1. Hot Apple Fritters
First on our list for fall comfort foods in the Smokies is a hot apple fritter at the Apple Barn and Cider Mill in Sevierville. If you haven’t visited this unique Smoky Mountain restaurant before, you should definitely check it out this fall. You won’t find a sweeter way to warm up than with a perfectly flaky fritter and a glass of fresh-made apple cider in your hands. You can also hang around and eat dinner at the Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant before heading back to the cabin with your very own bottle of locally made apple wine from the Apple Barn Winery.
2. Signature Corn Chowder
You know clam chowder, right? Well, in the Smokies we have our own Southern twist on the New England treat known as corn chowder. And you’ll find some of the best corn chowder in the area when you visit Pigeon Forge’s historic Old Mill! Directly behind The Old Mill, you’ll find the long walkway that leads up to The Old Mill Restaurant. This delicious, Southern-style restaurant has been serving its signature corn chowder and corn fritters to the Smoky Mountain community for years. Come see what the fuss is all about, and get ready for a table full of Southern deliciousness at this homestyle restaurant in Pigeon Forge.
3. Old-Fashioned Buttermilk Pancakes
What Po’boys are to New Orleans and lobster is to Maine, pancakes are to the Smoky Mountains. But here’s the deal—because pancakes are SO popular in the Smokies, there’s no single restaurant we can recommend. Gatlinburg alone is home to at least 5 pancake houses we think you should check out: Atrium Pancakes, Pancake Pantry, Log Cabin Pancake House, Flapjacks Pancake Cabin, and the newest on our list, Crockett’s Breakfast Camp. At these breakfast joints, which specialize in pancakes, you’ll find a variety of options from “Cinnamon Roll Swirl Pancakes” at Crockett’s to “Grandma’s Peanut Butter & Banana Pancakes” at Flapjacks. But you can’t ever go wrong with a tall stack of old-fashioned buttermilk pancakes served with whipped butter and hot syrup.
4. Tennessee BBQ
Here’s another Smoky Mountain comfort food: pit-smoked Tennessee barbecue! And just like with pancakes, there are tons of barbecue joints to choose from. For hickory smoked barbecue and ribs that have won Reader’s Choice Awards in the area, try Bennett’s Pit Bar-b-que in Gatlinburg. Another barbecue joint that’s locally owned and been a favorite Gatlinburg restaurant for years is Hungry Bear BBQ, located just 7 minutes from downtown Gatlinburg. Other Smoky Mountain options include Calhoun’s, Corky’s Ribs & BBQ, Delauder’s Smoky Mountain BBQ, and Texas Roadhouse. You really can’t go wrong with a heaping plate of pulled pork, coleslaw, and baked beans!
5. “Best Ever” Southern Fried Chicken
Anytime you visit the Smokies, you have to make time to visit Southern-style restaurants like Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen at The Island. This is where you’ll find the “Best Ever” rendition of a Tennessee classic: Southern fried chicken! Fresh, hand-breaded chicken golden-fried to perfection—is your mouth watering yet? Of course, fried chicken isn’t the only hot dish served on their dinner menu. You can also try cheesy meatloaf, beef pot roast, chicken-fried pork chops, and chicken & dumplings. And these are just your options for dinner! Don’t miss their Southern-style breakfast options like chicken and waffles or a comforting lunch of spare ribs, black-eyed peas, and collard greens at Paula Deen’s!
6. Biscuits and Chocolate Gravy
Let me start by saying, if chocolate gravy doesn’t sound appealing to you, that’s just because you haven’t had it yet! And the best place to give it a go is the Smoky Mountain restaurant that won the People’s Choice Award for “Best Biscuits” at the International Biscuit Festival in 2015. Yes, we’re talking about the all-you-can-eat, family-style restaurant in Pigeon Forge known as Mama’s Farmhouse! Serving Southern favorites for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you’ve got to make it over for a warm, buttery biscuit this fall—the perfect way to warm up on a crisp, cool morning.
7. Ogle Dogs
It’s a Gatlinburg tradition. At least once, while you’re strolling the Parkway in Gatlinburg this fall, stop in at Fannie Farkle’s, where you’ll find the legendary Ogle Dog. In fact, you’ll not only have the chance to try an Ogle Dog, but watch them make it—start-to-finish. These hand-dipped, foot-long corn dogs have been a favorite Smoky Mountain comfort food for decades, and the secret recipe has been closely guarded for even longer. Join the fun by trying your first Ogle Dog during this year’s vacation to the Smokies, and then stick around for games and prizes inside their state-of-the-art arcade!
8. Ole Smoky Moonshine
If you’re over 21, don’t miss out on one last Smoky Mountain favorite that’s as old as the hills: Ole Smoky Moonshine. You can check out the Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery in one of two locations (in Gatlinburg and in Pigeon Forge), and both have a long list of flavors to help you warm up from the inside out during your fall stay in the Smokies. Of course, their Original Unaged Corn Whiskey is as classic as it comes, but other moonshine options include White Lightnin’, Blackberry, and their world famous “Apple Pie” shine.