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Where to Eat and Drink Near Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The 21 essential restaurants near the park, from pickle-brined fried chicken sandwiches in Knoxville to kimchi brats at an Asheville sake brewery.

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Spanning a swath of mighty mountains along the North Carolina-Tennessee border and bisected by the Appalachian Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park reigns as America’s most visited national park — by far. Its guest count, topping 12 million in 2020, was more than three times that of the runner-up, Yellowstone. While the park itself lacks dining options beyond hiking snacks from the gift store, you don’t need to drive far to find a hearty breakfast, steak dinner, barbecue platter, or brewery patio.

The park’s location puts it at the nexus of Southern barbecue and Appalachian cooking traditions. In towns and cities on both sides of the park, such as Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Knoxville, and Asheville, chefs have a bounty of local ingredients to cull from and prepare dishes both contemporary and deeply classic. From fried cinnamon rolls by the fire to IPAs with a side of Cajun pork rinds, these are the best restaurants and bars near Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Note: The inclusion of restaurants offering dine-in service should not be taken as an endorsement for dining inside. Studies indicate a lower exposure risk to COVID-19 outdoors, but the level of risk is contingent on social distancing and other safety guidelines. Check with each restaurant for up-to-date information on dining offerings. For updated information on coronavirus cases in the area, please check each state’s COVID-19 response site. (Go here for Tennessee, and here for North Carolina.)

An RV enthusiast and freelance travel writer, Matt Kirouac is the co-founder and co-host of Hello Ranger, a national parks community blog and podcast.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Emilia

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16 Market Square
Knoxville, TN 37902
(865) 313-2472
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You’ll need to load up on carbs before summiting Clingmans Dome, and there’s no better place to do that than at downtown Knoxville’s dashing Emilia. The Italian restaurant, serving cuisine inspired by the Emilia-Romagna region, has a lot of the requisite Italian decor: brick walls, rows of wine bottles behind the bar, and oversized cans of tomato sauce doubling as decoration. But this warm retreat eschews red sauce Americana in favor of a more delicate, refined approach to pastas and entrees. Look for lightly fried baby artichoke fritters brightened with lemon-caper aioli, warm house-pulled burrata with roasted local squash, and Springer Mountain Farms chicken cooked under a brick until crispy and served with oregano pan sauce and salsa verde. The house specialty, though, is the pasta. It’s all made in house and served in ever-changing variations, like campanelle with roasted mushrooms and broccolini in a pine nut-mushroom broth, or fusilli carbonara with a poached Windy Acres Farm egg and toothsome bacon from Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Ham.

A metal tray holding thick slices of bread next to a wooden bowl of ricotta topped with olive oil
Focaccia with Cruze Farm ricotta
beall + thomas photography

2. OliBea

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211 S Central St
Knoxville, TN 37902
(865) 200-5450
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A breakfast mainstay in the trendy Old City neighborhood of Knoxville, where centuries-old factory buildings are seeing new life as art galleries and saloons, OliBea is as pleasing to the eye as it is to the palate. The sunny space, with hardwood floors and featuring local art, provides a relaxed environment in which to linger with locally roasted coffee and locally sourced ham and eggs. Biscuits are a popular staple, available by themselves, in Benedicts, sandwiched on pickle-brined fried chicken, or heaped with sausage, cheddar, scrambled eggs, and serrano jam.

3. Bistro at the Bijou

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807 S Gay St
Knoxville, TN 37902
(865) 544-0537
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An hour northwest of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Knoxville offers a good mix of the old guard and the new upstarts. Bistro at the Bijou is like a bridge between them: It’s a swanky haven in one of the city’s most historic buildings, located next door to the ornate Bijou Theatre. The restaurant feels sophisticated and regal, thanks largely to the building’s Renaissance-style architecture, stained glass windows, and art that hangs in the dining room. But the bistro maintains a casual air, thanks to owner Martha Boggs, a Tennessee native who aims for a welcoming, watering-hole atmosphere and a farm-to-table approach. The bill of fare includes fried okra Caesar salad, bourbon-glazed pork loin, and fried bologna Benedicts on buttery biscuits. The cocktails are frequently as seasonal as the food menu, with variations like strawberry mojitos and lavender-blueberry spritzes.

Grilled salmon and sweat potatoes sit atop a bed of succotash made with various summer vegetables and lima beans. A spring of bright green dill garnishes the dish.
Grilled salmon from Bistro at the Bijou
Matt Kirouac/Eater

4. Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant

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240 Apple Valley Rd
Sevierville, TN 37862
(865) 428-1222
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With a legacy dating back almost a century, Applewood Farmhouse reigns as Sevierville’s oldest independent restaurant. It’s in a historic barn building amid rows of apple trees, so naturally, apples are front and center in offerings like apple juleps, apple-cinnamon muffins, and apple fritters. Meanwhile, Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant and Applewood Farmhouse Grill, two adjacent all-day restaurants created to meet customer demand, peddle mountain-friendly fare like ham biscuits, chicken and dumplings, and crispy chicken livers with cream gravy. Nestled on vast acreage of fruitful farmland, the farmhouses-turned-restaurants have earned their reputation as pastoral fantasy spots.

