Eating barbeque (or BBQ depending on where you are from) is a serious business. When the calendar turns to Dollywood’s Barbeque and Bluegrass Festival Presented By BUSH’S® every year I know I am going to hear some of the best bluegrass music played anywhere and, quite possibly, I might lose another belt hole.
Let’s be frank, there is more barbeque on the menu at Dollywood than you can safely eat in one visit so you’d better plan on two or more days to make sure everything on the menu is given an equal chance. Now, on to the strategy:
I like to start closest to the Celebrity Theatre where folks like Rhonda Vincent and Dailey and Vincent are performing. I like to whet my appetite for dinner so I would start with the incredible Grilled Watermelon Salad with feta cheese to keep it light. From there, I dive right into the mother lode of meat. The Smokehouse Meat sampler has dry rubbed ribs, smoked sausage and pulled pork. You have a choice of three sauces (Apple Butter, Sweet & Mild, Blackberry), but I like the Blackberry sauce on my pulled pork. We make all three sauces here at Dollywood. Really, you can’t go wrong on any of the three! On top of that sampler, I like to add some Roasted Corn to make sure I have rounded out my meal.
After pushing back from the picnic table, a few deep breaths and maybe a leisurely stroll down Showstreet and end up at the Backporch Theatre to catch a show, I am ready for some dessert. Nothing says summer to me like Strawberry Shortcake. It has the sweetness of a summer breeze. At Dollywood, your portion size is larger than normal so after all of that, I need to take a break for a show to get ready for a second day of great barbeque.
Dollywood has great artists every day of the festival, so regardless of what brings you back for your second culinary adventure, you know you will hear some great live music. On day two, I would try to grab a snack of Pork Belly Mac and Cheese while you decide your next choice for a great barbeque meal. The decision could be a tough one because right in Market Square you have a choice of a BBQ Bowl full of roasted potatoes and onions topped with slow-smoked pork BBQ and coleslaw. When I say it is slow-smoked, I am talking 14 hours. S-L-O-W. If you like sweet and savory together, you just need to step behind Market Square and get a Chicken and Waffle Funnel Cake from Crossroads Funnel Cake. It will set you free!
If a sit-down experience is something you desire, I like to eat at The Front Porch Café. I start with the BBQ Pork Nachos. It has that incredible 14-hour slow-smoked pulled pork. I then follow it up with a BBQ platter with the chicken breast and smoked sausage. It’s served with BUSH’S® best Hickory Pit Beans and some potato salad. After all of that, I make the quick walk to the Spotlight Bakery and grab a Maple Bacon Cupcake. Yum!
That is only the tip of the iceberg for Dollywood’s barbeque. To get the full picture, you would still need to explore the menus at Miss Lillian’s, Ham and Beans, Hickory House and Lumber Jack’s Pizza. They all have incredible barbeque items of their own. Enjoy!