One thing I love about living in Greenville is its location in the South East. It's a day tripper's paradise. Around Greenville, there are a handful of cities that make for fabulous short getaways. I want to do a handful of posts on the day trips we take to Charleston, Atlanta, Savannah, Ashville, etc.
Since we just went, I’ll start with Gatlinburg, Tenessee and major in the subject of food.
One thing you've got to know is that I’ve been going to Gatlinburg way before I lived 2 ½ hours away. My family, like thousands of families, has Gatlinburg traditions and some of those traditions are reflected in my list here.
So my list is a mix between what I think is the best food and my family's traditional spots. Feel free to comment letting me know where you agree/disagree as I know there are a lot of culinary options to discuss. Here we go!
Pancake Pantry, M&M Pancakes with Peanut Butter Syrup
We do a lot of stuff in The Village Shopping Center. In fact, for a long time we’ve routinely stayed right outside of it at Jack Huff’s Motor Lodge so that it’s in walking distance.
When walking into The Village from the parkway you can’t help but see the giant Pancake Pantry. Now, there are a million places to get pancakes on the strip. This, in my book, is the only one that matters.
Of course, everything they have there is good, but their pancakes are truly phenomenal. Keeping with my childhood tradition I still get the M&M pancakes with peanut butter syrup (though now I have to get the adult portion and the adult price).
The two things that make it great are the whipped butter and the syrup. The syrup is more than just melted peanut butter. It’s like a maple syrup and peanut butter blend. So it doesn’t overwhelm you as if you’re just eating spoonfuls of peanut butter. Though what would be bad about that?
Donut Friar, Coconut Donuts
On days you don’t feel like eating a mountain of sugar first thing in the morning, but want more like a hill, go to the Donut Friar. It’s been there forever and has the best donuts in G-burg. They’re all good. Recently I went for the coconut one and it was superb.
Loco Burro Fresh Mex Cantina, Seafood Taco Trio
This is right in the middle of the parkway above Johnny Rockets and one of the 10,000 T-shirt shops. You take an escalator up to the restaurant and sit down to chips and salsa. They have incredible chips and salsa, btw. I usually only like the mildest of salsa but at this place, I can eat any version they put on the table.
The queso is good. I wouldn’t say it's anything spectacular but then again everyone took mine so I didn’t get a lot of it.
However, I recently got the seafood taco trio and would highly recommend it. You get a mahi mahi, salmon, and shrimp taco. They’re a decent size and come with cabbage slaw, chipotle aioli, and pineapple pico de gallo. What I do is ask to go light on that stuff and add shredded cheese. It doesn’t disappoint flavor wise and, unlike most Gatlinburg food, doesn’t make you feel like you need a 3-hour nap back at the hotel.
That way you can ride the mechanical donkey in the back of the restaurant or head to the third floor and hang out on the rooftop enjoying some great views and fresh air.
Smokey Mountain Brewery and Restaurant, Pretzels and Buffalo Chicken Pizza
This place is on the southern end of the Parkway and it’s good because everyone can find something they like on the menu. I go with the oven baked soft pretzels with beer cheese dip for the appetizer and then get a personal sized buffalo chicken pizza.
The pizza is not spicy but still has that great buffalo flavor. The sauce is their signature Thunder Road wing sauce. It’s epic.
Best Italian, Calzone
Best Italian has two locations on the parkway. Doesn’t matter which one you go to. The biggest reason for going there is the garlic dinner rolls they bring out to start off your meal. If you wanted to, which at some point you probably will, you could just eat the dinner rolls and make that dinner.
But since it feels kind of weird not to order anything else, may I suggest the calzone. If anything, it will give you a good laugh. I physically laughed when they brought it out because it is the size of 2 year old. Literally. It is as big as my daughter who is only 5 months shy of 2 years old. It’s so big three people could split it.
The Old Mill, Catfish
This is in Pigeon Forge but figured I'd throw this in here. I'd love to do a whole post about Pigeon Forge activities eventually. But a go-to restaurant in the area is The Old Mill and rightfully so as it’s delicious. A lot of folks go straight for the fried chicken which is mega good, only they don’t serve any dark meat which I find a tad disappointing.
So I wanted to suggest the catfish dinner. For those who say, “I don’t like catfish,” you’ll like this one. Best I’ve ever had. Don’t say no to dessert either. Get the pecan pie. You’re welcome.
Burg Coffees, Large Iced Raspberry White Mocha with Extra Ice
There are a handful of places to get coffee on the parkway including a pretty fancy Starbucks. I tried a handful of them last time I went and my favorite was a coffee shop in the Reagan Terrace Mall called Burg Coffees.
They’re a specialty coffee shop serving locally roasted beans. The staff was helpful. I was in a really picky mood and we landed on a large iced raspberry white mocha with extra ice (it was super hot out that day). It was without a doubt the best coffee I had on the trip.
One thing I loved about it was that it tasted like coffee. You know how sometimes you get a mocha or latte and it’s got so much flavoring it tastes like you’re drinking a cake? I hate that. If I’m getting coffee I want to taste coffee. My drink at Burg Coffees was flavored but still tasted like coffee.
Ole Smoky Candy Kitchen, Homemade Dark Chocolate Orange Peel
This place is attached to the Pancake Pantry in the front of The Village. It’s the place where they make taffy in the window, and that taffy is the real deal. They also have a whole array of chocolates. I like almost all of them. The only issue I have is that it’s all pretty rich stuff.
If you want something a little less filling yet still kind of different, go for the dark chocolate orange peels. They’re chocolate covered orange gummies and super tasty. Plus, you can eat a handful of them before feeling bloated.
Pro tip: Avoid the chocolate covered gummy bears. Not as good as you would think.
Artisan Cheese Shop and More, Hot Sriracha Peanuts
I was going to talk about all of the beef jerky options but wanted to introduce something a little less obvious. This place is kind of tucked into a small side street across from The Village. They always have samples of their cheeses out to taste and it’s all good stuff. But what I found to be hard to put down were the Sriracha peanuts. They've got a mild kick to them, they’re packed with flavor and they’re nigh impossible to quit. Buy one to carry around with you at Gatlinburg and buy one to take home with you.
One last pro tip: buy this t-shirt and wear it the whole time. Get it one size bigger than you think you need. That way you won't be embarrassed when the inevitable happens and you're wearing some Smoky Mountain cuisine.
Featured Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/e-dog/, the rest of the photos are mine :)