5. Five Oaks Farm Kitchen

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1638 Parkway
Sevierville, TN 37862
(865) 365-1008
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About 45 minutes north of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Sevierville is quieter and less touristy than Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. It’s also a town with a rich, longstanding agricultural legacy, which lives on at Five Oaks Farm Kitchen. The grounds outside the restaurant are garnished with tractors and trucks, while the interior of the enormous farmhouse dining room features lofty ceilings, wooden chandeliers, and communal picnic tables. In the morning, breakfast means fried pork chops smothered in sausage gravy and eggs scrambled with pecan-smoked bacon. Lunch and dinner take advantage of the adjoining smokehouse for barbecue-focused fare, such as hickory-smoked chicken and prime rib of beef with grated horseradish mustard and au jus.

6. The Wildflour Bakehouse

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240 Forks of the River Pkwy
Sevierville, TN 37862
(865) 365-1295
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This modest bakery may be light on decor — just a few simple tables in a stark strip mall storefront — but the pastry counter is big on flavor. It’s run by Stephany Houston, a pastry chef who formerly worked at nearby Dollywood. Her specialty is oversized and doughy cinnamon rolls, while other treats include fragrant cinnamon bread, banana pudding, thick slices of oatmeal cake, apple slab pie, and cheesecake parfaits. There are savory options too, like ham salad and soups, but the stars are the sweets.

A pan of freshly baked cinnamon bread, topped with a crumbly mixture of cinnamon and sugar.
The cinnamon bread is Wildflour’s most popular item
Wildflour Bakehouse/Official Website

7. Graze Burgers

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125 Bruce St
Sevierville, TN 37862
(865) 366-3775
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It’s all about grass-fed beef and boozy shakes at this casual downtown joint, nestled inside an airy, brick-lined space that feels like an elongated garage. Starters and sides tick off Southern comfort boxes, with snacks like fried green tomatoes and pimento cheese, but the stars are the burgers, stacked on brioche buns with toppings like bacon jam, bourbon-caramelized onions, corn salsa, and beef chili. Non-beef options include a bison burger, a fried chicken sandwich, and a smoked salmon sandwich with lemon dill sauce. To drink, the full bar specializes in bourbon and whiskey along with simple cocktails, but after dinner enjoy one of the spiked shakes. They’re boozy desserts in a glass: The Cobbler contains fresh blueberries, graham cracker crumbs, and Tito’s vodka, while the Boozy S’mores conjures campfire flavors with marshmallow vodka, chocolate syrup, and graham crackers. 

A tray with a large hot dog topped with chili and cheese, next to a cast iron tray of mac and cheese, beside other burgers, sandwiches, and drinks on a wooden table
Trailer Park hot dog with beef chili and mac & cheese
Spothopper

8. The Appalachian

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133 Bruce St
Sevierville, TN 37862
(865) 505-0245
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A new addition to the Sevierville dining scene offers a modern approach to traditional Appalachian flavors and recipes, courtesy of Tennessee native David Rule. Sourcing ingredients from local purveyors like Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Ham, Heritage Farms Cheshire Pork, and Cruze Farm Dairy, the chef and co-owner does most of his cooking over a wood-fired hearth, churning out dishes like Buffalo frog legs, rainbow trout with grilled strawberries, smoked squash soup, hanger steak with smoked fingerling potatoes, and pan-roasted chicken with ham hock lima beans. For dessert, there’s Coca-Cola cake a la mode, with a sprinkling of candied pecans for crunch. A far cry from the barn-sized restaurants of Gatlinburg, the space echoes the kitchen’s modern cuisine with a polished, intimate vibe.

9. Big Daddy's Pizzeria

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714 River Rd
Gatlinburg, TN 37738
(865) 436-5455
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Despite the campy decor and stereotypical Italian photos that make the place look like an Epcot version of a Neapolitan pizzeria, Big Daddy’s is the real deal. With three locations on the western side of the Great Smoky Mountains, including this Gatlinburg branch that’s mere minutes from the park, this is a pizzeria that feels touristy but exceeds expectations. Wood-fired brick oven pies are stretched thin and cooked quickly to achieve a delicately crispy thin crust before they’re strewn with toppings like meatballs, Genoa salami, sweet barbecue sauce, and shaved prime rib. You can’t go wrong with a classic margherita either, or the fantastic appetizers, like wood-fired wings and wood-baked soft pretzels with fonduelike cheese sauce. 

A full pizza pie, tilted to reveal toppings, sitting in a woodfired oven. The pizza is topped with sliced mushrooms and sliced onions
Pizza fresh from the fire
Big Daddy’s Pizzeria [Official]

10. Crockett's Breakfast Camp

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1103 Parkway
Gatlinburg, TN 37738
(865) 325-1403
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A day on the trail requires a hearty morning meal, and few places in Gatlinburg fit the bill quite like Crockett’s Breakfast Camp, named in honor of local frontiersman David C. “Crockett” Maples, who developed regional renown offering home-cooked breakfasts to travelers. His spirit lives on in this sprawling cabin-style brunch restaurant with a lot to look at — whiskey barrels, stone fireplaces, canoes, and a giant wooden statue of Crockett himself greeting you at the door. Savory, robust rations like biscuit sandwiches, corned beef hash, and country fried steak come with a side of sweet corn pone, while more indulgent options include fried cinnamon rolls, pecan-studded waffles, and fluffy buckwheat pancakes flecked with granola and bananas.

