Buffets are a great way to feed and please every member of your party.
Whoever invented the “buffet” style of dining deserves some credit in perennial parlance, but whoever perfected the science of it deserves their own holiday weekend. You can get as much food as you can eat? One price for over a dozen different types of food? A much better chance everyone can find something they want? Vacationing families the country and subsequent world over simultaneously whispered “Praise be to God” when this new type of dining became successful and spread throughout, and the Smoky Mountains are home to more than a few restaurant buffets between Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and Sevierville.
In this article, we’ll list a good number of the buffet restaurants we have and talk about what they serve, quality and value. Obviously, drawing a conclusion to what the “top” buffet is going to be quite a subjective term as different people have different ideas to what counts for value and quality, but this article should help bring some ideas to the buffet table all the same.
Let’s take a look at the choices:
Wood Grill Buffet
Price: Reasonably expensive ($15-$20 per person)
Food: Steaks, fried chicken, roast beef, hand-carved ham, seafood, tacos, pizza, burgers, hot dogs, desserts.
Notes: Not my favorite buffet in town, but I get a craving for Wood Grill from time to time. Food quality is sometimes mixed. The first time I ate there I REALLY enjoyed it. Hadn’t quite hit that zenith again since, but they definitely have some of the best chicken tenders I’d had in a buffet. One of the more expensive buffets in town, but you do get quite a big selection of food to try, rivaling Golden Corral’s. Not worth going out of your way to get there, but if its convenient and you want some really meaty meats for your dinner, Wood Grill is worth a shot.
Price: Reasonably inexpensive.
Food: Chinese, casual quality.
Notes: Not a particularly noteworthy buffet in terms of quality or selection, but that’s not a bad thing either. If you’re in the mood for a general Chinese buffet, China 1 is pretty convenient in Pigeon Forge and Sevierville and the price could be a lot worse. Service is pretty friendly. Also offers hibachi lunch, dinner and specific Chinese dishes which are not part of the buffet but are a step up in quality. Can get crowded due to its convenience in Pigeon Forge.
Captain Jim’s Seafood Buffet
Price: Quite expensive (though some prices include unlimited crab legs)
Notes: No personal experience (due to a seafood allergy). Hard to recommend due to the mixed-low reviews for it online and price. However, as of writing, it has scored 99 out of 100 on its recent health inspection and features more than 30 seafood items on the buffet. Curiously, it also offers a European grocery store onsite, of which we practically have nothing else like in the area. Very convenient to get to.
Aunt Granny’s Buffet
Price: Reasonable or quite expensive, depending on your perspective of needing to buy a Dollywood ticket to eat there first.
Food: Southern food staples – fried chicken, cornbread, beans,
Notes: Unlike the other restaurants on this list, you can only get to Aunt Granny’s if you purchase a ticket for Dollywood as the restaurant is part of the park, so it’s difficult to conventionally place as a good value. Aunt Granny’s is one of the longest lasting elements of Dollywood having been in service for nearly 30 years and while having a more limited selection of food than other buffets in the area, the food is still pretty high quality. Notably, it’s also one of the few places (maybe only place) on park to offer free refills for soft drinks.
Sakura’s Japanese Restaurant
Price: Reasonable (has discounted prices on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays)
Food: Chinese, Japanese Hibachi, sushi and some other general items.
Notes: Personally one of my favorite buffets in town and definitely my wife’s favorite buffet and Asian food place (she’s Japanese/Hawaiian/Filipino). The price is pretty reasonable for what you get, which is a mixture of the usual Chinese buffet selection but then adds Japanese soups, sushi, hibachi service and some other non-traditional Asian buffet items like bread rolls, pizza and some other things of that nature. This is a buffet I typically recommend at any given opportunity. The only points I would take away is that it doesn’t have much atmosphere and the servers often look like they’re having a hard day, although they routinely give quite good service. All in all a most excellent buffet. Avoid going on Sunday until at least 2:00PM as the after-church crowds REALLY love the place and it is often quite crowded until about then.
Price: Slightly expensive.
Food: Country-style foods, chicken, biscuits, ham, green beans, breakfast and much more.
Notes: Created and managed by one of the top restaurant groups in the area, Mama’s Farmhouse is definitely on the higher end of recommendations for buffets in the area, although maybe calling it a buffet might be a stretch. It is indeed “all-you-can-eat” but this restaurant does things differently to fit a theme. They bring food to you, you don’t go up and get it. They bring you what’s on the menu for the day and they keep bringing it to you until you’re finished. The very welcoming atmosphere and purely designed for large families to enjoy. Would not recommend for single visitors or groups less than 4 or 5, but big groups will definitely benefit highly here.
Reagan’s House of Pancakes
Price: Reasonably inexpensive.
Food: Pancake and country-style buffet
Notes: No personal experience. Reagan’s is very conveniently located on the parkway in downtown Pigeon Forge with two locations. Their breakfast buffet offers pancakes, french toast, bacon, sausage, biscuits and gravy and eggs. They offer additional breakfast and lunch options for those who aren’t interested in buffets for breakfast. Pancakes are a big deal and a big moneymaker in the Smokies so it is pretty surprising Reagan’s doesn’t charge more. Definitely a worthy consideration for families that wants to keep an eye on their budget.
Price: Rather expensive.
Food: Huge variety of meats, bakery items, salads and desserts.
Notes: Most of us know Golden Corral. There are two in Sevier County – one in Pigeon Forge on the parkway and one in Sevierville on Highway 66. The Pigeon Forge location is larger and more convenient. Price to eat is pretty high (at least for dinner) but you certainly get some keys to the kingdom for your buck and much of it is surprisingly high quality food (the Asian side might be more debatable). Very decadent, often pretty crowded and messy, but the service does what it can. If you’ve got money to burn and one heck of an appetite, Golden Corral is the way to go.
Price: Fairly inexpensive.
Food: Pizzas, spaghettis, salads and dessert pizzas.
Notes: Another chain buffet with locations in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and Sevierville. One of the cheapest in the area (especially if you have one of their discount cards), and while you get what you pay for for choosing the cheapest pizza in the area, on its own merit it’s not bad. I particularly like the breadsticks and barbecue chicken pizza. Most of their stuff is just “ok”, but you do get a range of it to try. Often has cartoons playing on TVs so a potentially good choice for younger families that just want to get the kids fed for a while without breaking the bank. Is connected to a small arcade as well. Discerning tastes need not apply at Cicis, but if you’re not picky and just want to get your belly fed for a good price, you could do a lot worse.
AND THE WINNER IS:
Sakura’s for the main categories of variety, price, convenience and taste. For larger groups or ones that don’t want Asian, Golden Corral pumps up price in addition to pumping up variety and taste, as well as being convenient overall.