While exploring the “Peaceful Side of the Smokies,” Townsend, Tennessee, and the vicinity also have a vibrant food scene. From Southern cuisine and authentic Italian to lip-smacking barbecue and gourmet dining, I have eight suggestions for fantastic restaurants near Townsend, Tennessee. As well as visiting these sites, I interviewed locals and asked for their recommendations. Although I have not tried the last three recommended restaurants, any local suggestion is worthy of a visit!
Here are eight of my favorite restaurants to try near Townsend in no particular order — followed by three more spots recommended by locals during my time in town.
I visited these sites during a press trip sponsored by Blount County and Fletcher PR. All opinions are my own.
1. Dancing Bear Appalachian Bistro, Townsend
Chef Carter carries on the award-winning tradition of Dancing Bear Appalachian Bistro. The menu is described as “refined Appalachian cuisine” and includes a variety of starters, salads, and entrees of beef, chicken, pork, and fish.
We were treated to a four-course gourmet meal, each course accompanied by hand-crafted bourbon drinks with Company Bourbon. Our first course was the “Appalachian Lunchable,” a great charcuterie board with shaved Benton’s Country Ham, pork and elk terrine, benne seed bacon, Cheshire Farms salami, tomato jam, vegetables, pimento cheese, whole grain mustard, and crackers. This is a charcuterie board fit for a king — or queen! The first course was accompanied by “In Good Company,” Company Bourbon and Amaro Arancie with blood orange and 3-mile honey.
The house smoked trout cake — teamed with “Comeback Sauce,” pickled green beans, smoked creme fraiche, and paddlefish caviar — made a delicious second course. This course was accompanied by the hand-crafted drink “The Company We Keep,” Company Bourbon, peach liquor, prosecco, and bitters.
The porcini-dusted charred ribeye filet literally melted in my mouth! The meat was so tender and flavorful. The ribeye was accompanied by Country Ham-wrapped asparagus, baby carrots, smoked salsify puree, and foie gras jus. “Company Man” was the cocktail we enjoyed with this course.
Our evening wrapped up with us enjoying dessert around the fire pit consisting of apple treats and blue cheese ice cream teamed with Company Bourbon served neat; a fine finish to a fine evening!
2. Amici Pizza, Pasta & Beer, Maryville
Ask a local for dining recommendations and one of the common suggestions is Amici, the popular Italian restaurant in Maryville. Their menu offers authentic Italian food with small plates, pasta, mains, pizza, and desserts. We enjoyed a catered lunch with the opportunity to sample various dishes. Our favorites included smoked trout bruchetta, apple & arugula salad, shrimp risotto, braised beef and mushroom rotolo, and lamb bolognese. Amicis offers on-site dining, curbside service, delivery, and catering.
3. Little River Pub & Deli, Townsend
Located along the peaceful Little River in Townsend is the Little River Pub & Deli. They offer a variety of savory bites, sandwiches, soups, chili, paninis, and desserts. Local craft beers are available. Seating is inside or outdoors in the beer garden. Little River Pub & Deli also offers catering and box lunches. I enjoyed the “Jenny Lea” sandwich with turkey, provolone cheese, pesto mayo, lettuce, tomato, and onion. All sandwiches are served with gourmet kettle chips. Servings are very generous. Consider a box lunch for your next visit to Cades Cove.
4. Dancing Bean Coffee House, Townsend
A must-visit is the Dancing Bean Coffee House & Bakery for all things coffee. Coffee beans are roasted on-site. They boast of roasting green coffee beans with “the most consistent, controllable, and sustainable roaster in the world.” Delicious pastries are sold fresh daily. Dancing Bean also offers kombucha, smoothies, bubble teas, and craft sodas. You can choose your seating either inside with fire-side seating or on the outdoor deck. Board games and free Wi-Fi are delightful extras.
