Trotter’s BBQ-Sevierville

9 Smoky Mountain Towns with Good Eats: Delicious Local Cuisine and BBQ Joints

The Smoky Mountains scenery provides a feast for the eyes, but the real feast is waiting for you through the small towns that serve up unique Appalachian foods with BBQ joints from fancy to sticky-finger feasts.

In fact, all three meals of the day (and most snacks) are a piece of history, pride, and recipes passed down through generations. That means a brilliant feast for the belly with a touch of Appalachian classics, Southern dishes, and hearty portions as big as Dolly Parton’s… hometown pride.

We’ve tasted our way through the Smokies to find the best local cuisine and BBQ joints for your next Smoky Mountain adventure.

Biscuit Head-Ashville
Biscuit Head | photo via

Best Smoky Mountain Eats in Asheville, NC

Asheville anchors the eastern edge of the Smokies. As the largest Smoky Mountain town in North Carolina, the food scene is strong.

Biscuit Head

They had us at the tagline “Put Some South in Your Mouth.” This is the go-to breakfast spot where biscuits reign and sandwiches come with creative names. Southern classics like bologna, pimento cheese, and fried green tomatoes fill the menu.

The Nutella Elvis Biscuit pays homage to the King’s love of peanut butter and bananas. The Filthy Animal biscuit stacked with fried chicken, bacon, poached egg, and pickled green tomatoes all doused in gravy made us holler for more.

12 Bones Smokehouse

This barbecue joint is artsier than you might expect, making the long line a little easier to stomach. They don’t take reservations or get political when it comes to the best BBQ varieties–they’ll cook them all.

Speaking of politics, one presidential family has eaten here three times, even ordering to-go items handed to the Secret Service at the back door.

Try the tasty rib sauce with chipotle and blueberries.

Buxton Hall Barbecue

This Asheville restaurant seems to have the magic touch when it comes to meat. Designed as a palace to embrace North Carolina traditions, like whole hog barbecue, and mix it with modern trends, Buxton Hall is known for “New South” cooking.

Add Southern classics like cornbread, coleslaw, and hushpuppies to the pork portion. Buxton Hall has also winged its way into the fried chicken circuit with a sandwich Bon Appetit ranked as the best of 2016.

Best Smoky Mountain Eats in Bryson City, NC

Bryson City is a small town with a big appetite for outdoor adventures near one of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park entrances.

River’s End Restaurant

When a restaurant feeds the hungry hikers of the Appalachian Trail or is connected to an outfitter behemoth like the Nantahala Outdoor Center, you know the food will be big and generous. Get ready to gorge near this famous gorge with meals served from first light to nightfall.

Each table has an epic view of the river, and the menu goes from a fancy charcuterie board to smoked salmon dishes on the appetizer, soup, and dinner menu.

TRAVEL TIP: Enjoy Southern cooking and BBQ on the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad, departing from Bryson City. Breakfast and lunch menus are available for first-class passengers.

High Test Deli

Not much about this restaurant meets the requirements of this article, but everything about it puts it right back on our list. With a tagline of “Let R Deli Fill Yer Belly,” we’re intrigued, but the accolades of best sandwiches in North Carolina (a regular sandwich AND the ice cream sandwich) brought us through the doors. Wait until you try the Cuban.

Save room for dessert. Those ice cream sandwiches are 4”x4,” and almost every review says, “Best one I’ve ever tasted.”

Finally, Bryson City is known for its evolving food truck scene. The outfitters and entertainment areas regularly have food trucks from Asian fusion to traditional BBQ.

12 Bones Smokehouse-Ashville
12 Bones Smokehouse | photo via slizzyp

Best Smoky Mountain Eats in Cherokee, NC

A drive through the Smokies on Newfound Gap Road takes you right into this charming town. There’s one place you should put in your meal rotation.

Granny’s Kitchen

Start your day with the breakfast buffet or cap a Smokies adventure with the dinner spread. The menu changes daily, and you’ll have enough options to feed your appetite during any meal of the day.

