-Mex within 30 minutes. 

Read Also: 3 Gatlinburg Food Challenges: Here’s What You Have To Eat To Compete

enchiladas with rice and beans
The chicken enchiladas from Loco Burro are served with rice and beans (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

What should you order at the Loco Burro?


Like most restaurants, the dining experience comes with chips and salsa.

The street corn is also good. It has mesquite grilled, seasoned sweet corn with garlic aioli, ancho chili spice and cotija cheese.

Also be sure to get the Tableside Guac, house-made guacamole that is made tableside.

Finally, I also like La Fiesta Sampler, which has seasoned beef nachos, chicken quesadillas, chicken taquitos, guacamole and queso blanco.

Main courses

The Famous Fajitas are also good. You can get chicken, steak, grilled shrimp or veggie.

The veggie option has portobello mushrooms, tomatoes, charred sweet peppers, onion, roasted seasonal vegetables and is served with corn tortillas, arroz verde and black beans.

Although, I think they’re actually not significantly different than the fajitas you can get at any of a dozen other restaurants in the area. The Plato Fiesta serves 2-3 people.

Alternatively, you might choose from a variety of great enchiladas, which can come with seafood, cheese, seasoned beef, shredded chicken, beef brisket or a combination.

Chimichangas have deep-fried flour tortillas stuffed with a Mexican cheese blend and choice of filling, served with guacamole, pico de gallo, cilantro, sour cream, jalapenos, fresh-mex rice and refried beans.

I’m not sure that I recommend ordering a salad at a Mexican restaurant, but if you came for a salad, the Ensalada de Casa has fresh greens, corn, black beans, tomatoes, onion, avocado, cucumbers, smoked bacon, cheese, pepitas and your choice of dressing.

Mechanical donkey at Loco Burro
The Loco Burro has a mechanical donkey inside the restaurant (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)


You may also come for the most authentic thing in the house, the Mexican soda. The Coca-Cola is made with real sugar. They also have Jarritos Soda in strawberry, mandarin or pineapple. 

There are also a vast variety of tequilas and a selection of margaritas that come in single drinks or by the pitcher. They also have wine and cerveza and mojitos and sangria.

And they have an escalator so you don’t have to navigate multiple flights of stairs after trying the cervezas and “ritas” and sangrias.


For dessert, get the Churros and Fried Ice Cream, which features fried churro sticks rolled in cinnamon and topped with flash-fried vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, whipped cream and a strawberry. 

It’s all good. 

Read Also: These Are the Best Mexican Restaurants Near Gatlinburg, Our Top 4 Ranked

The view from the dining area at Loco Burro
You could order takeout from Loco Burro, but you would be missing out on views like this in the heart of downtown Gatlinburg (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Does Loco Burro offer take-out?

They do have to-go orders. But unless you’re staying in a hotel within walking distance, downtown Gatlinburg may be the least practical place for to-go orders in the world. 

In other words, It’s all part of the experience. 

And that is why you came. 

Loco Burro also has a location in West Knoxville. The Gatlinburg location is along the main strip at 735 Parkway #1.

Have you been to the Loco Burro in Gatlinburg, TN? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!

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John Gullion

John Gullion, Managing Editor at the Citizen Tribune, is a freelance contributor for TheSmokies.com LLC – the parent company of TheSmokies.com and HeyOrlando.com.

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