11. Flapjack's Pancake Cabin

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478 E. Parkway, US-321
Gatlinburg, TN 37738
(865) 430-3966
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Another breakfast institution in the area, Flapjack’s Pancake Cabin is a Tennessee mini-chain with a half dozen locations around the Smokies, all housed in literal wooden cabins. The Pigeon Forge location, right on the main U.S. 441 corridor that enters the national park from the northwest, is convenient for pregaming before a hike. Sure, you could feast on chicken fried steak or chicken biscuit skillets, but there’s no better way to fuel up for a day in the mountains than with a plate of bear cakes — bear-shaped smiley-face pancakes with a chocolate syrup smile and chocolate chip eyes. Or, if you’d rather not order off the kids’ menu, other pancake options range from cinnamon-swirled sticky bun pancakes with cream cheese icing to multigrain pancakes spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg.

Pancakes of various sizes stacked and decorated with chocolate syrup to resemble a bear’s head
Bear cakes
Flapjack’s Pancake Cabin [Official]

12. The Greenbrier Restaurant

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370 Newman Rd
Gatlinburg, TN 37738
(865) 412-1576
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Tucked into lush, forested mountainside at the edge of Gatlinburg — the park’s main entry point — the Greenbrier has the look and feel of a quintessential national park restaurant. The stone structure is perched on a bucolic ridge and decked out with dark wood floors, a roaring outdoor fire pit, alfresco rocking chairs, and plenty of requisite taxidermy. The steak-centric menu, led by executive chef Aaron Ward, leans on local farms for produce and meats, which are dry-aged in house. Plates include fried pickled okra, duck breast with orange marmalade bourbon sauce, stuffed acorn squash brimming with wild mushrooms and farro, and a 22-ounce porterhouse seasoned simply with cracked pepper and Himalayan salt. Wash it all down with a pour from the ample whiskey list or a bottle from the lengthy wine list.

13. The Everett Hotel

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16 Everett St
Bryson City, NC 28713
(828) 488-1976
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Just 13 miles southeast of the park, the Everett Hotel & Bistro in charming Bryson City feels (and tastes) like an upgraded campground cookout. The warm, rustic decor is outfitted with polished wood paneling, candelabras, landscape portraits, and antlers. It looks like an upscale mess hall, albeit a mess hall with a full bar and leather chairs. Ingredients are sourced as locally as possible, and the house specialty is trout, available as trout cakes with remoulade, or pan-seared in a cornmeal crust with red quinoa and baby spinach. Other Southern-tinged specialties, all of which are available for takeout, include she crab soup, grilled Springer Mountain Farms chicken with fig chutney and prosciutto, and the open-range meatloaf, a carnivorous feast made with four locally sourced meats: Creekstone beef, Durham Ranch bison, Border Springs lamb, and K&B Meat’s pork sausage. The Bistro also has breakfast (complimentary for hotel guests) and a drink list emphasizing wine and North Carolina beer.

A filet of trout served alongside sautéed vegetables and wild rice
The Everett’s excellent rainbow trout
The Everett Hotel/Provided

14. Haywood Smokehouse

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403 Haywood Rd
Dillsboro, NC 28725
(828) 631-9797
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On the eastern side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, in North Carolina, barbecue is king. Find it at institutions like Haywood Smokehouse, a nondescript roadside haunt with humble decor, a barnlike dining room, and a giant pair of bull horns over the front door. Whether you’re dining inside or out on the wood deck, barbecue comes heaped unceremoniously on paper-lined trays, from chopped pork and sliced brisket to smoked chicken and spicy andouille sausage links. Sandwiches include the Fine Swine, a chopped-pork behemoth topped with provolone and collard greens, and the Texas Melt, a kind of quasi-cheesesteak that layers sliced brisket with grilled onions, peppers, mushrooms, and provolone on your choice of bun or toast. Haywood also has locations in Waynesville and Franklin, but the Dillsboro outpost, a mere 17 miles southeast of the park, is the most convenient stopover.

A paper-lined tray with piles of chopped sausage, ribs, pulled pork, and meatloaf
Mixed meats
GM Long, Jr

15. Vivian

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348 Depot St Ste 190
Asheville, NC 28801
(828) 225-3497
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What started as a pop-up out of Burial Beer Co. in 2015 has evolved into a full-fledged homage to alluring European bistros. Husband-wife duo Josiah and Shannon McGaughey oversee this cozy, casual River Arts District restaurant, where the vibe is as comfortable and relaxed as the presentation of Josiah’s cooking, inspired equally by European kitchens and regional Southern ingredients. For those eating in Vivian’s dining room, the ever-changing menu of shareable snacks and mains runs the gamut: smoked-fish deviled eggs, pan-seared North Carolina flounder with buttery and herbal sauce printanière, duck and lamb kebabs with roasted sunchokes, and soufflé omelets with crab Newburg. During the pandemic, they also started a program called Vivian at Home for curbside takeout, and amped up their open-air patio with alfresco tables. Wine, beer, and cocktails, including a few mixed drinks available for takeout, anchor the bar program.

A plate of steak and mashed potatoes, covered in sauce, on a wooden counter beside a pot of flowers
Steak dinner
Jason B James

16. Ben's Tune Up

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195 Hilliard Ave
Asheville, NC 28801
(828) 424-7580
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Proof that Asheville’s beverage scene goes far beyond beer, Ben’s Tune Up is the city’s first sake brewery, using 100 percent American rice and mountain water to create its creamy elixirs. Staying on brand with Asheville’s penchant for garage spaces, Ben’s is inside a former auto shop, with an abundant beer garden and on-site takeout window slinging sake-friendly snacks like dumplings, egg rolls, and kimchi brats. Unpasteurized sake is served cold on draft, including fruit-infused versions like pineapple-jalapeno and blueberry-lime.

A colorful carafe, a cocktail with a bright purple drink, and a small sake cup garnished with a pineapple wedge, on a wooden counter
Sake carafe and cocktails
Ben’s Tune Up [Official]

17. Wicked Weed Funkatorium

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147 Coxe Ave
Asheville, NC 28801

Less than 40 miles east of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Asheville is the main food destination on the North Carolina side. It’s also the ultimate beer haven, with more breweries per capita than almost anywhere in the country. Start barhopping at the sour-focused Funkatorium, an offshoot of mainstay Wicked Weed brewery. The modern garagelike taproom, located in the city’s brewery-saturated South Slope neighborhood, offers a sprawling beer garden lined with planters, murals, and picnic tables. Rotating draft selections, such as the Genesis tropical blonde sour and the Silencio bourbon-barrel-aged black sour with coffee and vanilla, constantly push the boundaries of sour beer. The Funkatorium is also a full-service restaurant with salads, sandwiches, and crunchy Roman-style pizzas.

18. Antidote at Chemist Spirits

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151 Coxe Ave
Asheville, NC 28801
(828) 263-6943
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A stark departure from the garagelike breweries dotting South Slope, Antidote is a gilded cocktail bar that looks more like the Clue mansion than a drinking destination. Owned by the local distiller Chemist Spirits, it’s a three-story beauty filled with cozy nooks in which to sip on bracing drinks, many of them gin-centric. Order at the bar on the first floor, then find a cranny or fireside chaise to nurse your barrel-aged gin Old Fashioned or chocolate orange Negroni. While there’s no kitchen, snacks are sourced locally, including charcuterie boxes from South Slope Cheese Co. and chocolates from French Broad Chocolate.

19. Burial Beer Co.

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40 Collier Ave
Asheville, NC 28801
(828) 475-2739
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Housed in an endearingly austere space, Burial Beer Co.’s main taproom looks like a repair shop that’s been retrofitted with barrels and twinkling lights. But it’s also one of the most exciting and inventive breweries in South Slope, offering a vast and varied selection of styles. IPAs typically occupy a lot of space on the draft lines, in multiple variations and flavor profiles, like fruit-forward triple IPAs and oat-based imperials. There are also dark lagers, doppelbocks, stouts, sours, and a full food menu that raises the bar on brewery snacks. Cajun pork rinds come with shrimp butter, za’atar-spiced baby radishes are dunked in golden beet hummus, and chorizo, glazed with honey and red wine, gets a pungent punch from paprika aioli, roasted potatoes, piquillo peppers, and grilled bread. On warm days, the yard provides plenty of picnic table space for post-hike drinking.

A hand pours a beer can into three glasses that overflow over the railing they’re sitting on, beside another full can of the same beer with a decorative label
Philosophical Ideologies of Moralistic Indignation Double IPA
Burial Beer Co. [Official]

20. Buxton Hall Barbecue

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32 Banks Ave
Asheville, NC 28801
(828) 232-7216
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[Note: Buxton Hall Barbecue is temporarily closed]

In the land of barbecue, Buxton Hall is a step above competitors. Housed inside a historic South Slope space that was once a roller rink before clocking time as the requisite auto shop, the restaurant is the purview of chefs Elliott Moss and Meherwan Irani. They preside over the whole-hog open kitchen, churning out such fragrant fare as pulled pork sandwiches sloshed in vinegary pepper sauce, buttermilk fried chicken topped with creamy white barbecue sauce, smoked sausage platters, and barbecue pork hash with hush puppies, gravy, and rice. The desserts especially exceed expectations and include scratch-made sweets like cherry limeade cheesecake, brown butter pineapple upside down cake, and “midnight snack” cookies studded with peanut butter pretzels, roasted peanuts, toasted white chocolate, and peanut brittle. The picnic tables out front make for ideal outdoor dining. 

An overhead shot of a table packed with barbecue. Several hands grab at sandwiches, pulled pork, mac and cheese, beans, BBQ chicken, and more.
A barbecue feast from Buxton Hall
Andrew Thomas Lee

21. Cúrate

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13 Biltmore Ave
Asheville, NC 28801
(828) 239-2946
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It’s not exactly a bygone garage, but this former bus-depot-turned-Spanish-stalwart definitely fits Asheville’s adaptive aesthetic. This is the hub for Katie Button, one of the city’s most prominent and awarded chefs, whose convivial tapas pay homage to her travels in Spain. By the glowing central bar, legs of jamón Ibérico dangle above the open kitchen, ready to be sliced and draped onto charcuterie platters. The snackable menu features other Spanish staples, such as albondigas, paella, and patatas bravas. There are also plenty of Cúrate originals: roasted Brussels sprouts and cauliflower enriched with fried breadcrumbs and a celery root-yogurt mousse; and surf and turf of South Carolina clams steamed in cider and paired with house-made chorizo. Many ingredients are sourced as locally as possible, from purveyors like Apple Brandy Farms and Honey and the Hive. Cava, gin and tonics, vermouth on tap, and txakoli, ideally consumed via porrón, all keep the Spanish vibes flowing. 

