Eat Like a Local in the Smoky Mountains

Everywhere you look on the Parkway, you’ll find restaurants trying to lure you in with their buffets, dinner shows, diners, etc. But these places aren’t where the locals go. Here’s your go-to guide to eat like a local in the Smoky Mountains. We’ve separated it out by town and included a brief description for each restaurant so that you can find the best place to eat.

Eat Like a Local in Pigeon Forge:

1. The Old Mill Restaurant ($$): Known for its traditional Southern cuisine and historic setting, featuring dishes like fried chicken and homemade desserts.

2. The Pottery House Café and Grille ($$): Located at Old Mill Square, this restaurant offers a cozy atmosphere and serves American cuisine, including sandwiches, soups, and salads.

3. Frizzle Chicken Cafe ($$): Start your morning off right with a fun-filled meal at Frizzle Chicken Café! Perfect spot to take the kids for breakfast or lunch. Their family-friendly restaurant in Pigeon Forge serves up delicious, Southern-style breakfast and lunch with a side of fun. There won’t be a minute of boredom during your meal as you watch their animatronic singing chickens!

4. The Local Goat ($$): This is probably the most popular restaurant in the area. It’s a gastropub offering a farm-to-table experience with a wide range of dishes, including burgers, salads, and locally sourced ingredients. They make everything from scratch, from the buns to the ketchup. Reservations are highly recommended as this place gets packed.

5. Bennett’s Pit Bar-B-Que ($$): This barbecue joint is popular among locals and visitors alike. They serve up delicious smoked meats like pulled pork, ribs, and brisket, along with classic sides like mac and cheese and baked beans.

6. The Apple Barn Cider Mill & General Store ($$): A Pigeon Forge institution, the Apple Barn is a favorite among locals. They serve hearty Southern fare, including apple fritters, fried chicken, and country-fried steak. Don’t forget to try their famous apple cider and apple butter!

7. Mama’s Farmhouse ($$): If you’re looking for a family-style dining experience, locals often recommend Mama’s Farmhouse. They offer an all-you-can-eat feast of Southern comfort food, including fried chicken, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and cornbread.

8. The Local Goat Distillery ($$): For those interested in craft spirits, the Local Goat Distillery is a popular spot. They offer tastings of their locally distilled whiskey, moonshine, and other spirits, along with a small food menu featuring snacks and appetizers.

9. Blue Moose Burgers & Wings ($$): This family-friendly restaurant is known for its juicy burgers, flavorful wings, and a wide variety of sauces. They also have vegetarian options and a selection of craft beers.

10. Little Tokyo ($$): If you’re craving Japanese cuisine, Little Tokyo is a popular choice. They offer a range of sushi rolls, sashimi, teriyaki dishes, and other Japanese specialties in a cozy setting.

Eat Like a Local in Gatlinburg:

1. The Peddler Steakhouse ($$$): A long-standing local favorite specializing in hand-cut steaks, grilled to perfection, and served with delicious sides.

2. Cherokee Grill ($$): Known for its upscale mountain lodge ambiance, this restaurant offers a diverse menu featuring steaks, seafood, and regional favorites.

3. Best Italian Café & Pizzeria ($$): A family-owned Italian restaurant serving pizza, pasta, and classic Italian dishes in a relaxed atmosphere.

4. No Way Jose’s Mexican Cantina ($$): Are you looking for authentic Mexican food in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge? They combine the delicious and fresh flavors of Mexican dishes and mix it with a fun and family-friendly atmosphere. They have both Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg restaurant locations.

5. Crazy Mason Milkshake Bar ($): Indulge yourself in a crazy, and we mean crazy milkshake stacked high with all sorts of delectible treats. Your kids will go wild at the sight of these and their sugar high will last for hours.

5. The Park Grill ($$): Another popular steakhouse in Gatlinburg, The Park Grill is known for its wood-fired steaks, fresh seafood, and extensive salad bar. It has a cozy mountain lodge atmosphere and is a favorite among locals and visitors alike.

