Family-friendly restaurants in Sevierville, Tennessee
Southern style food all seems the same when you aren’t a local. I expect biscuits and gravy, pulled pork and everything fried. This is definitely not the case when it comes to restaurants in Sevierville, Tennessee. The area, which feels more like a beach community than a series of towns leading to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is filled with big chain restaurants, but locally owned spots as well. You need to do a little digging to get past the Red Lobster, Fuddruckers and Outback Steakhouse, but ask any local where to eat and they will point you towards their favorites.
Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant
240 Apple Valley Road, Sevierville, Tenn. Tel: 865.428.1222. Apple fritters. That come out as soon as you are seated. With apple butter. I’m not sure I need to say more than that. OK, well it being breakfast, I also have to tell you to order the apple butter French toast. Really you should just ask for anything with apple butter on it. I scooped it up by the spoonful. The usual country favorites are on the menu- eggs, bacon, pancakes, biscuits and gravy- but if you are on a health kick you can get egg whites, wheat toast and fruit. The restaurant is housed in the original farmhouse, with another restaurant on the other end of the complex. I say complex, because this isn’t just a place to eat. This is a place to shop and sample as well. In the old barn and a few added buildings you can enjoy freshly made ice cream, pies, candy, and local apple wine. Parents, make sure you stop in for a sample of the apple raspberry and apple pomegranate wines.
Flapjack’s Pancake Cabin
1016 Parkway, Sevierville, Tenn. Tel: 865.774.5374. Flapjack’s is a local chain in the area, and certainly worth more than one visit. Coffee is served up hot and milk comes in adorable small milk jugs, as does the juice. The French toast is the best I had in town, although it did not come out with apple butter. It was a bit crispy on the outside, and not too mushy on the inside. The eggs are a bit odd- cut into small ribbons almost- but the bacon is excellent. Hikers will enjoy the hearty breakfasts before they head out to the national park, and parents will appreciate the reasonable prices that can feed their entire family without breaking the bank.
550 Winfield Dunn Parkway, Sevierville, Tenn. Tel: 865.908.1904. Howard, the kind soccer-enthusiast owner of The Diner, is usually mingling with guests. Don’t be surprised if he pops over to say hi and check on you. Unlike other restaurant owners who do this and force you to make small talk, Howard is a genuinely interesting guy that is incredibly easy to chat with. Ask him for his story (he’s originally from Wyoming). Ask him about his kids. Tell him about your kids. Besides the conversation, you can expect a big step up from your usual diner food. Yes, inside and out this looks like your typical old-school diner, but when your salad comes with mixed greens and spinach instead of just a pile of iceberg, you know you are in for something special. Howard’s philosophy is if he wouldn’t eat it why would anyone else? The burgers are a beloved staple on the menu, but you don’t have to settle for a generic burger. You can choose between beef, buffalo or elk meat. Salads, chicken tenders, and regular diner favorites are also on the menu, and this being a diner, you really can’t leave without a milkshake. I recommend the Oreo. Even if you plan to split it, well, get your own. You will slurp it down, including the extras they bring out in the metal cup.
Healthy Balance Meals
313 Court Avenue, Sevierville, Tenn. Tel: 865.809.0316. Before you head into the Great Smoky Mountains, grab a picnic lunch from Healthy Balance Meals. Their sandwiches are packed with veggies and protein to keep you moving on your hikes. Each meal comes with a cookie and tiny salad too. Make sure you call ahead if you know you will be setting out for the park early.
Tony Gore’s Smoky Mountain BBQ and Grill
1818 Winfield Dunn Parkway (Highway 66), Sevierville, Tenn. Tel: 865.429.7771. Now, the locals will tell you that this is the place for cake. Yes, cake. Giant slices come out on plates. Although you could share with everyone at you table, why bother? There are enough flavors for everyone to take a bite of one and then pass it to the right. What Tony Gore is really known for, besides being a well-known gospel singer, is his meats though. When he isn’t on the road you will usually see him at the restaurant. When he isn’t, his staff will take great care of you. The pork ribs are a must. The brisket is super tender with just enough salty goodness. The coleslaw is more mayonnaise based, but very good. For an appetizer make sure you try T’s Loaded Tater Chips. What is this? It’s a huge mound of potato chips smoother in pulled pork and cheese. Yes, it is a heart attack on a plate, but as my dad always tells me, no one ever wished they had eaten more bran muffins just before they die.
Hard Rock Café Pigeon Forge
2050 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, Tenn. Tel: 865.430.7625. Yes, Hard Rock is a chain, but it is one of the newest editions to Sevier County, and therefore worth a mention. It was also the first Hard Rock I ever visited. I have a friend who collects Hard Rock pint glasses. Imagine her delight when I came home with a Pigeon Ford Hard Rock glass. The staff was friendly, and the salmon Caesar salad was a healthier break from all the pulled pork I had been eating (not that I am complaining. I could eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner!). It is also right next to the Smokie Mountain Opry and several other venues that offer up evening performances. Park your car and spend an evening with good food and entertainment.
Many thanks to the Sevierville Convention and Visitors Bureau for hosting my visit to explore the area. As always, all opinions are my own; when they aren’t you will be the first to know.