One of the most common questions we get asked is where do we like to eat when we travel. We try and avoid national chains and eat at local places as much as possible so that we can get a real taste of where we are. But at the same time, as a family of seven with kids ranging from 5-15, we definitely take into account the average meal price since meals for 7 can add up quickly. After visiting the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area several times over the past few years, we can confidently say that these are the best places to eat in the Smokies!
Best Breakfast Buffet in the Smokies
A big thanks to Bennett’s Pit Bar-B-Que for hosting us for breakfast. We received a complimentary meal but all of my opinions are honest and my own.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and what better way to start your busy day in the Smokies, than with a hearty breakfast buffet at Bennett’s Pit Bar-B-Que. With locations in both Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, you’re never far away from the best breakfast buffet in the Smokies. And, they have pulled pork and smoked sausage on the buffet making it a great option for a late breakfast that also serves as lunch! One of our favorite ways to keep dining costs down when we’re traveling is to have a BIG breakfast at around 1030am and then we can just have an afternoon snack instead of lunch- we employ the same tactic when we’re at Disney, too!
New to the Bennett’s breakfast buffet is the Belgian waffle bar! The kids loved making their own waffles and then topping them with chocolate chips, caramel, and fruit. We have a waffle maker at home, but we don’t pull it out as often as the kids would like, nor do we have such fun toppings. Fancy waffles are a vacation treat and the ones at Bennett’s did not disappoint!
Best Pizza in the Smokies
Pizza is one of our go-to dinner choices when we’re on vacation. If you follow Love Dwells Here on Instagram, you know that Friday Night Pizza Night is a big thing at our house (and if you don’t follow us, you should!), but at home, we usually just keep it simple and get pepperoni pizza. When we’re out of town, we step up the pizza game and try new things and Big Daddy’s Pizzeria was the perfect choice for our pizza fix!
We visited the Sevierville location because it was closest to our resort, but they also have locations in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. We always order a pepperoni pizza so that we can compare across pizzerias- the crust had a nice snap and the sauce was tasty so it was already a winner in our book! We also ordered the Taco Pie (refried beans, ground beef, cheddar cheese, cooked warm and yummy, then topped with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, jalapeños and cheese sauce) and the Bee Sting (marinara, mozzarella-provolone blend, Genoa salami, and red pepper flakes baked and then topped with honey). All 3 were delicious but the Bee Sting was the clear winner with our crew!
Best Comfort Food in the Smokies
Also, thanks to The Old Mill for hosting us for a delicious dinner. We received a complimentary meal but all opinions are honest and my own.
After our amazing tour of the gristmill at The Old Mill in Pigeon Forge, we returned later in the week for dinner at the Old Mill Restaurant. They specialize in hearty, Southern comfort food, and wow, it was amazing! Dinner at the Old Mill starts with a cup of corn chowder, a house side salad and their AWESOME corn fritters with maple butter.
Entrees are served individually but the green beans and homemade mashed potatoes are served family style (and you can get more if you’re so inclined). We ordered the Southern Fried Pork Chops, Southern Country Fried Steak, Homemade Meatloaf, BBQ Country Ribs, and the Fried Gulf Shrimp, but I’m not sure that we could pick a clear favorite!
Every dinner entree also includes dessert! When we were there, the dessert choices were: blackberry cobbler à la mode, pecan pie, banana pudding, and chocolate cake. They received rave reviews from our crew and they were the perfect end to an amazing dinner.
Best Island Inspired Food in the Smokies
The Landshark Bar & Grill is part of the new Margaritaville Resort in Downtown Gatlinburg and serves up island-inspired fare every day. In addition to having Landshark on tap, they have a full bar and an extensive drink menu. We had the Hawaiian Luau Burger- complete with grilled pineapple!- and the Jerk Chicken Wrap and would definitely order both again! While Landshark doesn’t scream “mountain cuisine,” it was a nice change of pace and a delicious meal.
Best Barbecue in the Smokies
Thanks to Corky’s for hosting us for dinner; while we received a complimentary meal, all opinions are honest and my own.
We’ve been fans of Corky’s Ribs and BBQ since we first visited the original Memphis location in 2015, so we were super excited when we found out that there was a Corky’s in Pigeon Forge! Their perfectly smoked ribs are always a crowd-pleaser- Jacob likes his “dry” and Nick and Ben split a rack of “muddy” ribs. The pulled pork loaded baked potato was delicious, as always!
Ellie ordered chicken tenders but as soon as the ribs came out, she changed her mind- lucky for her, she has a nice dad! Lexie went with the barbecue chicken wings and declared them her absolute favorite wings EVER!
Best Breakfast in the Smokies
On the main drag of Gatlinburg, Crockett’s Breakfast Camp is one of our favorite restaurants and we go for breakfast each and every time we’re in town! After spending several hours driving the Cades Cove Loop, the kids were starving so we headed over to Crockett’s for a late breakfast. We arrived a little after 11 and didn’t have to wait long for a table, which was a nice change of pace– normally we get there around 9am and have an hour(ish) wait! Crockett’s Breakfast Camp is known for their griddle cakes; they’re easily an inch thick and oh, so delicious!
My absolute favorite breakfast at Crockett’s Breakfast Camp: Grandma Hattie’s French Toast topped with bananas and brown sugar. OMG, this is the stuff dreams are made of!
Best Donuts in the Smokies
Tucked away in The Village Shops in Downtown Gatlinburg, is a tiny shop serving the best donuts around. The Donut Friar, a Gatlinburg institution, makes the most delicious donuts and pastries fresh each and every morning and opens daily at 5am. We lucked out and arrived just as a large group was leaving so we had the place to ourselves for a bit. During peak season, the line snakes out the door with people waiting for a taste of their amazing donuts and world-famous cinnamon bread.
If you go early (before 9am) it’s free to park on the Parkway, and you stand a much better chance of being greeted by a full display case of treats before they start to sell out of the most popular flavors. The donuts really are worth getting up early and making a special trip into Gatlinburg to grab a dozen and then enjoying them in the comfort of your resort or cabin!
There are so many choices when it comes to restaurants in the Smokies and while we haven’t tried them all (or even close to it!) these have been some of our favorites thus far! We hope that you’ll check them out– and let us know what you think when you do!
Do you have any favorites in the Smokies? Recommendations for places we should check out on our next trip??