6. The Donut Friar ($): For a delightful breakfast or snack, locals often visit The Donut Friar. Located in The Village Shops, this charming bakery offers freshly baked pastries, including their famous cinnamon bread and donuts. Pair it with a cup of coffee for a perfect start to the day.

7. Delauder’s Smoky Mountain BBQ ($): If you’re craving barbecue, locals recommend Delauder’s Smoky Mountain BBQ. They serve mouthwatering smoked meats like pulled pork, ribs, and chicken, along with delicious sides like baked beans and coleslaw. It’s a casual and authentic barbecue joint loved by locals.

8. The Greenbrier Restaurant ($$$): Tucked away in the Smoky Mountains, The Greenbrier Restaurant is known for its scenic views and excellent food. They offer a menu featuring Southern cuisine, including dishes like trout almondine, shrimp and grits, and prime rib.

9. The Alamo Steakhouse ($$): It’s been ranked the best steak of Pigeon Forge, so you won’t regret a visit to Alamo Steakhouse. With it’s aged steaks, burgers, soups, sides, and sauces, you can’t go wrong!

10. The Wild Plum Tea Room ($$): Located in Gatlinburg, this tea room is known for its charming atmosphere and delicious teas, sandwiches, and desserts.

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Mountain views from the deck
Mountain views from the deck
Cabin view of the back deck
Cabin view of the back deck
Fire pit at dusk
Fire pit at dusk
7-seater hot tub
7-seater hot tub
Game room equipped with ping pong, foosball, and pool
Spacious Game room and movie space
Open living room
Open living room
Dedicated movie space + Popcorn machine!
Battle on the arcade games
Battle on the arcade games
Dining room + Kitchen island
Upstairs king master bedroom with mountain views
Upstairs king master bedroom with mountain views
Second upstairs king bedroom with views of the mountains
2nd upstairs king bedroom with views of the mountains
Downstairs queen bedroom and Roku TV
Downstairs queen bedroom and Roku TV
2 twin bunk beds in the open game room
Jacuzzi off the 2nd king bedroom
Newly remodeled kitchen + island
Newly remodeled kitchen + island
Driveway at dawn
Driveway at dawn
Access to the community pool
Access to the community pool

Eat Like a Local in Sevierville:

1. Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant ($$): The oldest restaurant in Sevierville, this is a local favorite featuring hearty southern food and orchard fruits. It’s owned by the same local company as LeConte Lodge.

2. The Chop House ($$): Known for its delicious steaks and seafood, The Chop House offers a warm and inviting atmosphere. They also have a great selection of wines to complement your meal.

3. Trotter’s Whole Hog BBQ ($$): New for 2023, this is a artisan BBQ restaurant located in the Historic District of downtown Sevierville. It’s owned by the same folks of The Appalachian and the BBQ served sets a high bar of excellence. They also have a pour-it-yourself beer wall.

4. Thai Basil ($$): If you’re in the mood for Thai cuisine, Thai Basil is a popular choice. They serve authentic Thai dishes made with fresh ingredients, including curries, stir-fries, and noodle dishes.

5. Tony Gore’s Smoky Mountain BBQ & Grill ($$): This barbecue joint is a favorite among locals and visitors alike. They serve mouthwatering ribs, pulled pork, and other barbecue classics, along with delicious sides.

6. Five Oaks Farm Kitchen ($$): This is a wonderful southern cooking at its finest. Enjoy their ring baked griddle cakes, hearty soups, or fried chicken. Set in a beautiful vaulted ceiling cabin-like interior, this is a favorite among locals and located on the North end of Sevierville.

7. Graze Burgers ($$): For burger enthusiasts, Graze Burgers is a must-visit. They offer gourmet burgers made with high-quality ingredients and unique flavor combinations. They also have vegetarian and gluten-free options.

8. The Appalachian ($$$$): Located in The Lodge at Five Oaks, The Appalachian is known for its farm-to-table concept. They serve dishes inspired by Appalachian cuisine, using locally sourced ingredients to create delicious and seasonal meals.

