A Surprising Comparison of the Two Best Steakhouses in the Smoky Mountains

alamo steakhouse with image of steak in corner

Above: The Alamo steakhouse exterior with an image of steak from The Peddler. These two steakhouses are Gatlinburg institutions (photos by Bill Burris and Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Local breaks down The Peddler vs the Alamo in Gatlinburg, TN

It’s steak night in the Great Smoky Mountains. In one corner, you’ve got The Peddler: A popular dining destination in Gatlinburg. Housed in the former home of Charles “Earl” Ogle Sr., a fourth-generation Gatlinburg merchant, The Peddler is directly and deeply connected to Gatlinburg royalty. In the other corner, Alamo Steakhouse: A Sevier County institution with locations in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge and part of the Johnson Family of Restaurants. While I love the steak at both establishments, allow me to compare these two local favorites side by side and see how they stack up in four important categories: History, name, menu and most importantly – steak.

The Peddler and the Alamo are two famous steakhouses in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. As a local, I’ve eaten at both establishments multiple times. Of course, which one is better might come down to personal preference, but here I take a look at the history, quality of the menu and my experience with the quality of steak I have ordered. Overall, I tend to prefer the Peddler. Still, both are generally a great choice when you’re dining out in Gatlinburg.

1. Comparing the history

What’s a night out with a little “did you know” table talk?

The Peddler

According to The Peddler’s website, the Tennessee franchisee Steaks Sophisticated, Inc. acquired the location, renovated it and opened it as a restaurant in 1976. In June 1978, Geoffrey Wolpert came to work at The Peddler Steakhouse in Gatlinburg as a management trainee. He became the general manager in January 1979 and acquired the popular eatery in 1985. Since then, he has expanded its services and continues to maintain its consistently unique quality. He opened The Park Grill, his second restaurant in Gatlinburg in July 1995.

Since then, the Peddler Steakhouse has established a long-standing tradition of top-quality food, service and atmosphere. People will certainly go out of their way to return often and tell their friends not to miss it.

Alamo Steakhouse

The Alamo is owned by the Johnson Family of Restaurants. Since the opening of their first area restaurant in 1991, Bennett’s Pit BBQ, their family has grown to many unique concepts throughout Pigeon Forge, Sevierville and Gatlinburg. While popular, The Alamo legacy just isn’t quite as rich as The Peddler’s.

So in a battle this historic, The Peddler wins.

2. A look at their names

Which steakhouse bears the most iconic branding?

The Peddler steakhouse
The Peddler Steakhouse in Gatlinburg TN is a renovated cabin turned restaurant (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

The Peddler

On the surface, The Peddler is objectively a terrible name for a steakhouse. However, The Peddler was built in the former home of an Ogle, whose great-grandfather established the city’s first grocery store in 1850. In the intervening years, the Ogle family passed down the landmark mercantile location from generation to generation. These people were merchants – aka peddlers. Now, the restaurant is located in an old family home built in 1958.

the alamo steakhouse in gatlinburg tn
There’s a surprising correlation between the Smoky Mountains and “The Alamo” (photo by Bill Burris/TheSmokies.com)

Alamo Steakhouse

Look, it’s a name you’re destined to remember. And while on the surface the connection to Sevier County and the San Antonio landmark is scarce, we don’t settle for on-the-surface. What’s that I hear? Is that David Crockett’s music? It is. The King of the Wild Frontier, an East Tennessee legend who went down with the Alamo while defending it. On the one hand, thinking of Davy Crockett’s demise could put a damper on date night. On the other hand, I’ve been singing about Davy Crockett since I was three years old. 

In an upset, Alamo Steakhouse wins this round.

3. Comparing the overall menu

the peddler salad
The Peddler is well-known for its salad bar (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

The Peddler

I live life by a few simple rules. The first? If you go to a steakhouse, get the steak. I understand that other people lead divergent lifestyles. So steakhouses must offer non-steak options. That being said, I like The Peddler menu. Not counting the wine list, it’s a single sheet, one-sided. Personally, I’m not interested in leafing through an encyclopedia of food. Give me a handful of apps, list the sides and let’s get to the steak, shall we? 

The Peddler appetizers are good, with a couple of cheese options, a couple of fried things and some seafood like oysters and shrimp cocktail. Classic, lovely. Non-steak entrée options include a couple of chicken options, a rainbow trout and grilled shrimp. Each of those is available in combinations in case you’d like a little steak on the side. There’s also that magnificent salad bar which is worth a shoutout.

potato skins with cheese and green onions from the alamo
Alamo’s “Texas Taters” feature hickory smoked bacon, shredded cheddar cheese and scallions (photo by Bill Burris/TheSmokies.com)

Alamo Steakhouse

Honestly, there’s a lot of menu real estate before you get to the meat. There’s a lot of space devoted to the salads, which is fine. I love a salad. I also like The Alamo’s appetizers, there’s a bit more variety.