Menus are available on the website so that you can plan ahead for your favorite Southern dish.

Best Smoky Mountain Eats in Gatlinburg, TN

We don’t want to start a restaurant war because we know there’s no bad meal in the Gateway to the Smokies. These are just some of our favorites.

Crockett’s Breakfast Camp

The tradition of feeding hungry travelers hearty meals to start the day goes back almost 150 years at Crockett’s Breakfast Camp.

The cinnamon rolls are large enough to be a whole meal, and each pancake is at least an inch thick. Skillets are stacked for “Hungry Hunters,” while most meals come with the Cherokee classic corn pone.

The best part? Crockett’s offers a waitlist to get you seated and stuffed quickly.

Pancake Pantry

If you can’t find a variety of pancakes among the two dozen options at the Pancake Pantry, do you even like pancakes? This Gatlinburg gathering spot has been welcoming guests and locals since 1961. There’s a lunch menu with a stack of international sandwich choices.

Here’s a timing tip – avoid the after-church crowd on Sundays, as that’s when the line is the longest.

Bones BBQ Joint

No bones about it–this Gatlinburg joint knows how to make good barbecue, whether you’re from Texas, Memphis, or East Carolina. It’s not easy to be in the middle of the BBQ wars, but Bones BBQ Joint makes everyone happy with ribs, brisket, and whole hogs to make every regional fan squeal.

Does it taste good? There are eight generations behind the kitchen, so you know this is as down-home as the Smokies get!

DeLauder’s BBQ

BBQ aficionados know the simple joints serve the best food, and that’s what you get at DeLauder’s BBQ, a local favorite. This is the kind of place where they close down when the fresh food sells out. They dish out every meat and make of BBQ, so we recommend you try the sampler.

Best Smoky Mountain Eats in Maggie Valley, NC

As the closest town to Cataloochee Valley, Maggie Valley offers robust meals for all appetites.

Joey’s Pancake House

This is the hot spot for hotcakes fresh off the griddle. It ranks as one of the best pancake houses in both Carolinas. Aside from the pancakes, waffles, omelets, and breakfast sandwiches, you can often spot an elk outside.

Fat Buddies Ribs & BBQ

This family affair started several generations ago when tough times meant cooking roadkill. The treasured cooking methods now make some of the finest ribs, pork, fried chicken, and brisket on this side of the Mason-Dixon line.

Try the black-eyed pea stew as a starter, or add some veggies with the fried green beans or pickles. Rib lovers must try the “Rack Attack.”

Pop’s Butts on the Creek

We recommend looking at this menu in advance because our scout needed a few more minutes to choose from the mouth-watering menu. From fried corn on the cob to burnt-end sandwiches to bread pudding or cobblers for dessert, you’ll feel like you’re at a family BBQ in this classic joint. They also promise food served fast so you can grab and go.

Trotter’s BBQ-Sevierville
Trotter’s BBQ | photo via knoxfoodie

Best Smoky Mountain Eats in Pigeon Forge, TN

Picking favorites in Pigeon Forge isn’t easy, especially when there are so many authentic options serving a mix of regional classics with down-home kitchen vibes.

Huck Finn’s

When you really want to know if a place serves traditional Southern food, look for chicken livers on the menu. Hick Finn’s also threatens with a good time of “Y’all Better Come Hungry.”

This makes our list because of the all-you-can-eat dinners of chicken, catfish, and “vittles” (aka sides). Another ranking factor is the unique menu items, like frog legs and alligator mixed with fried chicken, shrimp, and fried clams.

Old Mill

When you’ve been cooking food right since 1830, you don’t mess with a good thing. You just keep expanding. The Old Mill options span a restaurant, cafe, and creamery. All the amazing breakfast through dinner Southern classics are on the menu, and the shops of Old Mill surround you. Don’t be surprised if you end up eating two meals here with all there is nearby.

Mama’s Farmhouse

Three meals are served here family style, which means all-you-can-eat without buffet lines. The servers just keep bringing you food unless you say stop. Be sure to try the award-winning biscuits that took home the blue ribbon at the International Biscuit Festival.

