There’s more to Dollywood than rides, crafts, and music shows. The theme park is also a food lover’s dream come true. It’s chock full of sweet treats and hearty meals, including everything from BBQ to cinnamon bread.
If there’s a downside to the culinary scene at Dollywood, it’s that tasty treats can sometimes be scarce for people with significant dietary restrictions. Vegans and gluten-free visitors, in particular, are forced to navigate limited menu options. Even vegetarians may struggle to find filling meals they enjoy. This can be particularly frustrating when visiting the park with less restrictive friends or family members.
The good news? Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options are more abundant than they might seem at first glance. A few menu items that fall under these restrictions can be found at various onsite restaurants, while others are available at nearby establishments. Keep the following in mind as you seek out a meal that works for you:
Miss Lillian’s Barbecue Corner
Gluten-free visitors should enjoy the enticing hickory-smoked turkey legs available at Miss Lillian’s. Fresh-cut potatoes and roasted corn are also available. While they’re technically vegetarian, they can be fried in oil upon request to satisfy vegan cravings. A counter-service location, Miss Lillian’s is best reserved for when you need grab-and-go sustenance.
As the ultimate theme park ice cream treat, Dippin’ Dots might seem like an automatic no-no for vegans. In reality, however, it offers a wonderful option for dairy-free visitors: Rainbow Ice. Before you order, however, keep in mind that this flavor may have come into contact with options that include dairy.
Front Porch Cafe
While many gluten-free eaters prefer to avoid asking for accommodations, this approach will definitely expand your menu options if you stop by Dollywood’s Front Porch Cafe. From grilled chicken to Reuben sandwiches, a significant share of the restaurant’s entrees can be enjoyed by gluten-free visitors, so long as the need for adjustments is made clear.
The Front Porch Cafe also offers numerous menu items that appeal to vegetarians. Feel free to order the veggie burger or the veggie salad. Appetizers such as fried green tomatoes and onion rings will please both vegetarians and their meat-loving companions.
Aunt Granny’s Buffet
Visiting a buffet can feel like a chore when you’re relegated to the salad bar, but the selection at Aunt Granny’s is sufficient to keep many vegetarians happy. The entire salad area is worth hitting up, of course, but a few of the buffet’s entree items are also meat-free. Don’t forget to load up on cooked cabbage and turnip greens. Who knew you could eat so healthy at a theme park?
El Ranchero Loco
Less than a ten-minute drive from Dollywood, El Ranchero Loco makes for the perfect stop after a long day of exploring the theme park. Relax with a delicious horchada as you order off the vegetarian menu. You’ll be impressed by the veggie chimichangas, fajitas, and taco salad. Accommodations are also possible for gluten-free diners.
Smokies Cuban Cafe
This charming cafe serves authentic Cuban dishes that are sure to please. Before heading to Dollywood, grab a breakfast sandwich with Cuban bread, tomato, olive oil, and garlic. Other favorites include fried plantains, cheese empanadas, and guava pastries.
Frizzle Chicken Farmhouse Cafe — Breakfast Only
If you prefer to watch animatronic chickens instead of eating real ones, stop in at Frizzle Chicken Farmhouse Cafe for a hearty and decidedly entertaining breakfast. Vegetarian options include pancakes, waffles, and French toast. What’s more, the pancakes and waffles can be served gluten-free on request. The lunch menu is meat-heavy, however, so think twice if you crave non-breakfast items.
It may be a national chain, but Mellow Mushroom is arguably the best Pigeon Forge option for vegetarians and gluten-free visitors. Its diverse menu includes meat-free soups and salads, but the pizza is clearly the main attraction.
Any Mellow Mushroom specialty pie can be made with a gluten-free crust. Several are loaded with veggies and mushrooms instead of meat, with the build-your-own ingredient list also including such staples as tofu and tempeh. The fifteen-minute drive may not be as convenient as eating right at Dollywood, but many vegetarian and gluten-free vacationers are willing to make the brief commute for the sake of selection.
Locavores appreciate the emphasis on sustainability at Pigeon Forge’s Local Goat. While the restaurant’s FAQ cautions that it makes no claims of being fully gluten-free, several menu items should be safe for gluten-sensitive visitors. Vegetarians will be pleased with the stuffed piquillo peppers and Mediterranean salad, as well as the portobello burgers and an option that fans of The Office will love: The Schrute Burger.
While finding vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options can be frustrating at times, there’s no need to go without when you visit Dollywood. Don’t let your dietary restrictions or preferences get in the way of experiencing the magic of your favorite theme park.