The most challenging part of a Pigeon Forge vacation may well be picking a place to eat.
Certainly, there are options and options and options.
It can be hard deciding what to have on a Wednesday night at home. So of course, deciding what to eat on the road is that much more difficult.
Do we want to be daring? Or do we want to play it safe? Do we want dinner and an experience? Maybe we want something specific, like some delicious brisket and coleslaw.
At any rate, we’re going to tackle the top 25 places to eat in Pigeon Forge and see if we can help you out.
A few ground rules. First, we’re going to try and avoid most of the basic chains.
What’s a basic chain? A chain that’s likely located in your hometown. There are tourism chains like Hard Rock or Dick’s Last Resort that aren’t available in every town. Those are fair game.
But if you want McDonald’s? You don’t need me to tell you where to grab fast food.
Second, we’re going to factor in experiences. In other words, you’re on vacation, the experience is part of it.
To illustrate, would I recommend Frizzle Chicken’s Farmhouse if it didn’t have animatronic singing chickens? It’s a riddle the world may never solve.
Third, dinner shows are out. For example, some people swear by the chicken at Dolly’s Stampede. Personally, I’ve never been that comfortable eating in the general vicinity of defecating horses.
And finally, all things are relative. Is a pancake house really better than a steakhouse? Not by traditional accounting, but if you’re looking for breakfast, do you want pancakes or filet?
Yeah filet, but those places aren’t usually open in the morning and you can’t have a cowboy ribeye every night of the week and expect to live.
Now, on to the show. Here are some of the best restaurants in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee:
25. Reagan’s House of Pancakes
Sure, there are a lot of breakfast places and a lot of pancake places all over Pigeon Forge. But Reagan’s is good enough that they opened a second location about 25 feet from the first.
Lewis Black has a bit about someone opening a Starbucks across the street from another Starbucks. This is like that but with good pancakes.
I don’t know how anyone could rank all of the pancake places in town, but I think if a place is good enough to open a second location within 100 yards or so, they must be doing something right.
As a bonus, it’s also a budget-friendly restaurant.
24. Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen
Some people love eating at Paula Deen’s. Admittedly, they know how to make a really good biscuit.
Overall, it’s pretty good food and one of the most popular restaurants among visitors.
With locals? Not quite as much.
You see, Paula Deen is a Georgian. The food is Southern style, it’s just different than some East Tennessee Southern cooking.
Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, family style.
Calhoun’s is classic barbecue done perfectly.
This East TN powerhouse offers consistent high-quality food. And it’s a Southern barbecue dining experience that the whole family can enjoy.
22. Pigeon Forge Deli
Pigeon Forge Deli is located on E. Wears Valley Road, in the corner of two buildings.
You won’t just happen upon it, but it’s a delicious place to have lunch. They offer handcrafted sandwiches on homemade white, pretzel dough and rye and wheat sub rolls.
Try the house-made pimento cheese BLT and thank us later.
The restaurant is currently closed on Sundays.
21. Bullfish Grill
Sure, it’s a chain but it’s not a restaurant you’re going to see in just any town.
For many, Bullfish Grill is a rare treat.
They specialize in shrimp and seafood.
Seafood selections include fried shrimp, seared ahi tuna and Blackened Tilapia Orleans.
You can’t go wrong with anything you order. It’s consistently good food.
20. Junction 35
Junction 35 is a distillery with a kitchen and bar that specializes in handcrafted cocktails, slow-cooked BBQ and farm-raised burgers.
It’s a delicious spot to grab a bite to eat, conveniently located in the Tower Shops at the Mountain Mile.
Junction 35 is also the winner of the TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice Award in 2021.
19. Gaucho Urbano: Brazilian Steakhouse
Bring me your finest meats, your most delicious steaks and be quick about it.
I love a Brazilian Steakhouse.
A variety of all-you-can-eat meats brought to your table on skewers? Yes, please.
However, also be sure to check out the salad bar too. It may seem like you don’t want to waste precious space with salad, but if they had a vegetarian night, I could go just for the salad bar.
18 . The Hard Rock Café
I’m a child of the late 80s and early 90s when Hard Rock was cool. I cannot make that argument today.
The Hard Rock is conveniently located in the heart of Pigeon Forge along the strip.
It may be a bit overpriced, but would I rather eat a juicy burger at O’Charley’s or some other place surrounded by unoffending fake regional artwork or at the Hard Rock next to some pants Pete Townsend wore in 1978?
That’s the easiest decision I’ve ever made.
17. Big Daddy’s Pizzeria
At Big Daddy’s Pizzeria, they are so committed to freshness, there ain’t a freezer in the place.
If you’ve never eaten at a brick oven pizzeria, it is certainly different from your average pie.
You’re familiar with pizza’s work and in all likelihood, you’re a fan.
Big Daddy’s has some fun options. I do like alternative pizzas, so the Big Kahuna with pineapple, Canadian bacon and a goat cheese mozzarella-provolone blend is good.
The Pigeon Forge location also features an arcade.
Speaking of good pizza …
16. Mellow Mushroom
There’s a good chance that one night you’re going to want to keep it simple. And Mellow Mushroom is, in fact, the best in town.
Even though it’s a chain restaurant, it’s still one of my favorite places to get a good pizza.
15. Harpoon Harry’s Crab House
A dual concept by restaurant people out of Florida, Harpoon Harry’s offers a change of pace from Southern fare. They offer a traditional crab house menu but with the added bonus of a quality sushi bar.
Generally considered the best sushi in Pigeon Forge, Harpoon Harry’s offers a delightful change of pace from fried chicken and pancakes.
