Gatlinburg's Best Restaurants

After you hike the Smoky Mountains, refuel at these restaurants.

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Eternally framed by hazy blue peaks, Gatlinburg is as close as it gets to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. While the local population may hover around a mere 4,000, that number swells with the tourists who come here for the great views, endless hiking and affordable skiing at Ober Gatlinburg.

Downtown’s Parkway area may reflect this influx -- all neon lights and range of restaurants -- but there’s still much to discover off the beaten path. Luckily, with more than 150 Smoky Mountain trails covering 800 miles of unspoiled backcountry, you’re going to have quite the appetite.

Photo by: kweartz, flickr

kweartz, flickr

If there is one thing you’ll learn about dining in the Smokies, it’s that these folks don’t mess around when it comes to breakfast. Don’t let the line deter you when you arrive at the Log Cabin Pancake House. Savvy locals and tourists alike queue up for their turn to order renowned favorites like cornmeal or buckwheat pancakes and decadent classics like French Toast Royale topped with bananas and cream-cheese sauce. With portions this hearty, consider making this your jumping-off point for a day of exploring the trails.

2. Wild Plum Tea Room

Photo by: George Middlebrooks

George Middlebrooks

Photo by: George Middlebrooks

George Middlebrooks

4. The Peddler Steakhouse

Photo by: George Middlebrooks

George Middlebrooks

Overlooking Little Pigeon River, the Peddler Steakhouse originated as a dream home built in 1958 from the salvaged remnants of four old Sevier County cabins. In 1976 it was turned into Peddler Steakhouse, but lost none of its former appeal. Request a table overlooking the river before settling into steakhouse favorites like loaded potatoes and a salad spread that could satisfy even the strictest vegetarians. Here, the hand-cut steaks are presented table-side before ordering so you may choose a cut to your liking. Their custom-cut New York strip is the main attraction, but for those looking for lighter fare, the marinated trout should not be missed. With service this attentive and friendly, expect to feel like you’re at a friend’s dream house after all.

5. Buckhorn Inn Restaurant

Photo by: Ric Brooks

Ric Brooks

Celebrating its 75th anniversary, the Buckhorn Inn is as renowned for its effortless beauty as it is for its namesake restaurant. Every evening at 7 p.m. hotel guests, as well as the public (reservations required), are invited to enjoy a Southern-inspired four-course meal. Arrive early to enjoy a cocktail on their rocking-chair-lined veranda for one unforgettable view of the Smokies. When dinner is announced, enjoy seasonal favorites like braised-beef short ribs and cornmeal-crusted mountain trout. Just beware: With meals this heavenly you might find yourself booking a room solely to stay on for breakfast.

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