An overhead shot of various tapas and snacks — canned mussels, potato chips, olives, and more — placed upon a marble counter and served alongside a glass of white wine.
A tapas spread from Cúrate
Evan Sung

1. Emilia

16 Market Square, Knoxville, TN 37902
A metal tray holding thick slices of bread next to a wooden bowl of ricotta topped with olive oil
Focaccia with Cruze Farm ricotta
beall + thomas photography

You’ll need to load up on carbs before summiting Clingmans Dome, and there’s no better place to do that than at downtown Knoxville’s dashing Emilia. The Italian restaurant, serving cuisine inspired by the Emilia-Romagna region, has a lot of the requisite Italian decor: brick walls, rows of wine bottles behind the bar, and oversized cans of tomato sauce doubling as decoration. But this warm retreat eschews red sauce Americana in favor of a more delicate, refined approach to pastas and entrees. Look for lightly fried baby artichoke fritters brightened with lemon-caper aioli, warm house-pulled burrata with roasted local squash, and Springer Mountain Farms chicken cooked under a brick until crispy and served with oregano pan sauce and salsa verde. The house specialty, though, is the pasta. It’s all made in house and served in ever-changing variations, like campanelle with roasted mushrooms and broccolini in a pine nut-mushroom broth, or fusilli carbonara with a poached Windy Acres Farm egg and toothsome bacon from Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Ham.

16 Market Square
Knoxville, TN 37902

2. OliBea

211 S Central St, Knoxville, TN 37902

A breakfast mainstay in the trendy Old City neighborhood of Knoxville, where centuries-old factory buildings are seeing new life as art galleries and saloons, OliBea is as pleasing to the eye as it is to the palate. The sunny space, with hardwood floors and featuring local art, provides a relaxed environment in which to linger with locally roasted coffee and locally sourced ham and eggs. Biscuits are a popular staple, available by themselves, in Benedicts, sandwiched on pickle-brined fried chicken, or heaped with sausage, cheddar, scrambled eggs, and serrano jam.

211 S Central St
Knoxville, TN 37902

3. Bistro at the Bijou

807 S Gay St, Knoxville, TN 37902
Grilled salmon and sweat potatoes sit atop a bed of succotash made with various summer vegetables and lima beans. A spring of bright green dill garnishes the dish.
Grilled salmon from Bistro at the Bijou
Matt Kirouac/Eater

An hour northwest of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Knoxville offers a good mix of the old guard and the new upstarts. Bistro at the Bijou is like a bridge between them: It’s a swanky haven in one of the city’s most historic buildings, located next door to the ornate Bijou Theatre. The restaurant feels sophisticated and regal, thanks largely to the building’s Renaissance-style architecture, stained glass windows, and art that hangs in the dining room. But the bistro maintains a casual air, thanks to owner Martha Boggs, a Tennessee native who aims for a welcoming, watering-hole atmosphere and a farm-to-table approach. The bill of fare includes fried okra Caesar salad, bourbon-glazed pork loin, and fried bologna Benedicts on buttery biscuits. The cocktails are frequently as seasonal as the food menu, with variations like strawberry mojitos and lavender-blueberry spritzes.

807 S Gay St
Knoxville, TN 37902

4. Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant

240 Apple Valley Rd, Sevierville, TN 37862

With a legacy dating back almost a century, Applewood Farmhouse reigns as Sevierville’s oldest independent restaurant. It’s in a historic barn building amid rows of apple trees, so naturally, apples are front and center in offerings like apple juleps, apple-cinnamon muffins, and apple fritters. Meanwhile, Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant and Applewood Farmhouse Grill, two adjacent all-day restaurants created to meet customer demand, peddle mountain-friendly fare like ham biscuits, chicken and dumplings, and crispy chicken livers with cream gravy. Nestled on vast acreage of fruitful farmland, the farmhouses-turned-restaurants have earned their reputation as pastoral fantasy spots.

240 Apple Valley Rd
Sevierville, TN 37862

5. Five Oaks Farm Kitchen

1638 Parkway, Sevierville, TN 37862

About 45 minutes north of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Sevierville is quieter and less touristy than Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. It’s also a town with a rich, longstanding agricultural legacy, which lives on at Five Oaks Farm Kitchen. The grounds outside the restaurant are garnished with tractors and trucks, while the interior of the enormous farmhouse dining room features lofty ceilings, wooden chandeliers, and communal picnic tables. In the morning, breakfast means fried pork chops smothered in sausage gravy and eggs scrambled with pecan-smoked bacon. Lunch and dinner take advantage of the adjoining smokehouse for barbecue-focused fare, such as hickory-smoked chicken and prime rib of beef with grated horseradish mustard and au jus.

