I find that people have really strong opinions about Paula Deen’s restaurant in Pigeon Forge. Some people really, really love it.
Others … not so much.
First of all, you could say that this restaurant is one that might feel out of place in the area. After all, Deen is a Georgian at heart. But her family-style restaurant is one of the more unique dining experiences in the Smoky Mountains area.
When I visited, I took my mom to eat at Paula Deen’s for a Sunday lunch and only had to wait about 15 minutes.
That being said, if you show up for dinner during the busy season, I have heard the wait times can be somewhere in the neighborhood of about three hours.
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Do you need reservations at Paula Deen’s restaurant in Pigeon Forge?
Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen in Pigeon Forge does not accept reservations.
During the busy season, remember that you’ll want to put your names down as soon as possible. You can always explore The Island a bit while you wait.
Since our wait was short, I spent a few minutes shopping around the Paula Deen store on the first floor, which is full of Southern memorabilia and cookbooks with Deen family recipes and other retail items.
When our table was ready, we went up the escalator to wait in another line and checked in at a desk.
Then we waited in a third line for our party to be called.
It sort of feels like waiting for a ride at an amusement park — the kind where you think you’re about to get on, but instead, around the corner, you find another section of line.
It’s quite the operation for a restaurant. But for the most part, it moves pretty smoothly.
The most important thing to know about this restaurant is that it features family-style dining, which means everyone at your table must agree on the main entrees and sides.
This way, I suppose, it feels more like home cooking.
For lunch and dinner, there are three main choices, The Albany, The Savannah and The Georgia – which is a fancy way of saying you can pick two, three or four entrees from the menu, respectively.
Is Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen worth the price?
To be honest, I wasn’t completely blown away by the food, but it’s not all bad.
One of my favorite things about the restaurant is its location. Depending on your seat, you have a good chance of having a great view of The Island in Pigeon Forge or perhaps even the fountain show.
Another bonus is that the food has unlimited helpings. Just note that you can’t take them home with you at the end of your meal.
And as a lovely final touch, everyone gets to pick their own dessert.
Perhaps my absolute favorite thing about dining here was the complimentary biscuits. Those delicious, flaky biscuits alone are worth a return trip.
Okay, so what’s the bad news?
Well, just about every restaurant has its cons list and this one is no exception.
Personally, I find that the family-style spread doesn’t necessarily feel super practical.
If someone in your party has food allergies or dietary restrictions, it can be difficult to find something that can work for everyone. And in case you’re wondering, kids don’t get their own special menu items, either.
I understand that we’re supposed to feel like we’re gathered around for a traditional meal at home, but I find customization one of the main perks of eating out.
Also, most of the food is just OK. For example, I really enjoyed my order of Georgia Fried Catfish.
But we also ordered Chicken and Dumplings. I didn’t try them because I have an allergy to peanuts and we were told that the chicken from the Chicken and Dumplings is the same as the Best Ever Southern Fried Chicken, which is fried in peanut oil.
And look, maybe that waitress was mistaken. But if that’s true, even I know that traditional, Southern chicken and dumplings are not made with fried chicken.
But even without this interesting bit of info from our waitress, my mama was not a fan of that entree. She said it did not taste authentic. Or, at least not authentic for Tennessee.
What are the best sides at the Paula Deen restaurant?
From Paula’s famous sides, I recommend creamed potatoes, creamed corn or baked mac and cheese. Those were the most delicious side dishes to me.
We also tried the broccoli casserole and I found it to be just okay.
If you want something classic, try the poppyseed tossed salad, green beans or fried okra. Or if you want something more simple, you could go with the buttered white rice.
What else is on the menu at Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen?
I haven’t visited Paula Deen’s for breakfast yet, but considering how good the biscuits are, I am willing to bet it’s good.
The breakfast menu lets you pick three Down Home Dishes, one breakfast meat and then two breakfast treats. The main dishes include options like Chicken and Biscuits, Sweet Piggies in a Blanket, Ooey Gooey Butter Pancakes and Apple Cinnamon French Toast.
The breakfast meats include black pepper bacon, country ham, sausage links and Applewood smoked center cut bacon.
Finally, the treats include hashbrowns casserole, fried potatoes, sausage and gravy, cheesy grits and fresh fruit.
The lunch menu is the same as the dinner menu.
You’ll find classic dishes including some options we already talked about and Beef Pot Roast, Chicken-Fried Pork Chop, Spare Ribs and Roasted Chicken.
How much does it cost to eat at Paula Deen’s?
Breakfast is the most affordable meal at $16.99 per person.
For lunch, the pick-2, or The Albany, starts at $19.99 per person and the pick-3 is $21.99 per person. The pick-4 entree is $23.99 per person.
The dinner menu is the same, except you can expect to add about $5 per option.
Kids aged 3-5 can dine for $4.99 while kids 6-10 can dine for $11.99 for both lunch and dinner at the time of this writing.
Does it cost to get into The Island in Pigeon Forge?
Nope, it’s free! Visitors at The Island will find that there is no cost to ride the tram, park or enter The Island.
However, once you enter, you’ll likely be tempted to pull out your wallet to dine and shop.
Still, it’s the perfect spot to get around and explore a bit.
What restaurants are in The Island at Pigeon Forge?
Dining options other than Paula Deen’s at The Island include Dick’s Last Resort, Mellow Mushroom and Timberwood Grill.
If you’re interested in trying Paula Deen’s restaurant, remember to plan ahead. Overall, it’s a good option if you enjoy family-style dining and know what to order.
The restaurant’s classic Deen family recipes were birthed from the same recipes that launched Paula Deen’s career.
Every Southern-style entree, side dish and dessert comes from Paula’s cookbooks.
Paula Deen has even been spotted visiting this location on The Island to greet guests and train kitchen staff.
The restaurant is located at 131 The Island Dr #8101, Pigeon Forge, TN.
You can view the full dinner menu here.
Have you tried Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen on a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains? What did you think? Let us know in the comments.