Where do locals eat in Gatlinburg? Our top 9 favorite restaurants

The Alamo Steakhouse

The Alamo Steakhouse is a local favorite (photo by Bill Burris/TheSmokies.com)

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In East Tennessee, we keep the secrets that need keeping. 

The best trout fishin’ holes? You’d better know somebody’s’ daddy.

Moonshine? Sure I can get you a jar. Oh, you want the name of my guy? Sorry, I can’t divulge that information.  

Which UT football player is driving around campus in a nice, new car? Son, if you post on that message board again you might just be askin’ for a butt whuppin’.

But other secrets we don’t worry so much about. 

What are locals’ favorite restaurants? Where are the best places to eat in town?

Heck, we’ll shout directions to strangers on the highway if we think they look hungry. 

And with so many great restaurants around here, you really can’t go wrong.

Sevier County has tons of unique places and even plenty of chain restaurants (if that’s what you’re in the mood for) bound to satisfy just about appetite.

But where do locals go to eat in Gatlinburg?

Well, we go to the same places y’all do. Pancake Pantry, Calhoun’s, even higher-end places like The Peddler Steakhouse. We just try to go when we know y’all won’t be there. 

Still, we do have favorite places that the visitors either don’t worry too much about or don’t want to get off the strip and check out. 

Here are some of our locals’ favorite spots, and in our opinion best restaurants, in Gatlinburg. 

This local place can be found near the main Gatlinburg strip but ever so slightly off the beaten path on River Road (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

9. Bennett’s Pit Bar-B-Que

Bennett’s BBQ is part of the Johnson Family of Restaurants and has multiple locations in the Smokies. Its Gatlinburg location shares a building with Big Daddy’s Pizzeria.

Bennett’s serves up hickory-smoked barbecue with a special house sauce in a variety of platters with respectable portion sizes. Most of the platters come with your choice of sides including french fries and veggies.

On the menu, you’ll find everything from chicken wings to beef brisket to deep-fried pickles.

It’s not that fancy. But it doesn’t need to be.

It’s just a great place to grab some traditional southern Bar-B-Que.

And the Gatlinburg location is especially helpful as it’s one of the only restaurants near the strip with honest-to-goodness free parking on site. Plus, if you have a picky eater on deck, you can even order pizza from the restaurant next door and request to have it brought to your table on the Bar-B-Que side. Pretty nifty.

The Smoky Mountain Brewery has two locations in the Smokies: One in Gatlinburg and the other in Pigeon Forge (photo by Bill Burris/TheSmokies.com)

8. Smoky Mountain Brewery

So nice, they built it twice.

With locations in both Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, the Smoky Mountain Brewery is a popular restaurant that features traditional American favorites like pizza, burgers and beer with live music on select nights.

How can you go wrong?

Crockett’s is the perfect place to sample true thick southern-style griddle pancakes (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

7. Crockett’s Breakfast Camp

Look, you can’t write an article about Gatlinburg without mentioning at least one pancake joint.

And Crockett’s Breakfast Camp’s claim to Gatlinburg fame are their larger-than-life ultra-thick griddlecakes.

But they’re also more than that. They’re also a great breakfast restaurant that hits the nail on the head when it comes to serving up classic Southern-style breakfast dishes like Corned Beef Hash Benedict and Pan-Fried Pork Chops.

Look, we aren’t saying they are better than The Pancake Pantry in the pancake department. Everybody knows that’s pancake royalty.

But everyone also knows that people will be lined up around the block them pancakes on the daily. And again, this list is more about where the locals go. And locals don’t like to go to places where we have to wait in line with the tourists for an hour.

Read Also: Crockett’s Breakfast Camp in Gatlinburg review: Is it worth it?

The Alamo Steakhouse is considered to be one of the best steakhouses in town (photo by Bill Burris/TheSmokies.com)

6. Alamo Steakhouse

If you want to start an intense debate with a local in the comments section of this article, take a firm stance that the Alamo Steakhouse is better than The Peddler. Or proudly proclaim that The Peddler is better than the Alamo. Then kick back and enjoy the fireworks.

Look, we don’t mean to pick sides, in fact, we think both are pretty great. Delicious food can be found at either establishment.

But when it came to choosing just one steakhouse for this article as the “local favorite” we ultimately sided with The Alamo.

Why? Honestly, it really came down to the crowds.

While both steakhouses are phenomenal, and both can be insanely crowded during peak season, The Alamo, we find, is just a little easier to get into logistically.

It’s always slightly less crowded. They’re located just a bit further from the strip with ample parking. And there’s a second location in Pigeon Forge that makes for a great backup plan.

Read Also: The Peddler vs. The Alamo: Which steakhouse is better?

Three Jimmy’s Good Time Eatery is located near the Arts and Crafts Community (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

5. Three Jimmy’s Good Time Eatery

Three Jimmy’s Good Time Eatery is a local favorite.

The menu is unpretentious. There’s live music, karaoke and corn hole.

The menu is billed as laid-back American comfort food. Wings, barbecue, steaks, pizza and they recently started making a mean chicken pot pie. There is a wide variety of sandwiches, everything from burgers to vegetarian.

Try the Gouda mac and cheese or the baked beans for your sides.