1638 Parkway
Sevierville, TN 37862

6. The Wildflour Bakehouse

240 Forks of the River Pkwy, Sevierville, TN 37862
A pan of freshly baked cinnamon bread, topped with a crumbly mixture of cinnamon and sugar.
The cinnamon bread is Wildflour’s most popular item
Wildflour Bakehouse/Official Website

This modest bakery may be light on decor — just a few simple tables in a stark strip mall storefront — but the pastry counter is big on flavor. It’s run by Stephany Houston, a pastry chef who formerly worked at nearby Dollywood. Her specialty is oversized and doughy cinnamon rolls, while other treats include fragrant cinnamon bread, banana pudding, thick slices of oatmeal cake, apple slab pie, and cheesecake parfaits. There are savory options too, like ham salad and soups, but the stars are the sweets.

240 Forks of the River Pkwy
Sevierville, TN 37862

7. Graze Burgers

125 Bruce St, Sevierville, TN 37862
A tray with a large hot dog topped with chili and cheese, next to a cast iron tray of mac and cheese, beside other burgers, sandwiches, and drinks on a wooden table
Trailer Park hot dog with beef chili and mac & cheese
Spothopper

It’s all about grass-fed beef and boozy shakes at this casual downtown joint, nestled inside an airy, brick-lined space that feels like an elongated garage. Starters and sides tick off Southern comfort boxes, with snacks like fried green tomatoes and pimento cheese, but the stars are the burgers, stacked on brioche buns with toppings like bacon jam, bourbon-caramelized onions, corn salsa, and beef chili. Non-beef options include a bison burger, a fried chicken sandwich, and a smoked salmon sandwich with lemon dill sauce. To drink, the full bar specializes in bourbon and whiskey along with simple cocktails, but after dinner enjoy one of the spiked shakes. They’re boozy desserts in a glass: The Cobbler contains fresh blueberries, graham cracker crumbs, and Tito’s vodka, while the Boozy S’mores conjures campfire flavors with marshmallow vodka, chocolate syrup, and graham crackers. 

125 Bruce St
Sevierville, TN 37862

8. The Appalachian

133 Bruce St, Sevierville, TN 37862

A new addition to the Sevierville dining scene offers a modern approach to traditional Appalachian flavors and recipes, courtesy of Tennessee native David Rule. Sourcing ingredients from local purveyors like Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Ham, Heritage Farms Cheshire Pork, and Cruze Farm Dairy, the chef and co-owner does most of his cooking over a wood-fired hearth, churning out dishes like Buffalo frog legs, rainbow trout with grilled strawberries, smoked squash soup, hanger steak with smoked fingerling potatoes, and pan-roasted chicken with ham hock lima beans. For dessert, there’s Coca-Cola cake a la mode, with a sprinkling of candied pecans for crunch. A far cry from the barn-sized restaurants of Gatlinburg, the space echoes the kitchen’s modern cuisine with a polished, intimate vibe.

133 Bruce St
Sevierville, TN 37862

9. Big Daddy's Pizzeria

714 River Rd, Gatlinburg, TN 37738
A full pizza pie, tilted to reveal toppings, sitting in a woodfired oven. The pizza is topped with sliced mushrooms and sliced onions
Pizza fresh from the fire
Big Daddy’s Pizzeria [Official]

Despite the campy decor and stereotypical Italian photos that make the place look like an Epcot version of a Neapolitan pizzeria, Big Daddy’s is the real deal. With three locations on the western side of the Great Smoky Mountains, including this Gatlinburg branch that’s mere minutes from the park, this is a pizzeria that feels touristy but exceeds expectations. Wood-fired brick oven pies are stretched thin and cooked quickly to achieve a delicately crispy thin crust before they’re strewn with toppings like meatballs, Genoa salami, sweet barbecue sauce, and shaved prime rib. You can’t go wrong with a classic margherita either, or the fantastic appetizers, like wood-fired wings and wood-baked soft pretzels with fonduelike cheese sauce. 

714 River Rd
Gatlinburg, TN 37738

10. Crockett's Breakfast Camp

1103 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738

A day on the trail requires a hearty morning meal, and few places in Gatlinburg fit the bill quite like Crockett’s Breakfast Camp, named in honor of local frontiersman David C. “Crockett” Maples, who developed regional renown offering home-cooked breakfasts to travelers. His spirit lives on in this sprawling cabin-style brunch restaurant with a lot to look at — whiskey barrels, stone fireplaces, canoes, and a giant wooden statue of Crockett himself greeting you at the door. Savory, robust rations like biscuit sandwiches, corned beef hash, and country fried steak come with a side of sweet corn pone, while more indulgent options include fried cinnamon rolls, pecan-studded waffles, and fluffy buckwheat pancakes flecked with granola and bananas.

1103 Parkway
Gatlinburg, TN 37738

11. Flapjack's Pancake Cabin

478 E. Parkway, US-321, Gatlinburg, TN 37738
Pancakes of various sizes stacked and decorated with chocolate syrup to resemble a bear’s head
Bear cakes
Flapjack’s Pancake Cabin [Official]

Another breakfast institution in the area, Flapjack’s Pancake Cabin is a Tennessee mini-chain with a half dozen locations around the Smokies, all housed in literal wooden cabins. The Pigeon Forge location, right on the main U.S. 441 corridor that enters the national park from the northwest, is convenient for pregaming before a hike. Sure, you could feast on chicken fried steak or chicken biscuit skillets, but there’s no better way to fuel up for a day in the mountains than with a plate of bear cakes — bear-shaped smiley-face pancakes with a chocolate syrup smile and chocolate chip eyes. Or, if you’d rather not order off the kids’ menu, other pancake options range from cinnamon-swirled sticky bun pancakes with cream cheese icing to multigrain pancakes spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg.

