Gatlinburg, located near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is a popular wedding, honeymoon and romantic getaway destination.
As such, it is appropriate that this village in the mountains offers a certain amount of romantic dinner destinations.
After all, not every bride wants to dine at Dick’s Last Resort on her wedding night.
But what is romantic, really?
We have all the classic ideals. Lighting. A soft glow. Mellow music. Maybe a charcuterie board. A certain level of quality when it comes to food.
And of course, an elegant wait staff that knows how to create a particular level of ambiance.
But each person has a different idea about what’s romantic.
For instance, maybe it’s the memory of the location where they fell in love. Maybe it’s a place where they can dance.
For my wife, romance is a place where she can drink heavily. (Just kidding … as far as you know.)
With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of the best romantic restaurants in the mountains for your next special occasion or date night.
6. The Peddler Steakhouse
However, it is important to note that none of the three are overtly romantic except in the ambiance of quality and class that our society has decided is an indication of the romantic ideal.
But, going out for a fine dinner, enjoying each other’s company and a night on the town is romantic in all the right ways, even without a side of mood lighting and violins.
The Peddler, a local favorite located in the heart of Gatlinburg, is a great place for those who love great steaks, a cozy cabin-like atmosphere and a robust salad bar – which is included with every entree.
It’s the perfect place for guests staying downtown who love a classic steakhouse.
Meat lovers will want to try the filet mignon or the prime rib – both naturally aged and grilled over real Tennessee hickory charcoal.
And don’t forget to sample some of their delicious desserts.
If you have any trouble getting in, you may also want to check out The Park Grill – their sister restaurant located just a few blocks away.
5. The Greenbrier Restaurant
The Greenbrier Restaurant is for those seeking out a more intimate, unique dining experience with great food off the beaten path.
Billed as Gatlinburg’s premier steakhouse, The Greenbrier features higher-end fine dining options like hickory-smoked chicken, duck breast, bone-in ribeye, pork chops and New York Strip.
They are also known for their unique craft cocktails.
And be sure to order some spinach artichoke dip as an appetizer.
The restaurant is housed in an authentic historic log cabin converted into a restaurant with limited seating. Guests are encouraged to book reservations online using Greenbrier’s website.
Chesapeake’s offers some of the best seafood in the region.
The crab cakes are delicious. And the pan-blackened scallops are divine.
Plus, they are conveniently located on the edge of downtown Gatlinburg within walking distance to popular attractions but away from the parts of town most notorious for traffic jams.
And, the river views aren’t too shabby either for those seeking a romantic dining experience.
3. The Melting Pot
The only true chain restaurant on the list, The Melting Pot is a personal favorite.
And it’s a great choice for couples looking for a unique experience.
The Melting Pot offers several fondue cooking styles which can set the tone for a romantic evening out.
Additionally, the lighting is right with fixtures designed to create a certain mood.
And most importantly, the food is of fine quality.
A delicious meal with a romantic atmosphere. What more could you ask for?
However, keep in mind that the first attempt at fondue can be tricky. You’ll want to avoid a culinary mishap on your date night. Just remember, the likelihood of an injury is lessened using the broth method rather than oil.
Firstly, a traditional fondue starts with a melted cheese course with fruits, vegetables and other items like assorted bread options for dipping.
After that, comes the main course. All come with a variety of sauces.
If planning a proposal or celebrating a special anniversary, ask about the Lovers Lane table and special packages.
As a romantic bonus, it’s a French custom that if an item comes off your fondue fork, you’re to give the person to your left a kiss on the cheek.
At least, that’s what my French teacher said. And why I spent a good portion of my fondue lesson trying to get to the left of Stephanie Poplin.
Alas, Stephanie’s fork game was impeccable.
Editor’s Note: OK, I Googled this. Get ready. It’s a roller coaster.
The Sarasota-Herald Tribune confirms Mrs. Clemens, the French teacher’s, version. Other sites suggest that if a woman drops her dipper, she kisses all the men at the table. Mrs. Clemens, I think, wisely avoided that one. Similarly, if a man is the unfortunate one who drops a dipper, he should buy a bottle of wine or a round of drinks for the table.
Oh, the French.
However, there’s also the Swiss tradition. If a person drops their bread in the fondue, their companion chooses their penance.
Slow your roll, please, Switzerland. After all, we’re talking cheese and bread here, ain’t nobody committing a mortal sin … yet.
Finally, for dessert, melt her heart with melted chocolate fondue. Cheesecake, pound cake, fresh fruit and berries, it’s all good when covered in chocolate.
2. Cliff Top at Anakeesta
While this one will require an admission ticket to Anakeesta, it can’t be overlooked.
Dine at the Cliff Top restaurant in Anakeesta’s Black Bear Village with incredible views of the mountains.
While you dine, take in the spectacular view at sunset as the mountains plunge into darkness. The American-themed cuisine is good, yet not pretentious.
After that, have a glass of wine.
Later, stroll around the village at night looking up at the stars.
Descend back down into Gatlinburg on the Chondola where you can cruise comfortably down the mountain into the bright lights of the city below. The soothing, quiet ride is perfect for snuggling.
This experience goes beyond a simple dinner. Remember to check Tripster for discounts.
1. The Buckhorn Inn
Finally, The Buckhorn, a classic country inn, offers grand views of the Smokies from an elegant bed and breakfast that offers the charm of a Smoky Mountain lodge.
Treat yourself to a romantic, Southern-influenced dinner from a menu that changes weekly.
The Buckhorn Inn restaurant, which is open to the public, offers a three-course prix fixe dinner at 7 pm seven nights a week. However, reservations are required.
Additionally, vegetarian dishes are available on advance notice.
And with a romantic dinner at The Buckhorn, there is an option of an additional romantic overnight stay.
The Buckhorn, established in 1938, offers private rooms, private guest-houses and in-room indulgences. Champagne, flowers and chocolate-dipped strawberries provide the perfect ambiance.
Want to indulge your romantic side? Have a spa basket and matching Buckhorn bathrobes awaiting your loved one upon your arrival.
After that, at the risk of getting too crass here, at the end let me just say, bow-chicka-wow-wow.
What do you think? What is your favorite romantic restaurant? Let us know in the comments.