Finger-Licking Good: 7 Best Restaurants in Townsend, Tennessee

Peaceful Side Social Brewery and Craft Kitchen

Calling all foodies! If you appreciate trying local cuisine while vacationing, you’ll love what the quaint town of Townsend, Tennessee, offers. With a population of fewer than 1,000 people, the culinary scene is out of this world. Nestled next to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, here are the seven best restaurants in Townsend, the peaceful side of the Smokies.

Where To Eat and Best Restaurants in Townsend, Tennessee

Restaurants in Townsend, TN

Image Credit: The Happiness Function.

We’ve been dreaming of visiting the Smokies, so when the Smoky Mountain Development and Tourism Authority invited my husband and me to visit for a hosted stay, we jumped at the chance to experience three days in Townsend, Tennessee, and the surrounding area. 

If you’re in this neck of the woods visiting Cades Cove or one of the many other reasons to visit the Smoky Mountains, there are delicious places to eat. So instead of taking the “Townsend Wye” to Gatlinburg, mobilize you and your crew into Townsend.

Along with mouth-watering meals, all these restaurants cater to people with food sensitivities and allergies. I’m gluten-free and was able to enjoy myself at every meal. I also saw lots of options for people who are vegetarians at every restaurant. So, let’s start this food guide off with the best of the best.

1. Dancing Bear Appalachian Bistro – Modern Appalachian Cuisine

Dancing Bear Appalachian Bistro

Image Credit: The Happiness Function.

Dancing Bear Appalachian Bistro is where you’ll find modern Appalachian cuisine. Here, they rotate dishes to keep ingredients seasonal and grow many of their vegetables themselves. Dancing Bear also has a hydroponic gardening operation. Talk about farm-to-table and keeping it local.

Along with fine dining meals in an upscale casual ambiance, every plate is perfectly made and served to make your mouth water and taste buds explode. In addition, the bistro’s sommeliers offer wine and spirit pairings from high-quality brands all over the world.

If you’re lucky enough to catch the rainbow trout and creamy grits on the menu, be sure to order. You’ll probably never stop talking about it; it’s that good. The Appalachian lunchable, crème brulé, and chocolate martini are top-notch. You’ll be dreaming about your meal for weeks.

What’s so special about Dancing Bear is that the business is family-run and operated. Mrs. Oldham of Oldham Hospitality even runs the garden operation! With every bite, you can tell your food is made with love and perfectly curated by Chef Jeff Carter and his team.

The goal of Dancing Bear Appalachian Bistro is “Taking care of people no matter where they come from,” says Houston Oldham, Director of Operations at Oldham Hospitality of this award-winning restaurant.

2. Peaceful Side Social – Trendy and Fun Brewery + Craft Kitchen

Peaceful Side Social Brewery and Craft Kitchen

Image Credit: The Happiness Function.

Whenever my husband and I visit new towns, we always love eating where the locals eat, and Peaceful Side Social is that place. Known for their pizzas, they sell out often, so get to dinner early. At Peaceful Side Social, the food is vibrant, colorful, fresh, and tasty. So are the craft beers and drinks.

They have gluten-free options for those with dietary restrictions and beautiful combinations of farm-to-counter plates. Yes, gluten-free options include their cider. It pairs so well with the scrumptious quinoa bowl.

Here, foodies can enjoy indoor seating and outdoor seating on the covered patio. There is also a playground for the kids to run wild. This is the ultimate place for family, friends, and even couples who want to grab a pizza, appetizers, salads, and a few beers. Also, check out the Peaceful Side Social monthly calendar for live music on the patio.

This place is casual, so feel free to pop in after your day’s adventures floating the Little River or hiking in the Smokies.

3. Company Distilling – The Finest Tennessee Whiskey

Company Distilling

Image Credit: The Happiness Function.

Ready to relax with a spirit and some grub after mountain biking at Vee Hollow? Then head to Company Distilling. If you love whiskey or have never had it, this is the place to go.

One of the founders and Master Distiller, Jeff Arnett, was the Master Distiller at Jack Daniels and had a 20-year career with the global whiskey brand, which means Arnett and the team know how to make fine bourbon. In fact, Kevin Smith, the Director of Brewing and Distilling, is an expert leading the frontier on the science of fermenting.

At Company, Arnett says they are on a mission to help people “Gather around good company to enjoy spirits.” What’s fun about Company Distilling is that you can sample flights of their eight spirits made from corn, wheat, rye, or barley. They also offer tours of the Distillery. This place is so friendly; be sure to get a bottle of some of Tennessee’s finest whiskey!

4. The Townsend Abby – Amazing Comfort Food

Townsend Abby Restaurant

Image Credit: The Happiness Function.

Are you feeling like sitting outside, breathing Appalachian Mountain air by the Little River, and sipping a few brews? Then check out The Abby. They have excellent classic American cuisine and comfort food.

After exploring the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and Cades Cove all morning, my husband and I had a turkey sandwich with a pasta salad that was humungous and insanely delicious. For lunch, The Abby left me speechless and full. So, order your lunch to go and have a picnic in the park. The gluten-free brownies are epic.

5. Diamond Jack Wine Bar – High-End Food in a Casual Setting

Diamond Jack Wine Bar

Image Credit: The Happiness Function.

If you’re in the mood for high-end food in a casual setting, head to the Diamond Jack Wine Bar. Plan to have dinner or Sunday brunch so you can appreciate a meal with an expertly curated wine pairing. It’s actually in Maryville—about 20-30 minutes away from Townsend.

