Thick curtains separate Bistro 109’s interior from the light and clamor of the street, allowing for the intimacy of a meal shared by flickering candlelight. The quiet dining room also contrasts with the bistro’s kitchen, where chefs glaze duck breast with Vermont maple syrup and sear filets of yellowtail tuna. While they craft these and other dishes from sustainable and organic ingredients, a musician stationed in the front of the restaurant taps the ivories on a baby grand piano and twirls his finger around the rims of nearby wine glasses.
A statue of Old MacDonald himself greets visitors to Ripley’s Old MacDonald’s Farm Mini Golf, a floppy straw hat casting a shadow across his overalls. His arm is locked in a neighborly wave in front of a gauntlet of animated farm animals and barnyard scenes surrounding three 18-hole mini-golf courses. Ceramic pigs sun themselves alongside a winding stream and wily rabbits poke their heads out of burrow holes. A classic red barn serves as the clubhouse, where players can discuss highlights of the round and arcade games release happy digital chatter like a calculator dreaming about pi.
CiCi’s Pizza combines the variety of a buffet with the thrill of bottomless pizza. Each pie is crafted with dough made from scratch daily and then slathered with homemade marinara and showered with toppings ranging from traditional pepperoni and Italian-style sausage to creative combinations including buffalo chicken and mac 'n' cheese. The buffet is stocked with a plethora of fresh pastas, as well as signature salads with the option to put tossing talents to the test at the salad bar. After they've feasted on savory options, diners can revisit the buffet for dessert including freshly baked brownies, slices of apple pizza, and cinnamon rolls drizzled with icing—or they can eat dessert first, thereby tearing an irreparable hole in the space-time continuum.
At Big Daddy's Pizzeria, a 550-degree wood-fired brick oven bakes handcrafted dough, house-made sauces, and fresh ingredients into specialty pizzas. The Pigeon Forge eatery is the newest of five restaurants owned by the Johnson family—a local family that has nourished Sevier County with fresh cuisine for the past 20 years. Chefs cover 10- and 12-inch thin crusts with their traditional palomino sauce—a fusion of homespun alfredo and marinara—before tossing the pies with gourmet soy-cheese, gorgonzola, prime-rib, or pine-nut toppings. The Johnsons' house-made focaccia cushions wood-fired sandwiches, and glasses brim with draft beers and wine. In the spacious dining room, a pastoral countryside mural and framed artwork beam down upon cushy red booths and white-clothed tables, while a wooden awning and brick walls surround an outdoor patio. At the Pigeon Forge location, a brand-new arcade entertains guests with video games, providing a welcome diversion from thinking about how their stomachs are as happy as a dentist swimming through the Colgate factory's toothpaste river.
At The Mafia House, Godfather-style script crawls across the building and the heading of the menu, acting as a prelude to the mobster-themed pizza parlor's offerings. Scarface Starters, including garlic rolls dusted with a three-cheese blend, give way to notoriously named Columbo's Calzones and Machine Gun hot subs stuffed with pastrami or inside violin cases. Hand-tossed New York-style pizzas are made with fresh dough and sauce and topped with fresh ingredients that range from piles of pepperoni to medleys of fresh tomato, ham, and salami.
At Kinkaku Japanese Steak House, the chefs show off their culinary chops by preparing sushi and hibachi in front of visitors’ eyes. At the sushi bar, they slice morsels of sashimi or roll aesthetically pleasing creations of rice and pieces of seafood that include spicy tuna, eel, and shrimp tempura. The maki rolls are held together by sheets of nori, deep-green seaweed paper tinged with salinity.
At teppanyaki tables, several diners sit around a wide flat grill and watch food transform before their eyes. In a clattering flurry of knives and spatulas, chefs prepare piles of chicken teriyaki, scallops, and steak before serving them with veggies, fried rice, and shrimp. Revelry swells as servers carry out trays of sake and imported Japanese beers and hide pamphlets about how many teddy bears get thrown into the ocean each year.
There are no waiters at Private Dinner Chef, but that doesn't mean guests lack personal attention—far from it. Instead, clients get the total attention of the chef from the moment they choose their menu until the moment they suddenly awake from their post-dinner nap. Before each meal, chefs visit local markets to get fresh ingredients for the dinner they'll be making that night. They know what to look for because diners select what their dinner will consist of in advance. The seven-course feast that follows might include steamed lobster in lemon butter sauce, boneless prime rib with a pepper-and-herb crust, or seared Atlantic salmon coated in red-pepper salsa. The meal takes place in a setting that's as sumptuous as the food: a private room within former bed-and-breakfast. Set amid dark wood is a fieldstone fireplace, in case someone has a letter they want to burn dramatically.