But Alamo gets a bonus point for referring to a menu item as Texas Taters which allows me to do my Gollum impersonation to the waiter. Any waiter who replies with their best Samwise Gamgee, “Po-ta-toes. Boil ’em, mash ’em, stick ’em in a stew,” gets an extra $20 on the tip. The Alamo certainly offers a wider variety of non-steak items on the menu, salmon, stuffed shrimp, chicken, pork and even a vegetable plate. I can’t recommend them because, again, I don’t go to a steakhouse to skip the steak. But it’s there. There’s also a separate lunch menu with even more offerings including burgers, sandwiches and pork chops.

Surprising myself on this round, but I have to give it to The Alamo.

4. Most importantly, the steak

All right, friends now we’re down to our raison d’être. And like a television game show with a dubious scoring system to keep things interesting throughout the show, this category counts for more than all the others combined. I mean what’s the point of this particular exercise if the place with the best steak doesn’t win? 

A steak at the Peddler with sides
The Peddler is a Gatlinburg institution (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

The Peddler

This steakhouse comes closest to my dream of walking in and being handed a menu that says “steak” and that’s all. The four basic options include custom cut rib eye or New York strip, a filet or prime rib. But honestly, I’m not the biggest fan of The Peddler. They are good and they know it. And while I don’t want a restaurant that kisses up to me, the restaurant has given me the vibe before that they can take or leave my business. I get that it’s crowded and popular. The staff at times can get overwhelmed by the demand, but I am generally left with the impression that I am unnecessary to their continued success. All that being said, their steaks are fantastic and I am willing to take a slight amount of emotional abuse to eat there.

Alamo steakhouse steak and potato
For this author, Alamo’s hand-cut steaks come in at a close second (photo by Bill Burris/TheSmokies.com)

The Alamo

When it comes to seeak, variety is the word of the day. There’s a horseradish crusted filet, a peppercorn coated New York strip and a filet Oscar with asparagus, crabmeat and hollandaise sauce. I don’t know who this Oscar guy is, but there’s a certain level of opulence in your life if covering stuff in crab and hollandaise sauce gets named after you. There’s a T-bone, again fun to order George Costanza style, a rib eye, prime rib, New York strip and filet. There’s also a menu item called “The Steak” which is a 20-ounce bone-in rib eye that I really wish was the only item on the menu.

I don’t want to speak disparagingly of the Alamo’s steaks. The ones I’ve had have been great. I’ve never regretted ordering one. They’re fantastic. But in my opinion, they are a slight cut below The Peddler. Your experience may vary. It’s a statistical tie, but winning the final category carries the day. If you’re hungry for a steak in Sevier County, you can’t go wrong with either place.

However, The Peddler squeaks out a win at the wire.

Which steakhouse do you prefer? The Peddler or Alamo? Let me know in the comments below.

Have a question or comment about something in this article? Contact our staff here. You may also contact our editorial team at info@thesmokies.com.

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30 thoughts on “A Surprising Comparison of the Two Best Steakhouses in the Smoky Mountains”

  1. I am an all time Peddler fan! From the salad bar to the steak and baked potato to the fabulous dessert! Not to mention the atmosphere! It’s all amazing! We just got back from a week long stay in the Smoky Mountains and we could not get into the Peddlers so we went to the Alamo in pigeon forge. I have to say it was very good. I missed 5he amazing salad bar and truly missed the amazing chocolate cake from Peddlers. But the steak and side salad was very good along with the yummy baked potato!! But I do still prefer Peddlers for a date night with my hubby. Alamo was definitely more of a family style atmosphere!

    Reply
  2. My wife and I have spent a couple of weeks in Pigeon Forge and have eaten at the Alamo. Unfortunately we had the worst dinning experience there. We arrived all hungry and ready for steak. What happened was we were met from the start with a lot of fruit flies buzzing around. After ordering our meals we were bombarded by our flying visitors to the point I had to cover my wine with a napkin to prevent those little suckers from enjoying my wine. We asked several times if something could be done about those freeloaders to no avail. Finally we had enough and told the waitress to make our orders to go. My wife was very upset with the situation,and nobody from the waitress to the manager ever bothered to apologize or acknowledge our concerns. We sure won’t be going back there soon. Because of the travel time back to our cabin our steaks were on the cold side and not very appealing. We did check to make sure we didn’t have any extra protein in our meals.

