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Just got back from Gatlinburg

We enjoyed the hiking but the food... Breakfasts are way overpriced and not very good. Sorry to say, but next time I would just get Mcdonalds for breakfast or bring my own cereal.
Smokey Mtn Brewery was a fun place with o.k. food, and an excellent pale ale.
We had lunch at Havana Dreams, a Cuban restaurant. It was a very good meal. Great pork chunks, very good Cuban sandwiches, good sangria, and good shrimp in garlic oil.
Dinner at Lindermans seafood (sp?) was decent. Trout was good, not great.
And a bunch of chains.
One thing that was much better than 14yrs ago (the last time we visited) alcohol was in every restaurant. Too bad the Burning Bush is gone, they had a great breakfast. The building is now called Parkdale or something, it's closed too.

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  1. thanks for the update! i'll be there this summer for a conference.

    1. Yeah Gatilnburg is a dining vacum but we do enjoy the Brewery when we're over there, good beers and passable food.

      1. I found the whole Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge experience depressing. Here you have some of the best hiking in the U.S. within a beautiful National Park and then there's the extreme tackiness, not to mention horrible traffic through Gat/PF. While it may be awhile, I think I'll opt for Cherokee next time and pretend the casino doesn't exist. I did enjoy meals at Corky's and the Apple Barn, but would rather have eaten Campbell's Pork and Beans if it meant getting rid of the 8 mile long strip mall.

        4 Replies
        1. re: bruce3404

          Try Maggie Valley/Waynesville next time for great hiking, less tackiness and good food!

          1. re: bruce3404

            Heh, we were just there and found Cherokee notably worse than Gatlinburg. There is plenty of tacky BS in Gatlinburg, sure, but it's clean and walkable downtown and much smaller and not to the level of what is in Pigeon Forge, so the trick is to pretend Pigeon Forge doesn't exist. Best way to do that is enter from the "East Parkway" US 321 which comes in directly to Gatlinburg. Doesn't really work if you're coming in from the south and/or west, but we went home that way thus avoiding another trip through the Forge (one of our other drives already had given us at least one too many drives through there).

            If you really want quieter I think Townsend would be a better bet. Dunno about Maggie Valley/Waynesville mentioned as I don't think we went through there. This would probably vary depending upon what you're looking for. If it's just hiking, you could stay any number of places, including farther south in North Carolina (think Bryson City or such). If you want to be closer to some of the most popular national park sights like Cades Cove and such, Townsend would work better. Or camp in the national park campgrounds, that keeps you out of the towns for much more of the time.

            Anyway, food in Gatlinburg, didn't know which thread to add to, but I'll go ahead in this one:

            Cherokee Grill was a pretty good meal for almost anywhere, casual but trying to be upscale. I dunno how all the menu would hold, but their signature steak was good, and the crab cakes were good, and the prices for these weren't too out of line from what we might have paid here at home (Pittsburgh).

            Best Italian: This is good, nothing too fancy, just your "red sauce" type of place. Play it simple and get spaghetti and meatballs or such, although others had veggie ravioli and I think eggplant parm that they enjoyed. I liked my spaghetti and italian sausage, very good sauce. Did a great job of packing up our 4 entrees, salads for everyone, and I think a dozen of their rolls (the menu says everyone gets three) to go so we could take it back to our rental chalet. Kinda pricey for what it is, I suppose, but that happens in this town.

            We had lunch once at Calhoun's because Cherokee Grill is not open for lunch and the brewery was closed for several days until 4pm that day! These are all three owned by the same company, but anyway, Calhoun's was not horrible but nothing outstanding. At least it's a Tennessee chain. The special was a prime rib sandwich, which was said by a companion to be good and looked actually better than my pork bbq sandwich. Another enjoyed his burger, but I don't know if it was better than the brewery (see below) or if it was just because he'd been out on the trail for days and hadn't had one. ;-)

            The Smoky Mountain Brewery had a decent wood fired pizza, but the burger was not good IMO. The beer is supposed to be a better bet, but we aren't beer drinkers and didn't try. It was just there and something I knew would work for lunch that day.

            Pancake Pantry, this is probably the place to go for these from what I can tell, even though there are umpteen pancake houses in town. This one has been there for almost 50 years and has many varieties. Large portion and kinda pricey; should have asked if you can get less for less $$, but probably you can't. Expensive and does not take credit cards, but good stuff on the menu. Went back again last day because first day I ordered pecan pancakes, which were good, but spied wild berry crepes on the placemat (which has all the varieties) and wanted to try. Just be prepared to throw down about 25 bucks cash (plus tip) for two at breakfast, closer to 30 if you both get meat sides and/or the higher priced pancake varieties. (My wild berry crepes cost I think $9.25, but even garden variety stuff was over $7 just for the cakes with no sides.)

            That's it. We were there Sunday-Friday, and those were our only meals out. The rest we cooked in the chalet. This is another way to deal with the food; rent a cabin/chalet or condo instead of a regular room and cook there. These types of vacation rentals are extremely plentiful in the area. Condos can be walking distance to downtown, and cabins/chalets can be anywhere and get you seclusion or a nice view. Prices are all over and can be competitive with a standard room. The Food City supermarket in Gatlinburg (on East Parkway, across from the post office) is newish and seemed reasonably well stocked, and open 6am-midnight every day. And assuming you're driving, you can bring a lot of supplies from home as well.

