If you’re a food lover planning a trip to Gatlinburg, prepare your taste buds for a remarkable culinary adventure in these must try dishes in Gatlinburg. Nestled in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg boasts a food scene as rich and diverse as its stunning natural landscapes. And trust me, nothing completes a travel experience like immersing yourself in the local gastronomy.
The Pioneers of Gatlinburg’s Culinary Scene Making The Must Try Dishes In Gatlinburg
Diving into Gatlinburg’s food culture is like opening a book of stories that have been passed down through generations. The city’s culinary scene has evolved significantly over time, yet it remains deeply rooted in traditional Southern cooking. Local chefs like A. D. Rogers and Sarah Donalson played key roles in preserving these traditions while introducing innovative techniques that have shaped Gatlinburg’s food identity.
Iconic Dishes of Gatlinburg
The culinary tapestry of Gatlinburg is woven with a variety of iconic dishes that have earned the love and loyalty of locals and tourists alike. Let’s explore a few of these. All of these are some of the must try dishes in Gatlinburg that you have to eat!
Smoky Mountain Trout: Known for its delicate, mildly sweet flavor and tender texture, the Smoky Mountain Trout is a local delight you shouldn’t miss. Gatlinburg’s streams abound with these freshwater fish, making them a staple on many restaurant menus. The Smoky Mountain Trout House, known for its catch-and-cook service, is my top recommendation for the freshest trout in town.
Southern Fried Chicken: Ah, the classic Southern Fried Chicken. The crisp, golden crust encasing tender, flavorful meat is the result of a cherished recipe passed down through generations. Paired with a side of creamy mashed potatoes or coleslaw, it’s comfort food at its finest. Delauder’s BBQ serves one of the best versions I’ve tasted, with a perfect balance of spices and a satisfying crunch.
Gatlinburg’s BBQ Ribs: If you’re a fan of BBQ, Gatlinburg’s BBQ ribs will be a game-changer. Smoky, succulent, and glazed with a tangy-sweet sauce, these ribs are slow-cooked to perfection. Bennett’s Pit Bar-B-Que offers mouth-watering ribs that fall right off the bone. Pair them with a side of cornbread for an authentic Southern feast.
Cornbread: Speaking of cornbread, this Southern staple deserves a special mention. Slightly sweet, crumbly, and golden, cornbread in Gatlinburg is traditionally baked in a cast-iron skillet. It’s a versatile delight that pairs well with just about any dish. Log Cabin Pancake House serves an excellent cornbread – warm, buttery, and absolutely divine.
Banana Pudding: For dessert, indulge in the creamy, dreamy Banana Pudding. This Southern dessert features layers of vanilla custard, bananas, and crisp Nilla wafers, topped with a light meringue or whipped cream. The Old Mill Restaurant serves an unforgettable version, the perfect sweet finish to any meal.
Local Specialties Worth Exploring
While Gatlinburg’s iconic dishes offer a taste of traditional Southern cuisine, there are a couple of local specialties that provide a unique culinary experience.
Moonshine: Gatlinburg’s history with moonshine runs deep. This strong, distilled spirit was traditionally brewed in homemade stills during the Prohibition era. Today, legal moonshine distilleries pepper the city, offering a wide range of flavors. A tasting tour at Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery is a must for spirit enthusiasts.
Stack Cakes: A lesser-known regional specialty, the Appalachian stack cake is a unique treat. It’s made of several thin layers of sorghum-sweetened cake, filled with apple butter or dried apples. It’s a community cake, traditionally made for gatherings and weddings, where each guest would bring a layer. Visit The Wild Plum Tea Room to try a piece of this deliciously dense and moist cake.
A Glimpse into Gatlinburg’s Food Festivals
If you’re a true foodie, then Gatlinburg’s food festivals should be on your radar. These festivals are not just about food, but they also celebrate Gatlinburg’s rich heritage and culture. The Gatlinburg Chili Cookoff is an annual winter event that offers a carnival-like atmosphere filled with live music, street performances, and of course, the star of the show, chili. In the spring, the Smoky Mountain Wine Weekend offers a delightful showcase of Tennessee wines paired with delicious culinary creations from Gatlinburg’s best restaurants.
What is a must-try dish in Gatlinburg for first-time visitors?
While all the dishes mentioned in this guide are worth trying, the Smoky Mountain Trout is a unique local delight that you should definitely not miss.
Are there any vegetarian-friendly restaurants in Gatlinburg?
Absolutely! Gatlinburg has a diverse food scene with plenty of restaurants offering vegetarian and vegan options. Some favorites among locals and visitors include The Wild Plum Tea Room and The Park Grill.
Where can I try the best BBQ in Gatlinburg?
For a taste of the best BBQ in town, head to Bennett’s Pit Bar-B-Que. Their slow-cooked ribs and pulled pork are favorites among locals and visitors alike.
Is moonshine legal in Gatlinburg?
Yes, moonshine is legal in Gatlinburg. The city is home to several licensed distilleries that offer a wide range of moonshine flavors for you to sample. Just remember to drink responsibly!
What food-related events can I attend in Gatlinburg?
Gatlinburg hosts a number of food-related events throughout the year. These include the Gatlinburg Chili Cookoff in winter and the Smoky Mountain Wine Weekend in spring. Be sure to check the event schedules for the latest information.
There’s no denying that Gatlinburg’s vibrant and diverse food culture is an integral part of the city’s charm. From classic Southern dishes to unique local specialties, Gatlinburg’s gastronomy reflects its history, traditions, and the warmth of its people. As you plan your visit, remember to leave plenty of room in your itinerary (and your stomach) for these culinary delights. After all, what better way to understand a place than by savoring its flavors?
As a fellow foodie, I invite you to embark on this gastronomic journey through Gatlinburg. And hey, if you’ve already been here and sampled these delights, I’d love to hear about your experiences! Did you discover a dish that’s not on this list? Do share.