Just as you reach the trail’s end, where a majestic waterfall splashes over slippery little red salamanders, your stomach starts to rumble. As you spot the parking lot past the trailhead, you wonder how many hours it’s been since breakfast. The moment you finish taking a sip of water and buckling up in the driver’s seat, you eagerly ask your family, “So what are we feeling for lunch in Pigeon Forge?”
While you could never get enough of the enchanting beauty of forested trails and refreshing mountain streams, a long hike is guaranteed to work up a hefty appetite. Don’t wait until everyone is too “hangry” to debate where to grab a bite. Instead, start your Smoky Mountain adventures with an idea of which Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg restaurants you’d like to try during your stay. While there are countless excellent dining options in the area, we’ll look at a handful of our favorite joints, including where to go for the best pizza in Gatlinburg and the best BBQ in Pigeon Forge!
Solving Problems With the Best Pizza in Gatlinburg
“Where do you want to eat?” is an age-old debate that always comes up and never seems to have a solution – not when more than one person is involved. That said, the Italians have somehow accomplished the impossible. They have found a simple yet delicious answer to this question that likely pre-dates the Stone Age: pizza. Very few would oppose a loaded pie still hot and fresh from the oven. After all, doughy crusts, savory-sweet tomato sauce, and rich melted cheese are the tried-and-true ingredients of godliness. If you’re looking for the best pizza in Gatlinburg, these restaurants should be at the top of your list!
Pizza is no casual affair at Big Daddy’s Pizzeria, where a 550°F wood-fired brick oven roasts your pie of choice to crispy, gooey perfection. All their pizzas are descended from a common ancestor: an original dough recipe à la Neapolitan, topped with homemade sauce. From there, you get to choose which of over 30 fresh ingredients get thrown on top. If that feels like too much responsibility, no problem! Their Classic and Specialty pies relieve you of guesswork with recipes like the Smoky Mountain Cheesesteak (steak, peppers, and onions, with an alfredo base), Porky Pie (roast pork, bacon, black forest ham, and Italian sausage, doused in BBQ sauce), and Taco Pie (refried beans, ground beef, lettuce, tomato, and jalapeños).
Swing by Big Daddy’s Pizzeria while in Gatlinburg, or find their other two locations in Pigeon Forge and Sevierville. You know their pizza is guaranteed to be made fresh on-site every day because they don’t even own a freezer!
Perhaps everyone seems tired after the outdoor adventures, and the consensus is to take a siesta back at the hotel. In this case, Geno’s Pizza has you covered for lunch. Besides, you can get your pie from Geno’s delivered directly to your hotel room! Once you smell fresh-baked dough and sizzling pepperonis, you’ll know your medium, large or extra-large pizza has arrived. Complement your slice with a sub or salad, or order a shareable platter of hot wings or bread sticks made with cheese, garlic, cinnamon, or chocolate. Geno’s Pizza is quick and convenient, without skimping on tastiness, and boasts locations nearby in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Kodak!
Firing Up the Best BBQ in Pigeon Forge
For such an unassuming substance, glucose can have a surprising influence on our mood. After a long morning of hiking, swimming, or perusing the shops, keep your party in soaring spirits with a hickory wood-fired lunch in Pigeon Forge. Classic Tennessee barbecue is a delicacy guaranteed to put any true Southerner into a phenomenal mood. If you’re not from the South, you’ll soon learn why at these restaurants serving the best BBQ in Pigeon Forge!
If you’re looking for authentic Tennessee barbecue, plan for a pit stop at Bennett’s Pit Bar-B-Que. After about 30 years in business, the grill masters at Bennett’s have perfected the art of hickory smoking pork ribs, chicken, beef brisket, and more for 14 hours at a time. Stop by for lunch or dinner or grab a family feast to-go of barbecue sandwiches, burgers, or platters. Burnt ends, the Texan Sampler of five different smoked meats, and deep-fried deviled eggs are just a few highlights from their menu. Make sure to bring your carnivorous friends and your appetite!
The diversity of food options at Wood Grill Buffet makes this family-style restaurant a no-brainer for lunch in Pigeon Forge. The meat-lovers of the group will be excited to hear about the hickory wood-grilled steaks, rotisserie and fried chicken options, carved ham, and roast beef. Plus, the oak-smoked baby back and spare ribs come straight from the 4,000-pound smoker, ready to melt off the bone into your hungry jaws. The buffet table also serves hot and fresh Asian, Italian, American, and Southwestern-inspired entrées, complementing the potato bar, salad bar, bread bar, and desserts of cobblers and cakes. There’s guaranteed to be something appealing to even the pickiest eater at Wood Grill Buffet!
Nourishing Decadence for the Health-Conscious
People often say that you’re allowed to indulge in all those oh-so-good but oh-so-bad-for-you foods when you’re on vacation. Let’s be honest – they’re not wrong! Although, what if we told you that you could spoil your taste buds while also eating healthy on vacation? Believe it! If you’re hoping to stay on track with your fitness goals, these health-conscious restaurants of the Smokies prove that you can, in fact, have the best of both worlds.
Healthy Balance Meals makes keeping to your nutrition plan easy while on vacation. They feature options for dine-in, take-out, and even bulk and frozen entrées to-go for when you’re staying for an extended time. Their menu is comprised of salads, like the strawberry spinach chicken salad, and sandwiches, such as the French dip with Angus roast beef, swiss cheese, and sautéed onions. You could also go for a melt-in-your-mouth panini like the turkey pesto caprese or a satiating wrap like the Tex-Mex-inspired fajita wrap. Plus, whoever said burgers are unhealthy has never tried one from Healthy Balance Meals. Head over to their website to download the nutritional info pdf if you track your calories and macros.
Do you fall head-over-heels in love with every slab of meat you ever encounter? Does it break your heart that barbecue maybe isn’t the healthiest choice? Before you let a single tear fall, J.O.E. and Pop’s Sub Shoppe will be there to save the day! This Gatlinburg restaurant specializes in subs stuffed with all the meats and toppings your heart desires, such as cheesesteaks, Reubens and hot dogs. Even healthier offerings include the Club Sub, loaded with turkey, ham, bacon, and white American cheese, and the Grilled Chicken Sub, served with lettuce, tomato, and onion. The best part of all, there’s also the option to create your own sub to meet your specific dietary needs.
Mealtimes don’t have to be an ever-unsolvable riddle, nor do they have to become a point of contention among the group. They also don’t have to be a source of guilt for your self-care or enjoyment. Between artisanal pizza, hickory-smoked barbecue, and healthy sandwiches packed with your favorite toppings, your lunch in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg will leave everyone feeling satiated and happy once more. As soon as the last bite hits the spot, suddenly, you’ll be filled with a desire to delay no further and get right back out there on the breathtaking Smoky Mountain trails!
Content on this page is subject to change. Please contact the locations mentioned to see if promotions, hours, pricing, etc. are still valid.
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