5. Apple Valley Mountain Village & Cafe, Townsend
For a delicious lunch, stop at Apple Valley Mountain Cafe. The lunch menu offers burgers, house-made sandwiches, and cafe classics like chicken sandwiches, pulled pork, and brisket. We particularly enjoyed the “Smoky Mountain Chicken Sandwich” with the “secret blend of spices” and granny apples. Another favorite is the “Off The Hook Fish Sandwich,” a mild fish deep-fried in tempura batter and coated with crushed potato chips.
Inside seating is offered as well as seating in the beer garden. You can also order box lunches to go.
Pro Tip: Purchase some of the signature fried apple pies for later. Then enjoy shopping at the adjacent Apple Valley Mountain General Store with a wide variety of souvenirs, preserves, and mouth-watering fudge!
6. Full Service BBQ, Maryville
For lip-smacking Southern barbecue, we had Full Service BBQ cater one of our lunches at Little Arrow Outside Resort. Full Service BBQ’s menu includes barbecue sandwiches, meats by the pound, and sides. Also offered are nachos, burritos, and quesadillas. We enjoyed pulled pork with classic sides like baked beans, mac and cheese, potato salad, grannies green beans, and rolls. Full Service BBQ has several area restaurants with on-site buffets, catering, and food trucks.
Check also for their food trucks in locations at events around Townsend and Maryville.
7. Burger Master Drive-In Restaurant, Townsend
Celebrating its 65th year of operation, Burger Master Drive-In Restaurant is a local favorite. Stop for mouth-watering burgers of delicious Braveheart black angus beef. Be sure to save some room for their signature desserts — a variety of “utterly ice cream” dishes.
We enjoyed the classic cheeseburger and fries. Next visit, I plan to order the “Mountain Man Burger” topped with French-fried onions, jalapeños, and jam!
The outside seating is a delight. After your meal, take a stroll along the Little River or enjoy antiquing in town.
Pro Tip: Although very busy at popular meal times, the service is speedy, and one can relax in the covered outside dining area.
8. Peaceful Side Social Brewery & Craft Kitchen, Townsend
Enjoy locally crafted beer and farm-to-table fare at Peaceful Side Social Brewery & Craft Kitchen. Choose from 14 specialty beers and team with delicious sharables, salads, sandwiches, round breads, and mains. We particularly enjoyed the “Power Bowl Salad” with quinoa, grain blend, edamame, and fresh vegetables, all deliciously topped with citrus vinaigrette and avocado. Servings are generous, and you might want to share. Another favorite of mine is the “Half Chicken” served with white barbecue sauce. It is also delicious cold!
Peaceful Side Social strongly believes in giving back to the Smoky Mountain community and provides funding to four community agencies: Townsend/Cades Cove Gateway Alliance, Little River Watershed Association, Great Smoky Mountains Institute At Tremont, and Keep Bount Beautiful — their initiative is titled “Sip, Savor, and Support.”
Pro Tip: Peaceful Side Social is a local favorite. Avoid lineups by arriving earlier or later than popular meal times.
9. The Walnut Kitchen, Maryville
Check out their special events, including a dinner featuring wines from Willamette Valley Vineyard — a vineyard right near some of my favorite Oregon wineries. On Friday and Saturday evenings, the Chef Tasting Experience is offered to feature a multi-course specialty menu with paired wine tastings.
10. Foothills Milling Company, Maryville
Foothills Milling Company offers delicious Southern cuisine with locally-sourced ingredients. Look for appetizers, including buffalo-style frogs legs and fried green tomatoes. Entrees include beef, fish, duck, salmon, and pork dishes.
11. Becky’s Grocery & Grill, Maryville
Becky’s Grocery & Grill features hearty comfort food. Choose your favorite burgers, sandwiches, sides, salads, and plate lunches.
As well as enjoying the stunning nature, history, and accommodations around Townsend, take a culinary journey and visit some of the restaurants the locals and I have recommended. I am confident you will be as delighted as we were!
After a trek through Townsend’s culinary scene, check out these Tennessee destinations: