How is the location of Calhoun’s in Gatlinburg, Tennessee? Calhoun’s is right along the main Parkway, just a short walk from the center of the strip. It’s a little busier than some of the more out of the way BBQ spots in the area--but, our party of five was seated without a wait (twice) even during the busy dinner rush.
How was the service and atmosphere at Calhoun’s? Calhoun’s is a pretty casual, family friendly spot. The dining areas are spacious with high ceilings and lots of spaces for visually interesting décor--like a huge trout stream mural adorning one wall and a stuffed black bear perched on an overhead beam. The hostess staff was friendly--until we requested a different table. We were originally seated at what I would say is the only “bad” table in the restaurant--two chairs extend into a busy aisle way and two other chairs are literally against an adjoining table’s chair. Even our two little girls were unable to squeeze into one of the chairs. There were other open tables, but the hostess made it clear that we were inconveniencing her by requesting a move. Our actual server was friendly and accommodating. Although our service was a little slow, our needs were met well enough throughout the meal.
What about the food at Calhoun’s in Gatlinburg? We are a family of BBQ fans--so my husband, especially, was excited to try Calhoun’s “best ribs in the U.S.”. Our server brought a basket of warm rolls and cornbread muffins while we were looking through our menus.
Bread Basket at Calhoun's
The girls had never had unsweetened, Southern cornbread--it wasn’t a hit with them--but, it tasted exactly like the cornbread that I remembered my Grandma making in an old iron skillet--it made me happy!
Kid's Meals at Calhoun's
The two little girls ordered from the kids’ menu which had a wide selection of options. One chose chicken strips and the other chose a pork sandwich--but, requested no bun--she just wanted the saucy pulled pork.
Both girls enjoyed their meals--even the macaroni and cheese side dishes which are always hit or miss with their tastebuds.
Calhoun's Hickory BurgerThe older daughter was ready for a burger--and the Hickory Burger suited her mood.
The burger was cooked well--and had just the right amount of spicy BBQ sauce for her liking.
Calhoun's Hickory Smoked BBQ Pork Plate.
I ordered the Hickory Smoked BBQ Pork Plate which was served with cole slaw. I opted for the Spinach Maria as my side dish.
I really liked Calhoun’s BBQ sauce--there was a slight hint of vinegar and lots of spice. The cole slaw was fresh and the Spinach Maria, a creamy, cheese topped spinach dish, was also good.
My husband chose the Calhoun’s Trio, including baby back ribs, chicken tenders, and hickory smoked pork. The trio was served with slaw and he added the Smoky Mountain Baked Beans as a side dish.
The baby back ribs were delicious--and ribs are not my favorite form of bbq. I wished we had opted to split a plate of ribs instead of ordering separate meals (we will if we ever return)! The baked beans had a rich, barbecue sauce that we all agreed was better than others we have had in similar restaurants.
We also ordered a Cherokee Red Ale (brewed in the brewery next door) and a Velas Hellas--both of which were priced well for the quality and the quantity.
Our overall opinion of Calhoun’s on the Gatlinburg Parkway? The restaurant atmosphere was nice--even during a crowded dinner rush. The service was okay--not overly friendly--but, it was the dinner hour and we certainly were not neglected. The food was definitely worth the trip--and with the exception of the kids’ drinks, everything was priced as expected. I was a little surprised to pay $4 for a child’s sized milk with one refill--but, we would definitely return and we would definitely recommend Calhoun’s to others. There are also family sized, take out specials that make it a little easier to feed larger groups at the hotel or cabin!
If you visit--you need to try the ribs and the baked beans--even if those are not your usual favorites. Parking is available nearby for visitors--but, because it’s right on the Parkway--it was faster and easier to walk than drive. Overall, it was family friendly and worth the visit! Check out the Calhoun's website for menus, special offers and links to the other restaurants in the family chain.
Disclaimer: We were not compensated for this review in any way--we just wanted to share our experiences with our readers!