Ah, it is springtime in the Smokies and time for Festival of Nations at Dollywood. It is one of my family’s favorite times to go to the park to enjoy the entertainment from around the world but we all also love the Food. They always whip up some international inspired foods to celebrate the festival. Whether it is Asian inspired, made to order stir fry or Dollywood’s version of a French Crepe, the festival food always adds to the experience.
It got me thinking, I wonder how many other restaurants there are in the area that features international cuisine. Rest assured, I went looking.
The Wild Plumb Tea Room in the Glades area of Gatlinburg is first on my list. It has been around for more than 30 years and its Austrian inspired menu, handed down from family member to family member but adapted for our times. The Tea Room always offers something unique and different. Their specialty is a traditional tea room chicken salad. I have had it before and it is excellent with fruit and a warm scone. On the day I ate there, however, I had a Norwegian salmon burger with lemon caper aioli sauce. Spectacular!
Some folks are dubious of restaurants in strip centers but the family owned Thai Basil in Sevierville is a treat. I had lunch there and went for the really affordable special. My meal consisted of Tom Kha (Coconut Soup) and Pad Thai with a medium temperature chicken, beef and pork. Now, “medium” is relative and “my medium” is not quite as hot as the family at Thai Basil but it was great. You might just want to be careful if you have any sensitivity to spicy food.
If you have something German (or Belgian) in mind, I love Poynor’s Pomme Frites at the Island in Pigeon Forge. I love their Weisswurst (Pork, Veal, lemon zest and parsley). You pair it with the Pomme Frites (French Fries or chips if you are a Brit) and a selection of sauces and you have a great meal, sehr gut! There are also a variety of interesting desserts including Spaghetti Ice – “noodles” made from vanilla ice cream, topped with a chocolate meatball and two sugar cookies.
My last stop is No Way Jose’s in Gatlinburg across from Ripley’s Aquarium. While this local chain restaurant is more Tex-Mex than authentic Mexican recipes, it does have some great options for lunch. I like the Flautas (fried tortillas) with chicken and Chipotle Cream Cheese. It is the right mix of creamy and spicy. I also like their Carnitas (orange and cilantro braised pork) served with corn tortillas a cilantro lime sauce. If you are looking for something to wash down that food, their Cuervo Tijuana Cadillac Margarita is excellent served with Cointreau and Grand Marnier but go easy! Vaya!
So when you come to the Smokies this spring, make sure you sample at Dollywood’s Festival of Nations, enjoy the great music and maybe grab a ride on Lightning Rod (maybe in reverse order) then explore the surrounding countryside and sample all the area has to offer!