When it comes to restaurants, Pigeon Forge has many obvious choices in the form of national chains. For those who aren't interested in fast food or dinner theater every night -- the latter can get quite expensive for a family of four -- there are some options. Because of the nature of the destination, there are not many upscale eateries but instead, plenty of Southern fare, steakhouses, pancake joints, and family-style restaurants. And Pigeon Forge is somewhat dry -- you can buy beer in the grocery store; there are liquor stores in Gatlinburg. However, a recent victory for tourism now allows restaurants to serve wine and beer by the glass. Alamo Steakhouse, 3050 Parkway (tel. 865/908-9998; www.alamosteakhouse.com), with its dark wood and Tex-Mex decor, is the area's best bet for a nice dinner -- and a glass of wine or beer, too. The restaurant opened in 2001 and specializes in hand-cut Black Angus beef, cooked over an oak fire, for which they've consistently won reader's choice awards from Mountain Press. Varied preparations of porterhouse, T-bone, filet, prime rib dominate the beef options: lobster, shrimp, trout, and salmon dishes are also available. For smaller appetites, try the extensive list of appetizers, soups and salads, including the blackened prime rib salad, are popular. If you fall in love with their hot sauce, they sell that and their own steak sauce on the premises. Open daily. Main courses cost $19.99-$35.99.
Another local favorite is Bennett's Pit Bar-B-Que, 2910 Parkway (tel. 865/429-2200; www.bennetts-bbq.com). It consistently draws raves as one of Pigeon Forge's staple, go-to restaurants and has been voted best barbecue, ribs, salad bar and breakfast by the readers of Mountain Press; take out is also available. Their ribs are rubbed in a barbecue sauce that's more tomato-based than spicy, but for regular, no-frills barbecue, smoked for 14 hours over hickory wood, it's as good as it gets in Pigeon Forge. Bennett's is sensitive to the vagaries of dining preferences, so they serve extra sauce, warm and on the side, to customize. Hefty portions are a mainstay -- the full rack of baby back ribs comes with a "rib bib" for your protection. The sampler and combo platters, with various portions of chopped pork, beef brisket, sausage, chicken and pork spareribs, are provide enough food -- with two sides included -- to feed a small army. Main courses $9.99-$19.99.
Huck Finn's Catfish Chicken & Steaks Restaurant, 3334 Parkway (tel. 865/429-3353; www.huckfinnsrestaurant.com), is the Pigeon Forge's southern cuisine staple, but they don't take reservations so on weekends, you may have to wait. Huck Finn's is known for its all-you-can-eat specials, especially the sides, which here they call vittles -- a.k.a. coleslaw, baked white beans and ham, sweet onion slices, hushpuppies and dill pickles. All-you-can-eat vittles can be ordered as a meal for $5.99. Otherwise, vittles come with regular dinners and all "Mark Twain Riverboat dinners," such as frog's legs (battered, breaded and fried), gator tail (breaded and fried) and a pound of chicken livers. There are, however, more mainstream items such as boneless grilled or barbecued chicken, for those who don't want anything fried. If the courteous service, country charm and affordable prices weren't already an indicator, you know you're in an old-fashioned Southern establishment when milk and buttermilk, along with soda and iced tea, are options on the beverage menu. There is indeed a kid's menu. Save room for the ever-changing Aunt Polly's fruit cobbler of the day -- with ice cream, of course. Main courses cost $7.95-$14.95.
Another homespun destination, perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner, is The Old Mill Restaurant 164 Old Mill Ave (tel. 877/653-6455, 865/429-3463; www.old-mill.com), which opened in 1993. Locals and recurrent visitors happily wait to be seated during busy times for the hearty Southern cooking served here, in a rustic, riverside setting. Many of the mill's stone-ground products are used in the restaurant's cooking, such as the grits and muffins. For breakfast, try their scratch-made biscuits and gravy, pancakes and real center-cut country ham, and for lunch, don't miss their signature corn chowder. Ample dinner portions are served with family-style sides, such as fritters, corn chowder, green beans, salad, potato and even homemade dessert. If you fall in love with the Old Mill's revered pecan pie, which you can buy it along with other indulgences such as from their web site, or try other baked items from the nearby Old Mill Bakery Cafe. Open year round, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast $4.25-$9.95; dinner $9.95-$17.95.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.