            Hope this helps someone in the future.

              1. re: fluffernutter

                LOL There's a whole bunch of web sites touting the quiet side of the Smokies or whatever that wording is. I would say it won't be quiet for long, but I doubt that's true. It's amazing how many people actually *want* the Pigeon Forge experience, and there's no reason to build it again over there.

          2. i thought the old Burning Bush had a Applewood Farmhouse in it now?

            3 Replies
            1. re: LaLa

              Breakfast at the Apple Barn Cider Mill (Is that same as Applewood?) is not to be missed. The apple fritters with apple butter, served with every meal. Especially good with country ham and eggs. There's a reason you often have to wait to get in. I've found the Calhoun's in Pigeon Forge to be inferior to Calhoun's elsewhere. Had really good catfish and hushpuppies at a place called, I think, Huck Finn's (surprised to find that name in a mountain tourist town - wudda expected it on the Mississippi). Have usually found the many pancake houses good for breakfast and reasonably priced. If you're looking for really fine dining, try the Inn at Blackberry Farm in Walland (near Townsend).

              1. re: LaLa

                If I understand it correctly, the Burning Bush was the very last thing on the right hand side before entering the park, at the corner of Ski Mountain Road. It's closed now. I think a sign in the back for parking still referenced Applewood, but it's not there anymore. There's also a restaurant-looking building directly across the Parkway that is empty, next to the Park Grill which is still there. So while the Park Grill is the last thing *open* on the left before entering the park, there is still one more building there past it that could house something else. (I don't know, but maybe the Park Grill built itself a new building and used to be in the empty one next door?)

                And Applewood Farmhouse, run by these folks http://www.stokelyhospitality.com/ is not the same as the Apple Barn, which is here http://www.applebarncidermill.com/

                1. re: CrazyOne

                  yes it is the the same thing ...stokley just oversees the restaurant management side of the operation
                  From the apple barn website:
                  The Apple Barn really is a barn, it was built back in 1910 and was part of the farm that the Hicks and Kilpatrick families bought in 1972. We planted our first trees in 1976 and we plant more every year. Our orchard now numbers over 4,000 trees. We began renovating the old cattle barn in 1980, scrubbing it clean as a whistle, one board at a time. Structurally, we left it pretty much as it was, merely putting a clear sealer on the black walnut and wormy chestnut wood, and retaining the stables and feeding rack. The sturdy old barn began a new era as The Apple Barn in 1981.
                  Soon, we added a Cider Room where you can actually watch the variety of juicy sweet and tart apples being pressed into delicious cider in the fall. Folks say our cider is the best they've ever tasted! Requests for a glass on the spot led to opening the inviting Cider Bar, where folks can sample our sippin' cider hot or cold, while admiring the beautiful cherry and onyx back bar. Well, with all those apples we just naturally had to include the Apple Pie Kitchen, where we bake delicious treats like fried apple pies, apple doughnuts, and apple dumplins for eating there or taking home.

                  Over the past 20 years, with the support of an apple loving public, we have grown "like Topsy". With a lot of planning and thought, we have been able to present our unique applewood smoked hams and bacon; introduce our own very special apple butter from an old time mountain recipe; add the Candy Factory which produces original sweets, including old-timey favorites, handmade on century-old equipment; and develop recipes for making our own ice cream for "The Creamery" ice cream parlor, starring apple specialties.

                  Our expansion included the renowned original Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant. It soon became apparent that if we wanted to serve everyone who wanted to dine with us, another restaurant was necessary. The Applewood Farmhouse Grill opened in 1995, along with the Apple Barn Winery, specializing in delightful apple and fruit wines.

                  Return to the Apple Barn, where it all started, and browse among the most enticing and unique array of gift items in the area, many of them themed to the mighty apple! The barn's General Store features a wide variety of handmade mountain crafts, food items, fit to grace a gourmet's table, home decorations and collectables. And of course, apples and cider, from which it all began.

                  Welcome to the complex apples built!

              2. Just wanted to add to the report. Just got back from 5 days in Gatlinburg. I knew it would be touristy but I had no idea. It was like one big boardwalk without the ocean. We were happy to find The Cherokee Grill after being there for 4 days and having terrible meals. We enjoyed it so much we returned the next night. Good crab cakes, (I had the crab cake sandwich,) great salads with homemade dressings. Warm homemade bread, and my Mom really enjoyed the grilled salmon. My Dad enjoyed the steak sandwich, and they had some good homemade chips as an appetizer. We ordered the crab bisque the 2nd night, and that was a little salty for my taste. We were too full both nights to get to dessert. Had great service and wouldn't hesitate to return to this restaurant.

                1. Just got back from Gatlinburg and most dining a pretty dreary experience. However, we did find one gem - Mojito's, a Cuban restaurant outside of the downtown up Ski Mtn. Road. It's a small, family run place. I had one of the Cuban sandwiches and it was hot, fresh and tasty. Don't miss the black beans - rich, creamy and definitely cooked with some type of pork in them. The fried plantains are dreamy also. Best part was the prices - my hubby and I ate for less than $20.