Last Updated on September 22, 2023
Pigeon Forge, named after an iron forge built by early settlers in the 1800s, has evolved into a beautiful city resort with a rich history and modern entertainment. This city, nestled in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, is a popular tourist destination. While the city is renowned for its attractions, including Dollywood and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it also has a great culinary tradition. That’s why the food is one of the best parts of a Pigeon Forge vacation.
From seafood to southern staples, there are many well-known dishes and certain local specialties to be found in Pigeon Forge. Furthermore, you’ll find the place crawling with many goodies, shops, and restaurants, from pancake houses to steakhouses. So, if you’re planning a trip there, you’ve got to try all the great food on this list.
Tex-Mex is generally considered a mix of both Mexican and Spanish food. Derived from the Tejano people of Texas, it’s a fusion of different traditions and has its birthplace in Mexico and Texas.
Pigeon Forge, while renowned for its Southern cuisine, also offers diverse dining options. And just because you’re in Tennessee doesn’t mean you only want to indulge in southern food, which is why we recommend trying Tex-Mex food. If you’re craving something spicy and beefy, try the chili con carne, a beefy spin on the classic chili. Tamales, fajita, enchiladas and nachos are great choices too. Furthermore, even if you don’t want to go for a full meal, you can still find great options like classic combos of chips and Salsa or chips and queso. What defines Tex-Mex dishes is the heavy use of ingredients like cumin, chili powder, tomatoes, cheese (a lot of it!), beef, and tortillas.
If you’re craving Mexican food in Pigeon Forge, look no further than Azul Cantina. They specialize in Tex-Mex classics and also offer delicious appetizers, entrees, and desserts. They also have numerous kinds of cocktails and cerveza-style lager.
Thanks to the abundance of catfish in southern rivers and lakes, the catfish has become iconic in the South. While first fished by Native Americans, Americans of European descent lay claim to the fried catfish.
It’s easily prepared and has a very distinct flavor. It has a mild and delicate taste, lacking that common “fishy” flavor, which makes it appealing to those who may not typically enjoy fish with a more pronounced taste. The texture of catfish is tender and slightly creamy when properly cooked.
For southern fried catfish, the most popular method of preparation is frying it in a cast-iron pan or a heavy-bottomed skillet, usually coated in seasoned cornmeal. Restaurants serve it with hushpuppies, lemon wedges, taters, and coleslaw. The catfish you’ll find in Pigeon Forge is so delicious that the city has been said to have the best catfish in East Tennessee.
Are you in the mood for some soul food? Try out Corn Chowder. Chowder is a great country meal, and it’s really popular in the South. It’s a creamy soup made with corn kernels, potatoes, onions, bacon or ham, and broth.
Corn chowder is prepared by first sautéing onions and bacon or ham in a pot. Then, corn kernels and diced potatoes are added into the pot so they can soften up. The mixture is simmered in a broth until the potatoes are soft. Finally, cream or milk is added to create a creamy consistency. The dish is seasoned with salt, pepper, and sometimes herbs and spices for more flavor. Grated cheese or crispy bacon bits can also be used as garnish. It tastes even better when you have baked bread on the side to eat with it. This meal is great for tourists who want something hearty and filling while on vacation in Pigeon Forge.
There are many different styles of barbecue found throughout the US, but you absolutely have to try the southern-style barbeque in Pigeon Forge. When cooked in an outdoor pit, the food has a smoke-like flavor that’s characteristic of southern barbecue.
Almost every restaurant in Pigeon Forge offers BBQ items. You can try pulled pork, barbecue sandwiches, pork spare ribs, or even country-fried steak. Smoked pork chops are also something you wouldn’t want to miss. You can also try fried green tomatoes or corn on the side to balance the heaviness of the pork. Whatever you prefer, local BBQ joints in Pigeon Forge offer some of the best barbecues you’ll probably ever taste.
No list is complete without dessert. In Pigeon Forge, you’ll find many bakeries and shops to satisfy your sweet tooth. Thanks to its abundance of apple orchards, you can find a great selection of apple desserts, from apple butter to fritters. That’s why if you ever find yourself in Pigeon Forge, you have to try the Apple Pie à la Mode.
It is a classic American dessert, and the term “à la mode” is of French origin, meaning “in the fashion.” For this pie, it refers to adding a scoop of ice cream. So, unlike a regular apple pie, the Apple Pie à la Mode has warm, cinnamon-infused apples that pair well with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The pie is usually made with locally sourced apples. Once sliced, these apples are spiced with cinnamon and sugar and baked in a butter crust. It’s something all pie enthusiasts should have a taste of at least once.
Moonshine refers to a kind of alcohol that used to be made with corn, usually homemade. It gets its name from the fact that it was historically produced at night (“under the light of the moon”). That’s because people wanted to avoid detection, since moonshine (or any distilled spirit) was considered illegal back in the day. However, this is no longer the case, and many moonshine distilleries have opened across the US. Tennessee is famous for its moonshine, and you can find many moonshine distilleries in Pigeon Forge. These distilleries often offer tours and tastings. When on a trip to Pigeon Forge, be sure to sample all the flavors.
Usually, these places offer fruit-infused moonshines. Typical fruit flavors include apple, blackberry, cherry, peach, and strawberry. These moonshines often have a sweet and fruity taste with a subtle kick of alcohol. Traditional, unflavored moonshine, often called “white lightning,” has a strong and straightforward taste. It’s usually high-proof (typically around 100-150 proof) and has a somewhat harsh flavor with that typical burning sensation that accompanies strong spirits.
There are many exciting places with delicious food waiting for you in Pigeon Forge. You’ll find tons of restaurants and bars with different varieties of cuisines for different palates. Just because Pidegon Forge is in the South doesn’t mean you should limit yourself to Southern food. Once there, you’ll have choices galore, from Mexican food to local specialties. So, use this list as a starting point, and then let your taste buds run wild once you’ve gone through it.