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    • I agree ouf speaks were horrible my husband had the porterhouse I had the ny strip both terrible we live in cosby and won’t go back our favorite in cosby newport area is The Woodshed by far delicious steaks ribs and prime rib Thursday you can keep alamo nothing great about it

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  3. We can never get into the peddler. Once in awhile 8 o’clock might be open. To late for us seniors. The steaks are good. The salad bar fantastic.
    But we were able to get in at the Alamo. It was fantastic. You could cut the steak with with a fork.
    It was very clean and our service was the best we’ve ever had.
    Definitely be our favorite steakhouse when we’re in town.

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  4. The peddlers Great.
    Number one in my book. I remember when they was in Nashville.
    That’s where I I first ate at The peddler many many years ago just as good now as it was then.

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  5. The Peddler wins, hands down, at every level. Service A+, steaks A++++++ salad bar is best in the USA!

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  6. My favorite The Peddler the steak and salad bar top notch and love a window table looking at the water flowing over the rocks with the leaves changing color

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  7. Alamo use to be the best hands down. They had their own taste that was awsome. But now it’s hit or miss with them.For a 150.00 meal I want it to be consistent .More misses than hits to where I don’t care to go there any more. The Peddler seems to be good. Ate at just about all the steak house in Gatlinburg and most in Pigeon Forge none really seem to be home runs. One of the most tasty steaks I believe is Texas Road House. But we all have different taste buds. And they all probably have their good days and bad days as everything else in life. So eat up and enjoy where ever you maybe eating. And make sure to thank God for what ever it maybe. 😀👍

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  8. Absolutely the Alamo! Peddler is overrated and way too costly for the cut of steaks offered.
    Alamo, never disappoints.

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  9. I worked at Texas Roadhouse in Pigeon Forge years ago. I heard the same things from tourists over and over. “We ate at the Alamo/Peddler/Longhorn/insert overpriced steakhouse name here, and the steaks here are twice as good, the service is twice as good, and the food is half the price.

    Reply
  10. The Alamo is the BEST! Every year on our annual visit to Gatlinburg we go there for dinner at least 3 times. Their food can’t be beat. They have the best steak, baked potato, salad and rolls. Can’t wait til next year so I can visit the BEST restaurant in Gatlinburg.

    Reply
  11. Well, my wife and I ate at the Alamo in Gatlinburg 3 years ago. It had been highly reccomended. I was hungry and ordered the bone-in ribeye. It is absolutely the worst steak I have ever eaten. Without exaggeration, a little over half of the steak was gristle. It left a large pile on my plate. I am 70 years old now, and much wiser. I have also eaten a lot of steaks in my life, but I will never take another chance at that location. Perhaps it is better in Pigeon Forge because no steak will ever be worse.

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  12. If you can choke down the Alamo you can eat in a third world with no problem. That and the tiny seats they put you in! And how do you screw up tea?

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  13. My wife and I ate at the Alamo on our last trip to the mountains. Great service and atmosphere. But if you take away those attributes It is nothing special. We have had better steaks at Longhorn and Texas Roadhouse for half the money. All show no go.

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  14. We have eaten at Alamo in the past and weren’t really impressed with the steaks. On our last trip, in November 2023, I finally thought far enough in advance to make reservations at the Peddler, and we were not disappointed. Their salad bar isn’t as huge as I expected but it did have a good variety of different greens and all sorts of toppings, including smoked oysters. The salad dressing, made in house, was wonderful. I actually wanted to do a second round at the salad bar but decided against it because I wanted plenty of room for my filet (always my streak of choice). The steak did not disappoint. I think they actually mixed up our steaks. Hubby ordered his medium rare and I ordered medium, and that’s how they were cooked, the server just handed them to the wrong person. Regardless, we both agreed it was one of the best steaks ever. Next trip down we may try the Park Grill instead since it is also in the family and their menus are pretty much the same, but in mine and husband’s opinion, we agree – choose The Peddler!!!

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  15. As a local in Sevier County,I have only eaten at The Peddler 1 time in my 10 years living here and then it was a birthday gift from relatives.I have eaten at The Alamo numerous times and have Never gotten a bad meal.They have the absolute best filet I have even eaten and it is fork tender.The service is always great and the prices are affordable.

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  16. My Wife and I love the Peddler. The Prime Rib is the benchmark for all others. The salad bar is excellent as is the overall ambience. The only problem I have is finding a good parking spot. The Peddler is one of the reasons we vacation in the village of Gatlinburg.

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