It’s fun, loose for adults, but not to the point you can’t bring kids for lunch or dinner.

Located off the main drag at 1359 East Parkway #F, it’s behind a Subway and a Family Dollar. It doesn’t get more local than that. 

Taste of Italy is located in Gatlinburg in a strip mall across from Food City, not far from the Parkway (photo by Kimberly Grayson/TheSmokies.com)

4. Taste of Italy

Not far down the Parkway from Three Jimmy’s is Taste of Italy, located next to Park Liquor Store and across from the Food City Gas N Go.

Taste of Italy is a local favorite for hearty Italian cuisine.

I’m a sucker for the meatball sub or a good calzone, but there’s pasta and chicken and pizza. It’s exactly what you’d expect from a family-owned Italian eatery. Try the buffalo cheese and thank me later.

No surprises. If I’m honest, I make a mean homemade spaghetti sauce and hardly ever order marinara and pasta when ordering Italian. I make an exception at Taste of Italy.

Chesapeake’s offers the best seafood experience in the Smokies (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

3. Chesapeake’s Seafood and Raw Bar

I used to have a pretty steadfast rule about eating seafood further than three hours from the coast, but places like Chesapeake’s Seafood and Raw Bar are why I had to change my mind.

A Knoxville institution that has expanded to Gatlinburg, Chesapeake’s is simply high-end seafood dining at its best.

It’s a popular place with amazing food.

Oysters, shrimp, lobster and crab, I’ve been to some of the best seafood places in the Carolina’s, Florida, Gulf Coast and Maryland – Chesapeake’s stands with them all.

It’s not an everyday dining experience, of course, for locals it’s reserved for a very special night out as it’s a fairly upscale restaurant. But it’s worth the price tag.

Chesapeake’s also offers a brunch with plenty of seafood choices and a western omelet with ham as well.

When in the mood for seafood, and/or a memorable dining experience, Chesapeake’s is the place. 

The Donut Friar – located in the heart of Gatlinburg – is a local institution (photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

2. The Donut Friar in The Village Shops

Let me tell you a story of my people.

A few years ago, I met a man who franchised a Dunkin Donuts in a medium-sized East Tennessee town.  

The place was immediately, madly successful, but in a way that surprised the corporate offices so much they sent people down to investigate.

Despite its name, in most of the civilized world, Dunkin’s big money is in the coffee. The donuts are just an accessory. 

Not here. We wanted the donuts to the point we broke the corporate model. 

I’ll tell you another secret of my people. The donuts at Dunkin? They’re fine for what they are. But if someone opened a Donut Friar next door? Dunkin would be out of business in a month. 

Open at 5 am daily, the Donut Friar offers cinnamon bread, pastries and, of course, donuts that were touched by angels.

The fact that the Pancake Pantry and the Donut Friar are located in downtown Gatlinburg so close to each other is a miracle of the Lord.

Speaking of the Pancake Pantry, the Friar also makes a great people-watching spot – if watching a slow moving line of hangry tourists waiting for their pancakes is your thing, that is.

Read Also: Donut Friar Gatlinburg: How the punny donut shop became Smokies famous

Delauder’s offers the best BBQ in Gatlinburg, hands down (photo by Daniel Munson/TheSmokies.com)

1. Delauder’s BBQ

Delauder’s is a self-described “family ran dive” and is all that’s good about Southern cooking.

Located up on the East Parkway past the high school, Delauder’s is off the beaten tourist path.

This hidden gem knows what great food and southern hospitality is really all about.

The tables are covered in red-checked tablecloths and a few of the chairs match.

You don’t go to Delauder’s for anything other than eating the best dang BBQ, brisket, ribs and sausage you will ever have in your life.

They even have a breaded tenderloin bigger than your head that makes my old Hoosier heart happy and possibly endangered.  

It is a happy, happy place. 

Are you a local? What are your favorite dining options in the Smokies? What restaurants would you recommend to tourists for a Smoky Mountain vacation? Let us know in the comments!

Disclaimer: While we do our best to bring you the most up-to-date information, attractions or prices mentioned in this article may vary by season and are subject to change. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any mentioned business, and have not been reviewed or endorsed these entities. Contact us at [email protected] for questions or comments.

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11 thoughts on “Where do locals eat in Gatlinburg? Our top 9 favorite restaurants”

  1. Is the Atrium still at Gatlinburg? I thought that would be on the list..seemed down home. Loved it. We went for breakfast one morning.

  2. Well I’ve lived here in Gatlinburg all my life and have gave up on going out to eat in sevier co . To many tourists and you can’t find a place that’s not on a 2 hr wait usually so we just pre meal and cook at home now thanks alot guys .

  3. Naw…very ..very disappointed in Delauders after very high hopes..just a very average place …not that great..not that bad..once and done..

  4. Went to Taste of Italy while in town last year and was not impressed. I have to agree with Lee, it was mediocre. I was very disappointed. The food was more like a step above fast food offerings.

  5. Been to Gatlinburg many times, 2 summers ago we went to Almo with expectations as it was very good the year prior, but we were severely disappointed, along with Hick’s Finn’s . I am hoping for a better experience this summer.

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