9. El Paso Mexican Restaurant ($$): If you’re in the mood for Mexican cuisine, El Paso is a popular choice. They offer a range of traditional Mexican dishes, including tacos, enchiladas, fajitas, and margaritas.

10. Holston’s Kitchen ($$): This restaurant serves Southern comfort food with a modern twist. From fried green tomatoes to shrimp and grits, Holston’s Kitchen offers a diverse menu in a casual setting.

Eat Like a Local in Wears Valley

Wears Valley has a smaller selection of food options, and you’ll find it’s a lot less crowded than Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg, and it’s only a 5-10min drive from Smoky Mountains Lodge.

1. Elvira’s Cafe ($$): This place offers a mix of American and Mexican cuisine. They are known for their breakfast and brunch options, including delicious omelets and Mexican-inspired dishes. Named as one of the “Top 100 Places to Eat Across America” in 2022, this is one place not to miss.

2. Wears Valley Social Food Truck Park ($): Open most of year, they offer a rotating list of local food trucks and a nice open eating area. They’ve had trucks such as the Chicken Coop, Coles Southern BBQ, Fat Bear, Gringos Tacos, and others come by. They also have a playground for the kids and feature live events throughout the year.

3. Sloppy Hog Burger Joint ($): Enjoy their smash burgers and make sure to order the onion rings, (but skip the pizza). It’s located right in the valley amongst the beautiful views.

4. Hillbilly’s Restaurant ($): This is a casual restaurant serving southern comfort food and burgers.

5. PawPaw’s Kajun Kitchen ($$): This restaurant specializes in Southern and Cajun cuisine. You can expect dishes like gumbo, jambalaya, and po’boys.

Eat Like a Local in Townsend

1. The Abbey ($): Originally a church, this is now converted into a dining and beverage hall. It’s a great way to spend a sunny afternoon, eating lunch by the river and drinking your favorite brew, whether it be Craft Beer, Cider, Sweet Iced Tea or a Soft Drink. In the summer you can watch the rafters float by on the river. They also offer flatbreads and bites, as well as corn hole and Connect-4 for some fun family yard games.

2. Dancing Bear lodge ($$): Located at the Dancing Bear Lodge, this upscale restaurant offers a refined dining experience with a focus on locally sourced ingredients and Appalachian-inspired cuisine. The menu features dishes like trout, duck breast, and venison. Grab yourself a date and reserve a table for 2 for a romantic night out. This is one of “The South’s 38 Essential Restaurants” according to Eater.

3. The Peaceful Side Social Brewery & Craft Kitchen ($$): Experience culinary bliss at Peaceful Side Social and Craft Kitchen in Townsend, TN, where locally sourced ingredients are masterfully crafted into delectable dishes, offering a harmonious blend of flavors that reflects the essence of the Smoky Mountains in every bite, all within a warm and inviting atmosphere. Indulge in a gastronomic journey that celebrates community, quality, and the artistry of Southern cuisine.

4. The Trailhead Steak & Trout ($$): This rustic steakhouse specializes in high-quality steaks and other grilled meats. They also offer seafood options and vegetarian dishes. The Trailhead Steakhouse provides a relaxed atmosphere and friendly service.

5. Little River Bar-B-Q: If you’re craving barbecue, Little River Bar-B-Q is the place to go. This casual joint serves up delicious smoked meats, including ribs, pulled pork, and chicken. The sides, such as mac and cheese, coleslaw, and baked beans, are also worth trying.

6. The Apple Valley Mountain Village & Café ($$): Situated in a charming log cabin, The Apple Valley Café offers homestyle Southern cooking. They are particularly famous for their breakfast menu, which includes pancakes, omelets, and biscuits with gravy. They also serve lunch and dinner, featuring comfort food classics.

7. Riverstone Restaurant ($$): Overlooking the Little River, Riverstone Restaurant offers a picturesque setting to enjoy a meal. They serve a variety of dishes, including seafood, steaks, sandwiches, and pasta. The patio seating is especially delightful during warm weather.

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Where have you been that’s not your usual tourist traps? We want to know about it! Comment below.

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