Before or after a day of exploring Dollywood, the Great Smoky Mountains or anywhere in Sevier County Tennessee, you are surely looking for a great place to eat. Here are two suggestions, both locally-owned and with boatloads of history and character.
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The Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant in Sevierville, TN
The Applewood Farm is a destination in itself. It includes two restaurants, a cider mill and barn, an ice cream store and a gift shop showcasing everything apple-related. Perched on the banks of the Little Pigeon River, it’s a lovely place to slow down and enjoy the moment.
The original Applewood Farmhouse restaurant is the oldest building in Sevier County TN. Built in 1920 as a family home, it is just as adorable and cozy as you would expect from a farmhouse. And it remained a family home until 1980 when the apple operation just took over the space.
While visiting, taking time to look around the house and appreciate the beautiful hand-carved woodwork and cabinetry. The master craftsman behind these beautiful cabinets was Lewis Buckner, a man born into slavery who was freed after the Civil War and contributed to dozens of homes and businesses in Sevier County. There’s a historical plaque in his honor on the courthouse square not far from the Dolly Parton statue.
What to Eat at the Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant
The farmhouse has been expanded over the years to include a few of these fun swing seats on what had been the side porch. I could see myself falling out of those without much effort.
The menu is as authentic as you would expect from a place called the Farmhouse restaurant. Lots of comfort food in the form of pot roasts and fried chicken and meatloaf. My husband had the meatloaf and said it was better than mine. But he was most excited about the mashed potatoes. They are real potatoes, not some powdered mix like might be expected for a restaurant that serves 5,000 meals a day in high season.
But whatever you order, make sure you get a basket of those apple fritters. Oh my gosh! So perfect and yummy, and you convince yourself the apples inside make them healthy with a big slab of butter.
I ate so many apple fritters, I didn’t even have room for the homemade blackberry cobbler. Normally, I would commit a federal crime in order to enjoy blackberry cobbler.
An interesting note about eating at the Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant: Chef Roman Campbell works closely with students at the Sevier County High School. This public high school has one of the top culinary arts programs in the U.S. And these teenagers are getting some hands-on practical experience in the kitchens of the Applewood Farmhouse.
Eating at Graze Burgers in downtown Sevierville, TN
Another place we enjoyed eating in Sevierville is a restaurant called Graze Burgers. Just a few steps from the Dolly Parton statue on the courthouse grounds, Graze has kind of boring exterior, let’s be honest. But inside, outback and along an alleyway, Graze Burgers is yummy delicious, entertaining and just an inviting place to be.
Dino Angelo opened the place in February 2019 in a building that had been sitting empty for eons. History of the place says it once was home to a bicycle repair shop and exotic bird store.
I told him that he should have a parrot and old bicycle somewhere in the decor. But instead, he went with a simple industrial look, relying on local crafts people to help with light fixtures throughout, including the bathrooms. I love a restaurant that pays attention to the bathrooms.
He also saved the original wooden floors. He thinks they are oak and they were originally milled in Missouri.
Check out this burger. This is where Graze Burgers really gets its name. Oh those fries. These are the best hamburgers in the Smoky Mountains.
But I’m a sucker for fried green tomatoes.
So this is what I got when placing that order. Yikes! It was so yummy, covered with house made pimento cheese and bacon jam.
Again, I was so full, after stealing a few of Bruce’s French Fries, I didn’t have room for Bourbon Banana Cream Pie.
There are lots of food choices in a tourist destination like Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. But when you seek out a locally-owned business with a bit of history and charm, you have then made a connection and contribution to the community and the people who live there. That’s a good thing.