Boss Hogg’s BBQ Shack

All the aesthetics are put into the meat at this classic joint, doubling as a place to rent UTVs. Pick meat by the pound and add sides, or stick with your favorite meat on a sandwich. Be sure to get a photo for Instagram in the big Boss Hogg chair outside.

Applewood Farmhouse-Sevierville
Applewood Farmhouse | photo via atouchofluxurytravel

Best Smoky Mountain Eats in Sevierville, TN

Dolly Parton’s hometown knows how to cook for the masses, yet somehow makes each meal feel like it was made just for you.

Applewood Farmhouse

Every meal of the day is served here with signature dishes and the famous apple butter. From chicken fried everything to pot pies to chicken and dumplings, you must save room for the savory apple cobbler or spice cake.

Better yet? Applewood Farmhouse offers “Cabin Specials,” where you can pick up a meal to go and take it back to your cabin to feast with the family.

Trotter’s BBQ

Specializing in the Eastern Carolina whole hog barbecue, add-ons include pimento cheese, hush puppies, and creamed corn. Get the sampler platter to savor the most of the menu. One even comes with the classic Southern catfish.

Family boxes are available to go that feed up to 10 people.


This pancake palace includes several locations in the Smokies, but we love the Sievereville option because it’s away from the most intense traffic. Obviously, the pancakes are great, but the stuffed French toast, chicken, and waffles were a crowd favorite among our taste testers.

Trotter’s BBQ-Sevierville
Trotter’s BBQ | photo via knoxfoodie

Best Smoky Mountain Eats in Townsend, TN

Townsend is known as the “Peaceful Side of the Smokes,” but there are still plenty of dining choices on the quiet side.

Burger Master

Locals will call it the Chalet, but the now-named Burger Master has done just that–mastered the art of Black Angus burgers. It is a grab-and-go kind of food with picnic tables if you’d like to eat on-site.

The ice cream here is a local favorite if you need a quick sweet treat. There’s even a doggy dessert!

Little River BBQ

The building is bland, but the same can’t be said of the food or the views. Tucked alongside the Little River, the chefs believe “old-fashioned is the only way to prepare real southern BBQ.” Grab a platter or a sandwich, and try the fried okra for a Southern staple.

Apple Valley

Adventurers flock to the Smoky Mountain Outdoor Center for hikes, tubing, and cave exploration, and Apply Valley can feed them all. Pancakes sized for Papa Bear or Baby Bear kick-off breakfast, with BBQ taking over the menu for lunch and dinner. The chefs have their own secret BBQ sauce recipe.

While you’re there, allow Apple Valley to introduce you to the Appalachia tradition of fried pies.

Best Smoky Mountain Eats in Waynesville, NC

Your culinary options open up close to Maggie Valley when you consider all Waynesville offers.

Haywood Smokehouse

Brisket lovers, be prepared–Haywood claims to have the “Ultimate Beef Brisket Experience.” Turkey, chicken, and sausage are cooked to perfection, and Brunswick stew spices up the experience.

We recommend the burnt-ends baked beans. Seasonal cobblers and bourbon chocolate pecan pie are delightful for dessert.

Birchwood Hall

The sophistication of Birchwood Hall doesn’t take away from the Southern charm in the dishes. We were drawn to the catfish roll, a reinvention of the lobster roll.

Whether you want a big ribeye or pork rinds and grits, this farm-to-table fashionable eatery is a little more upscale than most others.

Smoky Mountain Dining Advice

We’ve gathered a few tips to help you enjoy your unique food stops and BBQ joints in the Smokies that much more.

  • First, most restaurants for casual food won’t take reservations. If you find one that does, make one or get on the waitlist.
  • Second, don’t let a long line deter you. Those lines move fast, and you’re surrounded by some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.
  • Finally, many restaurants offer a 4% discount for paying with cash instead of a credit card.

If you like something you sampled, most restaurants have their own cookbook or sell signature sauces so you can take the taste home.

What is your favorite Smoky Mountain restaurant experience?

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