When we are in town, we always ask the people behind the counter where they eat. Or, where would they go if they want a good burger.
Some of the best restuarants we have found have very odd hours. So, call before you go.
Delauders BBQ (Gatlinburg)
Barbecue joints are meant to be holes in the wall. Sure, you’ve got a couple of high-enders like Calhoun’s which has built an empire on smoked meat, but by and large, the best barbecue you will ever have in your life comes from places that invest in smokers and meat, not decorations and seats.
Listen, you want an authentic Tennessee experience to go back and tell your friends at home? Go to Delauders, get the Holy Bologna Sandwich or the Sneaky Pig with sweet habanero sauce and thank me later
Bigfoot Cheese Steaks
There is a small gray cart between a winery and Tennessee Shine on Wears Valley Road. We got the best burger there. The owner Kevin tries to keep the meats authentic and buys only the best. You won’t be dissapointed. While we waited, we played some corn hole. There is also a fire pit.
Chubby’s Deli Restaurant (Sevierville)
This one is right outside of Pigeon Forge.
Chubby’s is located in a Citgo on Newport Highway in Sevierville. Meatloaf and two sides, taters and gravy and fried okra for $8 includes bread. This is the authentic art of simple Southern dining that has been swallowed up by the usurpers and the pretenders. Go to Chubby’s and go home happy.
Paw Paw’s Catfish Kitchen (Wears Valley)
You want authentic Cajun cuisine? Maybe some red beans and rice? Sure you might find it in some fancy place down in New Orleans or maybe some high-end joint in Atlanta.
But if you want real Cajun cooking, start looking for the places off the beaten map. The restaurant is on the right of Wears Valley Road as you go out of town. It looks like a little single wide trailer up a little hill.
They have a sample plate, two boudin balls, one crab cake, four fish nuggets and four gator bites and you’ll be talking like a Swamp People cast member in no time.
The holy trinity of gumbo, Jambalaya and etouffee are all accounted for but – as our No. 1 rule of dining states: If you’re in a place with a particular food in its name, you must eat that food. In other words, get you some good fish, son. And don’t forget the hush puppies.
Monster Mash Burgers (Sevierville)
Located in a strip mall next to a TJ Maxx, Monster Mash is a burger joint that works a dark alchemy in the pursuit of the best burgers.
Like a plain ordinary burger, maybe a pickle, a slice of cheese? This isn’t the place for you.
Leaning into the Monster Mash theme, these are unholy amalgamations that seem wrong on the menu and oh so right on the plate.
My recommendation? Try the 14-lb Frankenstein for $50. It feeds 4-6 people but if two of you can take it down, along with bacon, chili, sausages, etc. and a bowl of fries in an hour, that sucker is free.
It’s fun for the whole family and at least two of the seven deadly sins right there at the table.
Located in what can accurately be called a shack and some kind of building beside it, Preacher’s is owned and operated by a man named Sam Steele, a pastor who opened a restaurant with his wife, Kathy.
This small hole in the wall is the kind of place you remember for the rest of your life and tell wistful stories about. Pork, chicken, burnt ends, brisket, it’s all good.
I recommend the three meat combo dish but, I mean, close your eyes and point at the chalkboard menu. You’re gonna get something good. The stew is awesome.
Tennessee Jed’s (Gatlinburg)
You had me at craft sandwiches.
Located between God’s World Religious Goods Store and a Claire’s Boutique, Tennessee Jed’s is likely the best place you’ll ever eat that directly abuts a Dollar General Store. There’s just something about a perfectly made sandwich.
I love a Rueben, a ham and Swiss, my favorite is probably the Cubano but there are no bad choices. Tennessee Jed’s also does some serious breakfast sandwiches.
If you’re in Gatlinburg and the line at the Pancake Pantry is too long, walk across the street and grab a coffee and a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich from Jed’s. And go ahead and try the brown butter mini cake for dessert.
Lil Black Bear Café (Pigeon Forge)
If you’re looking for something small, out of the way and delicious, you can’t do better than the Lil’ Black Bear Café.
Open from 8 am to 2 pm, the café does breakfast and lunch only. They offer soups, salads and sandwiches, as well as the best coffee. All of which are made to order.
The menu isn’t complicated but it doesn’t have to be. The sausage, egg and cheese sandwich on the breakfast menu is the food of the gods. And you could do a lot worse than the patty melt for lunch.
Excerps taken from an editorial on Smokies.com By John Gullion