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So you want to eat late? Round here, that means 8 pm.
While we don’t exactly keep retirees hours, our restaurants are far more likely to be busy at 5:30 than they are after 9 pm.
You want to eat after 9 pm?
It’s cool. You’ll get to watch as the staff starts the process of closing for the night.
You want to eat something other than fast food after 10?
Well son, you’d best have a plan because there are more than a few restaurants around here that don’t go for that kind of business.
So what do you? Well, luckily Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are tourist towns. You have a few options where you can comfortably eat late and be fairly confident the wait staff isn’t sabotaging your jalapeño poppers in the back.
Editor’s Note: The following restaurants in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg are normally open til 11 pm or later, restaurant hours may vary especially during holidays and are subject to change. Always call ahead before making plans.
5. Mel’s Diner (Pigeon Forge, open til midnight)
What are we looking to accomplish here? You want an elegant late dining experience? This isn’t the place.
However, in my experience, there are two types of late-night eaters and one of the two may very well be drunker than hell.
Mel’s Diner, open until midnight, serves classic 50s diner fare. Burgers. Fries. Shakes. Dogs. But they’re good. Better than anything you’d get at a place with a drive-thru.
It’s a fun atmosphere. They lean a little hard into the naming-everything-after someone shtick. And, frankly, I refuse to order Chachi’s Cheese Nachos on general principle. On the plus side, I can order a Big Bopper Bacon Cheeseburger and regal the crew with my quite excellent Big Bopper impersonation. Chantilly Lace forever, y’all.
4. Funky Budha Sports Bar and Lounge (Pigeon Forge, open til 3am)
One of the few real night spots in the area, maybe the only one, the Funky Budha lays claim to be the only restaurant on the list named after a Cypress Hill lyric. The Funky Budha is not necessarily the place to wind the family down after a long day. As a lounge and sports bar, the restaurant is simply a division of the operation. Still, the food is funky and spicy.
Try the Kung Pao Steak if you’re young and healthy and haven’t destroyed the lining of your stomach already.
On the downside, there is the disconcerting fact that their chicken dishes are labeled as Treasures from the Sky and the idea of chickens learning to fly and taking to the air is one of my recurrent nightmares. Those things are descended from raptors and no one can tell me differently.
Happily, steak and seafood are both appropriately labeled as Land and Sea Treasures, respectively. Open until 3 am, Funky Budha is 21 and up after 9 pm, and they have hookah on the patio in case you’re really into Lewis Carroll cosplay.
3. The Chop House (Sevierville, open til 11 pm on select days)
Again, we’re playing a little fast and loose with the rules here. Through the week, the Chop House shuts down at 10 pm but Friday and Saturday it is open until 11 pm.
This is a completely different vibe than the others on the list. Low key, quiet and classic, and family friendly; the Chop House is a great place for gatherings that aren’t just about getting some beer or finding a dance floor.
You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. If you want something fairly light, the salads are fresh and varied, the appetizers are fantastic – try the deviled eggs. Seriously.
Chicken, steak, pork and seafood, there’s something for everyone. Chop House is a great place to stop after a long day and have an excellent meal.
2. Smoky Mountain Brewery (Pigeon Forge & Gatlinburg, open til midnight)
Though the beer is obviously the main attraction, you could do a lot worse dining late in Sevier County than the Smoky Mountain Brewery. Open until 12 am, the brewery serves sandwiches, burgers, wings, apps and a really nice pizza.
If you’re looking for something a little heartier – and who isn’t at 11 pm – they have a quality selection of steaks and ribs as well.
Myself? I’m a fan of the calzone. But be warned. If you’ve had a few of the house beverages, the calzone is a dangerous choice as there’s a chance you’ll be wearing as much of it as you ate.
1. J.T. Hannah’s Kitchen (Pigeon Forge, open til 11 pm on select days)
We’re playing a little fast and loose here with the rules; J.T. Hannah’s is only open until 9 pm Sunday through Thursday, but on Fridays and Saturdays, serves customers until 11 pm.
More serious dining than some late night hot-spots, J.T. Hannah’s hits the right notes for eating out late. Relaxed, laid back and fun, but unlikely to get too crazy, J.T. Hannah’s offers burgers, seafood and steaks, but it’s the St. Louis style ribs that are the star of the show. The deep-fried Mississippi catfish is also a favorite and goes great with Hannah’s Fried Pickle Chips as an appetizer.
Do you agree with our list? What are your favorite late night dining options in the Smokies? Let us know in the comments.
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