I’ve Eaten at Over 50 Gatlinburg Restaurants, These 8 Are the Best

crab legs

Chesapeake's is consistently one of the best restaurants in Gatlinburg. Pictured: king crab legs (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Smoky Mountain native shares secret of where locals eat in Gatlinburg

In East Tennessee, we locals keep the secrets that need keeping. The best trout fishin’ holes? You’d better know somebody. But other secrets we don’t worry so much about. For example, 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. So where do the locals eat in Gatlinburg? As someone who lives just up the road and has eaten at nearly every restaurant in town, I’ll tell you where I prefer to dine in Gatlinburg:

bbq from Delauder's BBQ Gatlinburg
Delauder’s BBQ has some of the best meat in town (photo courtesy of Delauders)

1. Delauder’s BBQ

Delauder’s is a self-described “family-run 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 are really all about. The tables are covered in red-checked tablecloths and a few of the chairs match. They even have a breaded tenderloin bigger than my head. It is a happy, happy place. Currently, they’re only open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, so check the business hours before making your trip.

donut friar eclair in front of sign at the donut friar
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

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 that they sent people down to investigate. But the donuts at Dunkin? They’re fine. 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 its famous cinnamon bread, pastries and, of course, donuts that were touched by angels. You can find this spot in The Village at 634 Parkway, Ste 15.

Seafood Platter Chesapeakes
I usually avoid seafood unless I’m near the coast, but I make an exception for Chesapeake’s (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

3. Chesapeake’s Seafood and Raw Bar

I used to have a 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. Chesapeake’s is simply high-end seafood dining at its best. From oysters, shrimp, lobster and crab, I’ve been to some of the best seafood places in the Carolinas, Florida, Gulf Coast and Maryland – and Chesapeake’s stands with them all. It’s a bit on the expensive side. So for me, it’s reserved for a very special night out, but it’s worth the price tag. It’s located at 437 Parkway, and reservations are recommended.

a plate of fried catfish, potatoes from three jimmy's in gatlinburg tn
Three Jimmy’s offers traditional Southern comfort food (photo by John Gullion/TheSmokies.com)

4. 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 like wings, barbecue, steaks and pizza. They also recently started making a mean chicken pot pie. 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. 

steak and babked potato at alamo steakhouse in gatlinburg tn
The Alamo prepares a delicious steak, and it’s often not quite as crowded as places like The Peddler (photo by Bill Burris/TheSmokies.com)

5. 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. But truly, I think both are pretty great. But when it came to choosing just one steakhouse for this article as the “local favorite”, I ultimately sided with The Alamo. Why? It comes down to the crowds. While both steakhouses are phenomenal, and both can be insanely crowded during peak season, The Alamo is just a little easier to get into logistically. Plus, they’re located just a bit further from the strip with ample parking.

pancakes with strawberries and whip cream
Crockett’s is well-known for its delicious, thick pancakes (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

6. Crockett’s Breakfast Camp

Look, I can’t write an article about Gatlinburg without mentioning at least one pancake place. And Crockett’s Breakfast Camp’s claim to Gatlinburg fame is their larger-than-life ultra-thick griddlecakes. But 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. While a place like the Pancake Pantry is pancake royalty, I know that people will be lined up around the block them pancakes daily. Personally, I don’t like to go to places where we have to wait in line with the tourists for an hour. Crockett’s is located at 1103 Parkway. Join the wait list via their website.

boneless wings from smoky mountain brewery
Smoky Mountain Brewery has delicious cocktails, brews and American-style food (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

7. Smoky Mountain Brewery

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 and karaoke on select nights. I love dishes like their nachos and wings as I enjoy a nice adult beverage. The Gatlinburg location is at 1004 Parkway, Ste 501.

A meat platter at Bennett's BBQ
Bennett’s offers combo platters and pork platters so you can sample some variety (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

8. Bennett’s Pit Bar-B-Que

Bennett’s BBQ is part of the Johnson Family of Restaurants and has multiple locations in the Smokies. They serve up hickory-smoked barbecue with a special house sauce in a variety of platters with respectable portion sizes. Most 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. One of my favorite things about Bennett’s is the large serving sizes. The Gatlinburg location can be found at 714 River Road.

Are you a local? What are your favorite dining options in the Smokies? Let me know in the comments!

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17 thoughts on “I’ve Eaten at Over 50 Gatlinburg Restaurants, These 8 Are the Best”

  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.

  6. Love the Greenbrier! Burg Steakhouse had great service and an excellent buffet bar. Howard’s has been our favorite for years. Calhouns has great food. Smoky Mountain Brewery is fun!

  7. The Peddler, Greenbrier, Chesapeake’s and Cherokee Grill would be my top 4 for dinner. Pancake Pantry is good for breakfast. Music is just too loud while trying to eat at Smokey Mt. Brewery but food is good.

  8. I started visiting in 1979, and usually visit 2-3 times a year. You have a decent list… In our opinion, Howard’s has the very best steaks in the whole area. The Peddler and Alamo are good, not as good as Howard’s. The marinated-in-ale pork chops at Calhoun’s are worth the drive(our drive is 3.5 hours). We’ll take the Log Cabin Pancake House on Airport Rd. for breakfast over any other breakfast place including Pancake Pantry. It’s the same quality and atmosphere as it was in ’79. The Old Mill is pretty awesome in it’s own right. We like to hit up Huck’s for catfish every now and then, it never disappoints. We were there the last week of Oct. and are ready to go back!

  9. Preachers Smokehouse is hands down the best BBQ in the area. It is a must try.2929 Pittman Center Rd, Sevierville, TN 37876

  10. Has anyone tried Little Mountain Eatery in Sevierville ? We tried it and was impressed with the prices and the quality of the food. The service was excellent.


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