478 E. Parkway, US-321
Gatlinburg, TN 37738

12. The Greenbrier Restaurant

370 Newman Rd, Gatlinburg, TN 37738

Tucked into lush, forested mountainside at the edge of Gatlinburg — the park’s main entry point — the Greenbrier has the look and feel of a quintessential national park restaurant. The stone structure is perched on a bucolic ridge and decked out with dark wood floors, a roaring outdoor fire pit, alfresco rocking chairs, and plenty of requisite taxidermy. The steak-centric menu, led by executive chef Aaron Ward, leans on local farms for produce and meats, which are dry-aged in house. Plates include fried pickled okra, duck breast with orange marmalade bourbon sauce, stuffed acorn squash brimming with wild mushrooms and farro, and a 22-ounce porterhouse seasoned simply with cracked pepper and Himalayan salt. Wash it all down with a pour from the ample whiskey list or a bottle from the lengthy wine list.

370 Newman Rd
Gatlinburg, TN 37738

13. The Everett Hotel

16 Everett St, Bryson City, NC 28713
A filet of trout served alongside sautéed vegetables and wild rice
The Everett’s excellent rainbow trout
The Everett Hotel/Provided

Just 13 miles southeast of the park, the Everett Hotel & Bistro in charming Bryson City feels (and tastes) like an upgraded campground cookout. The warm, rustic decor is outfitted with polished wood paneling, candelabras, landscape portraits, and antlers. It looks like an upscale mess hall, albeit a mess hall with a full bar and leather chairs. Ingredients are sourced as locally as possible, and the house specialty is trout, available as trout cakes with remoulade, or pan-seared in a cornmeal crust with red quinoa and baby spinach. Other Southern-tinged specialties, all of which are available for takeout, include she crab soup, grilled Springer Mountain Farms chicken with fig chutney and prosciutto, and the open-range meatloaf, a carnivorous feast made with four locally sourced meats: Creekstone beef, Durham Ranch bison, Border Springs lamb, and K&B Meat’s pork sausage. The Bistro also has breakfast (complimentary for hotel guests) and a drink list emphasizing wine and North Carolina beer.

16 Everett St
Bryson City, NC 28713

14. Haywood Smokehouse

403 Haywood Rd, Dillsboro, NC 28725
A paper-lined tray with piles of chopped sausage, ribs, pulled pork, and meatloaf
Mixed meats
GM Long, Jr

On the eastern side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, in North Carolina, barbecue is king. Find it at institutions like Haywood Smokehouse, a nondescript roadside haunt with humble decor, a barnlike dining room, and a giant pair of bull horns over the front door. Whether you’re dining inside or out on the wood deck, barbecue comes heaped unceremoniously on paper-lined trays, from chopped pork and sliced brisket to smoked chicken and spicy andouille sausage links. Sandwiches include the Fine Swine, a chopped-pork behemoth topped with provolone and collard greens, and the Texas Melt, a kind of quasi-cheesesteak that layers sliced brisket with grilled onions, peppers, mushrooms, and provolone on your choice of bun or toast. Haywood also has locations in Waynesville and Franklin, but the Dillsboro outpost, a mere 17 miles southeast of the park, is the most convenient stopover.

403 Haywood Rd
Dillsboro, NC 28725

15. Vivian

348 Depot St Ste 190, Asheville, NC 28801
A plate of steak and mashed potatoes, covered in sauce, on a wooden counter beside a pot of flowers
Steak dinner
Jason B James

What started as a pop-up out of Burial Beer Co. in 2015 has evolved into a full-fledged homage to alluring European bistros. Husband-wife duo Josiah and Shannon McGaughey oversee this cozy, casual River Arts District restaurant, where the vibe is as comfortable and relaxed as the presentation of Josiah’s cooking, inspired equally by European kitchens and regional Southern ingredients. For those eating in Vivian’s dining room, the ever-changing menu of shareable snacks and mains runs the gamut: smoked-fish deviled eggs, pan-seared North Carolina flounder with buttery and herbal sauce printanière, duck and lamb kebabs with roasted sunchokes, and soufflé omelets with crab Newburg. During the pandemic, they also started a program called Vivian at Home for curbside takeout, and amped up their open-air patio with alfresco tables. Wine, beer, and cocktails, including a few mixed drinks available for takeout, anchor the bar program.

348 Depot St Ste 190
Asheville, NC 28801

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16. Ben's Tune Up

195 Hilliard Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
A colorful carafe, a cocktail with a bright purple drink, and a small sake cup garnished with a pineapple wedge, on a wooden counter
Sake carafe and cocktails
Ben’s Tune Up [Official]

Proof that Asheville’s beverage scene goes far beyond beer, Ben’s Tune Up is the city’s first sake brewery, using 100 percent American rice and mountain water to create its creamy elixirs. Staying on brand with Asheville’s penchant for garage spaces, Ben’s is inside a former auto shop, with an abundant beer garden and on-site takeout window slinging sake-friendly snacks like dumplings, egg rolls, and kimchi brats. Unpasteurized sake is served cold on draft, including fruit-infused versions like pineapple-jalapeno and blueberry-lime.

