I came to Puckett’s in Pigeon Forge in early March for the purposes of doing an official review. It was Friday the 13th ironically — right before everything closed down for the apocalypse.
I had no idea at the time that it would be one of my last dining experiences for months. Luckily, it was a good one.
The inside of Puckett’s has rustic-modern design. It’s soft, dim, woodsy and has a wall full of records, mostly those of Dolly Parton.
I was lucky enough to catch Billie Lafollette’s live performance. It almost feels historical now since it was one of the last performances for several months due to the temporary shutdowns in 2020. But she certainly didn’t disappoint.
Lafollette is a local musician who performs original acoustic folk songs, and she threw in a few covers.
I just want to let that settle in for a moment. I have a huge admiration for musicians who write their own music.
A long-time resident of Sevierville, she started performing when she was 12. First, as a clogger at Dollywood, according to Puckett’s event page.
Puckett’s books local artists frequently. Many places claim to support local, but Puckett’s practices what they preach.
They proudly pick Tennessee products whenever possible for guests. The list includes Tennessee Pride Sausage, Muletown Roasted Coffee and local produce for their homemade sauces.
Because it was a slow night, Lafollette came up to me after the show to say hi. Puckett’s is the type of friendly venue where that’s possible.
It’s not a bad idea to plan ahead during normal, busier times by making a reservation online or by calling 865-285-0155.
Puckett’s review: The food
I find that in most cases, you come to a venue because of the food or because of the entertainment. And although they are not mutually exclusive, one is usually much better than the other.
But that is not the case at Puckett’s. Come for the music. Come back for the food.
Sure, they have most things that could keep even the pickiest of eaters in the group happy: Burgers, sandwiches, salads and the works. But they’re known for that slow Memphis-style smoked meat.
The starter menu
The unique starter menu includes Bubba’s Bones, deep-fried baby back ribs with original bbq sauce. Puckett’s nachos, feature fresh tortilla chips, cowboy caviar, jalapeños, fresh cilantro, bbq drizzle and sour cream with fresh-made queso. The Pimento Cheese Bites are a breaded, flash-fried pimento cheese blend – served with pepper jelly. Also available are Fried Pickles and Cherry-Smoked Wings. And for the more traditional diner, try the Chicken Tender Platter – breaded fried chicken strips, fries and house honey mustard.
Puckett’s burgers and sandwiches
Some choices on the burgers and sandwiches menu include a true Southern tradition, the Smoked Bologna Sandwich with thick-cut slices of top-quality bologna on white bread and of course, lettuce, tomato and mayo. Another favorite is the Piggy Mac which is cherry wood smoked pulled pork in an iron skillet. It is topped with white cheddar mac n cheese and crumbs of freshly made biscuits!
The Nashville Cheesesteak offers either smoked beef brisket or grilled chicken topped with bell peppers, onions, BBQ sauce and white cheddar cheese sauce on a hoagie bun. And also the Music City Hot Sandwich – fried chicken with their own hot chicken spices served with Texas toast, house pickle and cole slaw.
Also on the menu, Baby Back Ribs, half or full rack, Creole-Fried Fresh Catfish, Whiskey Platter – grilled chicken breast with Tennessee Whiskey glaze, Country fried steak – tenderized ribeye battered, fried and topped with white pepper gravy, served with mashed potatoes and Southern green beans and so much more.
Can’t decide? Try the Whole Farm – beef brisket, cherry wood-smoked pulled pork, smoked half chicken and baby back ribs. And for the non-meat eaters, there is a scrumptious veggie plate.
Salads include the Entree with fresh greens, tomatoes, onions and cheddar and jack cheeses. Also the Strawberry Spinach, including heritage spring mix, baby spinach leaves, strawberries, pecans, blue cheese, onion and balsamic vinaigrette. The Country Cobb features romaine, red onion, hard-boiled egg, blue cheese crumbles, bacon and fried chicken with buttermilk ranch dressing. Last but not least, the BBQ Taco Salad with romaine, cowboy caviar, cheese, tortilla strips and your choice of cherry wood smoked pulled pork or beef brisket served with BBQ chipotle rance.
Sides include, skillet Mac n Cheese, smashed sweet potatoes, sweet potato fries, potato salad, cole slaw, smoked baked beans, collard greens, steamed broccoli, French fries, mashed potatoes and cowboy caviar.
If you have room for dessert, have some of their famous cobbler with vanilla ice cream, or a deep-fried chocolate fudge brownie sundae with surprisingly tasty candied bacon.
I asked the bartender, as one does, what the most popular item is, and he pointed me to the Puckett’s BBQ Platter. It has sweet potato fries, smoked baked beans and homemade cole slaw with a choice of pork, chicken or brisket.
Those options sounded delicious, but it also sounded like a lot of meat for just lil’ ol’ me, so I opted for the Puckett’s BBQ sandwich with the Skillet Mac n’ Cheese. It’s $2 extra for the macaroni substitution, but it’s worth it.
I ended up choosing the recommended Smoked Meatloaf dish: A house-ground, slow-smoked meatloaf that’s finished on the grill with mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes and green beans.
The bun was buttery and warm, and the meat was tender and practically melted in my mouth.
Puckett’s low and slow items are all smoked over cherry wood in the traditional Memphis-style dry rub. It is clear that they take the extra time to make a meal special.
The drink options feature more local favorites including Yee-Haw beer and Ole Smoky moonshine. I opted for one of the moonshine cocktails to wash down my tummy full of barbecue and macaroni.
This combination of slow-cooked meat, Southern comfort meals and live music combine for the perfect combination of one of the best spots in town to get some good Tennessee barbecue.
Breakfast is served from 7 am to 11 am daily. Meat specials are offered daily from 11 am to 3 pm.
Live music at Puckett’s
Live music lovers will also be happy to note that Puckett’s in Pigeon Forge offers live music as well as great food.
Music typically begins at 7:30 pm. There is no cover, but tips are appreciated. For more events at Puckett’s, visit their calendar of events.
Plan your trip
Puckett’s Grocery initially began in the 1950’s as a little grocery store in the village of Leiper’s Fork, Tenn. Over the years, Puckett’s built a name on hosting live, local music and serving Southern staples.
The dining room with its Southern hospitality and home atmosphere is currently open at Puckett’s in Pigeon Forge, and takeout and delivery are also available.
Puckett’s has locations in Nashville, Franklin, Columbia and Chattanooga, Tenn., and is part of the A. Marshall Hospitality family. For more information, visit Puckett’s website or view their menu here.