14. Huck Finn’s Catfish
OK. Maybe you want a traditional Southern twist on seafood entrees.
Something between Mama’s and Harpoon Harry’s. In that case, Huck Finn’s Catfish is the place for you.
13. Alamo Steakhouse
There are several good steakhouses in Pigeon Forge.
In fact, there are several legitimate arguments that Alamo Steakhouse should be first.
I feel a little bad ranking them here, but I don’t mean it as an insult. This is one of the best steaks you can get in the Smokies, cooked to perfection.
12. Smoky Mountain Brewery
You can never go wrong with the idea of beer and pizza, hand in hand.
Smoky Mountain Brewery has traditional pub food, including fries, fried pickles, burgers, sandwiches and subs. They also have live music on select nights.
The Pigeon Forge location is next door to Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Feud.
11. Frizzle’s Chicken Farmhouse
Look. Here on the screen – on stark black and white – this just looks silly.
Is Frizzle’s Chicken Farmhouse really a better restaurant than Alamo Steakhouse?
Well, let me answer that question with a question: Does Alamo offer tasty breakfast fare and animatronic chickens who serenade by clucking Frozen’s “Let It Go?” I didn’t think so.
Listen, I’m a 47-year-old father of three, the days of chemically expanding my mind are gone.
In other words, sometimes you have to chase the dragon in the real world, you know? In this case, the dragon showed up flanked by a mechanical chicken named Hens Solo and Princess Lay-a.
As an added bonus, they offer great prices and it’s one of the more affordable places to eat on our list.
10. Timberwood Grill
The Timberwood Grill is located within The Island in Pigeon Forge.
The restaurant specializes in authentic mountain dining with soups, salads, burgers, sandwiches, steak, chicken and ribs.
It’s nothing fancy. It’s nothing pretentious. But it’s the best dining option on the Island. Adults can eat for between $15 and $30.
9. Cielito Lindo
Pigeon Forge has surprisingly few Mexican options.
Almost every place has some kind of Mexican something or other on the menu, but it’s almost always an aside.
If you want Smoky Mountain TexMex style authenticity, try Cielito Lindo.
8. Brick & Spoon
It’s hard to mess up breakfast foods. Sausage, egg, bacon. All delicious.
But Brick & Spoon is a step above. A breakfast, lunch and brunch spot that’s growing quickly across the South, the Brick & Spoon is an upscale Southern breakfast experience.
Try the stuffed French Toast Sliders or the Crab Cake Benny.
In my experience, they also have great service.
7. Puckett’s Grocery
The best food served with style. Puckett’s roots reach back to the 1950s and a little grocery store at Leiper’s Fork in Middle Tennessee.
Purchased by a man named Andy Marshall in the 1990s, the grocery store turned into a foodie haven. Since then, Marshall Hospitality has opened five other local restaurants.
In Pigeon Forge, the menu is heavy on artisanal takes on Southern classics. And in fact, they are all good.
Your taste buds will thank you.
6. Blue Moose Burgers
Blue Moose Burgers & Wings bills itself as Pigeon Forge’s only family sports grill and the best-kept secret by local residents since 2007.
However, that secret is getting out. Blue Moose is growing in popularity and for good reason. It’s affordable, it has good food and good service.
It’s located in one of those rare semi-hidden pockets of Pigeon Forge where it’s not exactly on the beaten path. But it’s also not exactly off the beaten path either.
They are famous for their award-winning Jumbo Chicken Wings, Angus Beef Burgers and dozens of flat-screen televisions and craft beer.
5. The Local Goat
The Local Goat is one of the more popular restaurants in Pigeon Forge, which means it can sometimes be difficult to get a table.
As one of the top Pigeon Forge restaurants, they feature a scratch kitchen with locally-sourced menu items.
4. Lil Black Bear Café
A teeny, tiny breakfast and lunch spot located on Veterans Parkway, the Lil Black Bear Café isn’t going to wow you with menu options. It’s a basic breakfast, a basic lunch but it’s done to perfection.
Do you want something memorable from your vacation? The Lil Black Bear Café is memorable for all the right reasons.
The menu features reasonable prices and it’s a great place to eat.
But be warned, wait times often reach up to two hours in the busy season. And this restaurant, like many in the area, does not take reservations.
3. Mama’s Farmhouse
If you’re going to come to the mountains, you might as well try some good Southern cooking.
It’s family-style but nothing terribly fancy. The flavors are that of a traditional home-cooked meal.
And as a member of the Johnson Family of Restaurants, it’s a good option if you want a certain style of meal while you’re on vacation.
2. Old Mill Pottery House Cafe
The Pottery House Cafe is within the historic Old Mill District.
The home used to belong to a local potter. The bread is baked fresh daily and the menu has lunch, dinner and weekend brunch.
1. The Old Mill Restaurant
Located nearby the Pottery House along Old Mill Ave, The Old Mill Restaurant is precisely what you’d expect from an Old Mill Restaurant. It’s delicious food and country cooking done well.
With a wide variety of Southern favorites, there’s something here for the entire family.
The menu features a variety of chicken, ham, meatloaf, pork and barbecue.
And most entrees are served with a side of green beans and mashed potatoes.
The biscuits melt in your mouth. The Country Fried Chicken – with gravy of course – is cooked to perfection.
And the chicken and dumpling platter is a dish you won’t soon forget.
But be warned, this incredible restaurant isn’t exactly a local secret. Expect at least a 30-minute to 1-hour wait even in the slow season. In the busy season, wait times could be even greater. And they do not accept reservations.
What are your top restaurants when you visit Pigeon Forge TN? Let us know in the comments.