Nestled at the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg, TN, is a blend of rustic charm and vibrant culture. As visitors traverse its scenic pathways, the tantalizing aroma from various Gatlinburg restaurants beckons them, promising an unparalleled dining experience.
From traditional pancake houses lining the streets to upscale bistros, the restaurants in Gatlinburg, TN, are a culinary representation of the region's rich heritage. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a curious food enthusiast, Gatlinburg offers a feast not just for the senses but also for the soul. Dive in as we explore the best restaurants in Gatlinburg.
What food is Gatlinburg famous for?
When it comes to food, Gatlinburg is a haven of mouthwatering variety that reflects the diversity of its landscape and culture. First up on the list are pancake houses. With spots like the Pancake Pantry, you'll find flapjacks flipping as a tribute to tradition, served with butter, syrup, and a hearty Southern smile.
But that's not all—trout is another local star. Visit Smoky Mountain Trout House, and you'll understand why this delicate fish is a staple in mountain cuisine. Don't forget the allure of hand-cut steaks, often highlighted in menus at establishments like Cherokee Grill, where quality meats meet Southern flair. Whether you're in the mood for an early morning sugar rush or a hearty dinner, Gatlinburg TN restaurants offer a culinary journey that can satisfy any palate.
So, when you're planning what to eat in Gatlinburg, rest assured, the city's dining options have something for everyone.
The Top 13 Gatlinburg Restaurants
Old Mill Restaurant
The historic Old Mill Restaurant takes patrons on a culinary journey back in time. Known for its comforting Southern classics, visitors rave about their pot roast and fried chicken. The ambient water wheel and rustic interiors, coupled with dishes that feel like a warm embrace, make it an essential stop.
The Pancake Pantry stands as a testament to Gatlinburg's love for breakfast delights. As the first pancake house in Tennessee, it boasts an array of fluffy, golden pancakes that draw both locals and tourists. With a warm, inviting ambiance, each plate promises a taste of tradition, from the sweet syrup cascading over buttermilk stacks to savory crepes. A visit here guarantees a perfect morning in the heart of Gatlinburg.
Smoky Mountain Trout House:
Gatlinburg’s culinary scene won't be complete without the Smoky Mountain Trout House. Celebrating the region's freshwater bounty, this eatery specializes in trout dishes, serving them in myriad styles from grilled to fried. Their commitment to freshness ensures each bite is succulent and flavorful. Nestled close to the water, diners are treated to scenic views, enhancing the dining experience, making it a true homage to Smoky Mountains’ aquatic delights.
Cherokee Grill presents a blend of mountain lodge ambiance with the elegance of a fine dining establishment. Specializing in hand-cut steaks, it has earned its reputation as a steak lover's haven in Gatlinburg. The menu, though, goes beyond steaks, offering a range of Southern-inspired dishes that resonate with the region's culinary ethos. Its polished interiors, warm lighting, and attentive service make every meal an occasion to remember.
Split Rail Eats
A delightful merger of past and present, Split Rail Eats offers a fusion menu. From juicy burgers to fresh salads, every dish is an artwork. Their unique twists on classic dishes, combined with a cozy atmosphere, make it a dining hotspot.
Crockett's Breakfast Camp
Morning in Gatlinburg isn’t complete without experiencing Crockett's. Famous for its enormous servings and pioneer-inspired setting, it's a pancake haven. The Griddle Cakes are a must-try, promising a flavorful start to your day.
Steak enthusiasts, rejoice! Bullfish Grill specializes in hand-cut steaks, ensuring a tender bite each time. With an elegant ambiance, it's perfect for those seeking a sophisticated dining experience. Their seafood dishes, especially the trout, also deserve special mention.
Crystelle Creek Restaurant
Dine under the stars in Crystelle Creek’s enchanting outdoor patio. With melodious live music and an Italian cafe touch, it offers pasta, steaks, and seafood. The serene creek view and the mouthwatering menu are a winning combo.