195 Hilliard Ave
Asheville, NC 28801

17. Wicked Weed Funkatorium

147 Coxe Ave, Asheville, NC 28801

Less than 40 miles east of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Asheville is the main food destination on the North Carolina side. It’s also the ultimate beer haven, with more breweries per capita than almost anywhere in the country. Start barhopping at the sour-focused Funkatorium, an offshoot of mainstay Wicked Weed brewery. The modern garagelike taproom, located in the city’s brewery-saturated South Slope neighborhood, offers a sprawling beer garden lined with planters, murals, and picnic tables. Rotating draft selections, such as the Genesis tropical blonde sour and the Silencio bourbon-barrel-aged black sour with coffee and vanilla, constantly push the boundaries of sour beer. The Funkatorium is also a full-service restaurant with salads, sandwiches, and crunchy Roman-style pizzas.

147 Coxe Ave
Asheville, NC 28801

18. Antidote at Chemist Spirits

151 Coxe Ave, Asheville, NC 28801

A stark departure from the garagelike breweries dotting South Slope, Antidote is a gilded cocktail bar that looks more like the Clue mansion than a drinking destination. Owned by the local distiller Chemist Spirits, it’s a three-story beauty filled with cozy nooks in which to sip on bracing drinks, many of them gin-centric. Order at the bar on the first floor, then find a cranny or fireside chaise to nurse your barrel-aged gin Old Fashioned or chocolate orange Negroni. While there’s no kitchen, snacks are sourced locally, including charcuterie boxes from South Slope Cheese Co. and chocolates from French Broad Chocolate.

151 Coxe Ave
Asheville, NC 28801

19. Burial Beer Co.

40 Collier Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
A hand pours a beer can into three glasses that overflow over the railing they’re sitting on, beside another full can of the same beer with a decorative label
Philosophical Ideologies of Moralistic Indignation Double IPA
Burial Beer Co. [Official]

Housed in an endearingly austere space, Burial Beer Co.’s main taproom looks like a repair shop that’s been retrofitted with barrels and twinkling lights. But it’s also one of the most exciting and inventive breweries in South Slope, offering a vast and varied selection of styles. IPAs typically occupy a lot of space on the draft lines, in multiple variations and flavor profiles, like fruit-forward triple IPAs and oat-based imperials. There are also dark lagers, doppelbocks, stouts, sours, and a full food menu that raises the bar on brewery snacks. Cajun pork rinds come with shrimp butter, za’atar-spiced baby radishes are dunked in golden beet hummus, and chorizo, glazed with honey and red wine, gets a pungent punch from paprika aioli, roasted potatoes, piquillo peppers, and grilled bread. On warm days, the yard provides plenty of picnic table space for post-hike drinking.

40 Collier Ave
Asheville, NC 28801

20. Buxton Hall Barbecue

32 Banks Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
An overhead shot of a table packed with barbecue. Several hands grab at sandwiches, pulled pork, mac and cheese, beans, BBQ chicken, and more.
A barbecue feast from Buxton Hall
Andrew Thomas Lee

[Note: Buxton Hall Barbecue is temporarily closed]

In the land of barbecue, Buxton Hall is a step above competitors. Housed inside a historic South Slope space that was once a roller rink before clocking time as the requisite auto shop, the restaurant is the purview of chefs Elliott Moss and Meherwan Irani. They preside over the whole-hog open kitchen, churning out such fragrant fare as pulled pork sandwiches sloshed in vinegary pepper sauce, buttermilk fried chicken topped with creamy white barbecue sauce, smoked sausage platters, and barbecue pork hash with hush puppies, gravy, and rice. The desserts especially exceed expectations and include scratch-made sweets like cherry limeade cheesecake, brown butter pineapple upside down cake, and “midnight snack” cookies studded with peanut butter pretzels, roasted peanuts, toasted white chocolate, and peanut brittle. The picnic tables out front make for ideal outdoor dining. 

32 Banks Ave
Asheville, NC 28801

21. Cúrate

13 Biltmore Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
An overhead shot of various tapas and snacks — canned mussels, potato chips, olives, and more — placed upon a marble counter and served alongside a glass of white wine.
A tapas spread from Cúrate
Evan Sung

It’s not exactly a bygone garage, but this former bus-depot-turned-Spanish-stalwart definitely fits Asheville’s adaptive aesthetic. This is the hub for Katie Button, one of the city’s most prominent and awarded chefs, whose convivial tapas pay homage to her travels in Spain. By the glowing central bar, legs of jamón Ibérico dangle above the open kitchen, ready to be sliced and draped onto charcuterie platters. The snackable menu features other Spanish staples, such as albondigas, paella, and patatas bravas. There are also plenty of Cúrate originals: roasted Brussels sprouts and cauliflower enriched with fried breadcrumbs and a celery root-yogurt mousse; and surf and turf of South Carolina clams steamed in cider and paired with house-made chorizo. Many ingredients are sourced as locally as possible, from purveyors like Apple Brandy Farms and Honey and the Hive. Cava, gin and tonics, vermouth on tap, and txakoli, ideally consumed via porrón, all keep the Spanish vibes flowing. 

13 Biltmore Ave
Asheville, NC 28801

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