My husband and I had a starter salad followed by chicken, risotto, and all the fancy wines. It was delicious. I left dreaming of how they made the chicken and if I could recreate it and savor it at home—it was excellent.

Nothing is more fun than eating fantastic food paired with good wine when you’re on vacation. It’s so good for the soul. Hats off to owners Micah and Rachel Talley, who took a leap of faith during one of the world’s scariest times to start a business. They are quite proud of their food and wine list. Stop by for a great meal.

6. The Dancing Bean – Coffee and Baked Goods

The Dancing Bean

Image Credit: Oldham Hospitality.

For all the coffee lovers out there, this Townsend food guide has you covered. The Dancing Bean is located right off the parkway (Highway 321). So, pop into this cute coffee shop. They do in-house roasting, and the eye-popping home-baked goods will get you fueled for the day’s adventures. Don’t leave without grabbing a pastry or donut.

7. Towns End Coffee Co – Coffee and Morning Eats

Towns End Coffee Shop

Image Credit: The Happiness Function.

Also located off the parkway, minutes from Great Smoky Mountains National Park, grab your morning joe at the Towns End Coffee Co. It’s a quaint and adorable coffee shop with delicious treats. We got lattes with avocado toast – and holy guac-a-moly, the toast was amazing.

This place is close to Little Arrow Outdoor Resort and other places to camp, park your RV, or cozy up in rustic cabins for the weekend.

Thoughtful Food Made With Love

Dancing Bear Appalachian Bistro

Image Credit: The Happiness Function.

Whether you’re visiting for a romantic weekend getaway or a summer road trip to the Smokies, there are so many great things to do in Townsend, along with enjoying all the fantastic food.

Though the town is a gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it is not commercialized, but it is alive and trendy. Here, you can relax and enjoy the peaceful side of the Smokies like a local.

If you’re looking for the best restaurants in Townsend to complement your trip, these are the ones to choose from. You can expect beautiful food made thoughtfully and with love.

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Ashlee Fechino

Ashlee Fechino is an outdoor recreation and travel writer sharing the best-kept secrets that aren’t in your typical guidebook. Her goal is to inspire people to travel with a sense of adventure by sharing hidden gems across the U.S. and beyond. She is married to an expat Argentine, Pablo. They camp in their Aliner often and love wandering the world. Follow their latest adventures on Instagram @thehappinessfxn.


  1. R on May 30, 2023 at 9:20 am

    Just curious… did you visit Riverstone Family Restaurant or Good Vibes or Little River Pub? What about Artistic Bean and Bearly Grounds?

    • Ashlee Fechino on May 30, 2023 at 3:39 pm

      Thanks for the recommendations! We can’t wait to check them out next time. Have a great summer!

  2. Peaceful Side Social on May 26, 2023 at 5:24 pm

    Thank you for visiting Peaceful Side Social! We love your pictures and so happy you had a great time!

    • Ashlee Fechino on May 28, 2023 at 8:51 am

      Thanks for having us. We hope to be back again someday 🙂

  3. Josy A on April 22, 2023 at 11:13 am

    Ooooh it looks like Tennessee has some incredible food! I have never tried Appalachian cuisine so I fancy trying the dancing bear! Also the dessert at the Diamond Jack Wine Bar looks soooo good!

    • Ashlee Fechino on April 23, 2023 at 8:53 am

      The food in Townsend is amazing – we highly recommend these restaurants!

    • R on May 30, 2023 at 9:18 am

      True Appalachian cuisine won’t be found at any of these restaurants… all these are modern chef-driven dishes created IN the Appalachians, which I supposed could be defined as Appalachian cuisine. If you’re wanting what the hardy Appalachian people have eaten for generations, you’ll want to visit some other places.

      • Ashlee Fechino on May 30, 2023 at 3:38 pm

        Hi there, R! Thanks for reading our article. We can’t wait to visit again and we’ll check out more spots 🙂

  4. Yvonne on April 20, 2023 at 10:47 pm

    I have read so many great things about Tennessee lately. Perhaps I should visit the state and take a trip to Townsend to try some of this delicious food!

    • Ashlee Fechino on April 21, 2023 at 2:47 pm

      Sounds like Townsend, TN, is calling your name, Yvonne! Have a good time. We loved it there.

  5. Sharyn on April 19, 2023 at 5:28 pm

    There is food for everyone. I can see myself enjoying many of the dishes and washing them down with a a fine Tennessee whisky.

    • Ashlee Fechino on April 20, 2023 at 8:35 am

      Hi Sharyn – the food scene is unreal. Have a great time visiting!

      • Mary on May 22, 2023 at 7:08 pm

        Hey Yvonne, you named The Company Distilling in this group but I did not see any food dishes mentioned as offered by them. Do they have food? Or just Spirits?

  6. Jennifer on April 19, 2023 at 5:05 pm

    This is my FAV type of, does the food at all your recs look delicious!!! Love the variety of cuisines and atmosphere… filing away for a future visit.

    • Ashlee Fechino on April 20, 2023 at 8:35 am

      Thanks for reading, Jennifer. Have a great time visiting Townsend, Tennessee. It is a wonderful place.

  7. A Capone Connection on April 19, 2023 at 4:38 pm

    Everything looks so delicious. Just a few more reasons for me to love Tennessee. Thanks for sharing!

    • Ashlee Fechino on April 19, 2023 at 4:45 pm

      Tennessee is so special. Thanks for stopping by.

  8. Burt Randall on April 19, 2023 at 3:41 pm

    These restaurants sound great…

    You can tell I’m hungry !!

    • Ashlee Fechino on April 19, 2023 at 3:55 pm

      They were fantastic! Thanks for reading and leaving a comment.