Red Oak Bistro
This modern bistro boasts a curated menu of fine wines and dishes. Whether you're in for a light bite or a full-course meal, Red Oak's ambiance and taste profiles promise a memorable evening.
Dive deep into the smoky world of Gatlinburg with Delauder's tantalizing BBQ offerings. Whether it's their ribs or pulled pork sandwiches, each bite is smoky, juicy, and absolutely divine. It’s a local favorite for a reason!
Junction 35 Spirits
More than just a restaurant, Junction 35 SpiritsJunction 35 Spirits combines great food with exceptional drinks. Their craft cocktails, made with locally distilled spirits, pair perfectly with the eclectic menu. The atmosphere is lively, making it a top spot for night outs.
Smoky Mountain Brewery
Experience the craft of brewing amidst the mountains at Smoky Mountain Brewery. With a range of beers inspired by the Smoky Mountains, paired with hearty American classics, it's both a feast and a toast to the region.
El Soñador Mexican Restaurant
Authenticity meets flavor at El Soñador. Dive into a plate of enchiladas or savor their homemade guacamole. And don't skip on their creamy ice cream desserts. It’s the Mexican culinary dream in the heart of Gatlinburg.
These are just the cherries on top of Gatlinburg's vast culinary scene. Each establishment offers not just food but a slice of the region's culture and history.
How Do I Spend a Day in Gatlinburg?
Gatlinburg greets you with the promise of adventure as the sun casts its first golden rays over the Smoky Mountains. Start your day in the heart of downtown Gatlinburg. The streets come alive with local artisans displaying their crafts, and the fragrance of fresh pancakes wafts through the air.
Make a pitstop at Crockett's Breakfast Camp for a hearty Southern breakfast. Their signature pancakes and rich coffee provide the fuel you need for the day ahead. After your meal, immerse yourself in the rich heritage of the arts and crafts community, where local craftsmen showcase their talent, from intricate woodwork to handcrafted jewelry.
By afternoon, it's time to explore the natural beauty surrounding Gatlinburg. Head to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Here, endless trails, cascading waterfalls, and panoramic vistas await. As you hike or drive through, the park's diverse flora and fauna become your companions.
Post your nature retreat, hunger pangs will lead you to Delauder's BBQ or El Soñador Mexican Restaurant for lunch. Relish the smoky flavors of the barbecue or dive into vibrant Mexican cuisine while reminiscing about your park adventures.
As the sun dips, Gatlinburg transforms into a luminous jewel. Wander through downtown Gatlinburg again, but this time, under the canopy of twinkling lights. For dinner, choose among the best restaurants in Gatlinburg we've highlighted, ensuring a gourmet treat. Maybe Bullfish Grill for those seeking hand-cut steaks or Crystelle Creek Restaurant for an alfresco dining experience.
Post-dinner, take an evening stroll, stopping at local ice cream parlors to satisfy your sweet tooth. The sound of live music might entice you into a local bar or brewery. Let the night unfold with laughter, music, and maybe a dance or two, celebrating the perfect day in Gatlinburg.
The Bottom Line
Gatlinburg, with its enchanting blend of natural beauty and culinary excellence, offers more than just picturesque views of the Smoky Mountains. It’s a gastronomic journey waiting to be explored, with each restaurant telling a unique story, flavored with history, culture, and a generous dash of Southern charm.
Whether it's the traditional allure of Pancake Pantry, the aquatic symphony at Smoky Mountain Trout House, or the steakhouse brilliance of Cherokee Grill, Gatlinburg has carved a niche in the world of gourmet experiences. Beyond these highlighted gems, the town brims with countless eateries, cafes, and bars, each providing a distinct taste of this mountainous wonderland.
As you walk its streets, let your senses guide you. For in Gatlinburg, every meal is not just about satiating hunger; it’s about relishing a rich tapestry of flavors, memories, and moments. Bon appétit!