#25 of 47 Gatlinburg Restaurants

Parton’s Deli

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Parton's Deli: A Gatlinburg Tradition For Good Reason
Local Expert's Rating:
4.5 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Rumor has it that Parton’s Deli in Gatlinburg is owned by a distant relative of Dolly Parton. That’s not the reason to visit, though. You’ll want to make the trip to Parton’s for their famous steamed sandwiches, precisely as delicious as they sound.

- The SmokyMountains.com Local Expert Team

There is nothing fancy about the Parton’s Deli décor. In fact, if you didn’t know what you were looking for you could easily pass by the nondescript exterior without giving it a second glance.

Nestled in the mountainside, Parton’s looks like it could have been a private home once – a stone foundation topped by a wood-framed upper floor in need of a paint job. The plain interior looks like it was last updated in the early 1970s, further emphasizing the point that the owners are far more interested in the food they serve than interior design. And, that’s a good thing.

There are hundreds of sub shops to choose from and thousands of diners that serve sandwiches. What sets Parton’s apart from the rest is the way they’ve been doing the same thing in the same way for more than 40 years. Stop in Parton’s Deli on any given day and you will likely find yourself standing in line for a while. After all these years, people who know good food know that they can find it in this nondescript little deli. Decorative flaws aside, it’s the food that keeps people coming back.

Surely, the owners of Parton’s know that they could update the décor, re-face the front of the building, and slap higher prices on their food. After all, Gatlinburg is a tourist town and slapping higher prices on things is sort of the way it’s done. The fact that they have not chosen to speaks to their dedication to the two things they’re known for – friendly service and tasty food.

Here are some examples of what keeps customers coming back to Parton’s Deli:

  • Steamed Sandwiches
    Everyone has enjoyed a cold sandwich and most people have eaten an oven-warmed sandwich, but there is something about steaming that really brings the flavor out. Imagine a simple turkey and provolone with green peppers and onions. A little time in the steamer marries the flavors in such a way that you’ll feel as though it’s the first turkey and provolone sandwich you’ve ever had. And in case you’re wondering; yes, a steamed sandwich tastes as good on a warm summer day as it does in the heart of winter.
  • Deviled Eggs
    If you’ve been to enough family reunions you’ve likely eaten more than your fair share of deviled eggs. The thing about this particular side is how easy it is mess them up. Too many condiments, too little seasoning – there are a number of ways to render them practically inedible. Parton’s seems to get them right every time and most customer reviews you read make some mention of how addictive they are.
  • Parton’s Deli Hot Dog
    A hot dog is a hot dog, right? Not so fast. Kids (and adults alike) love Parton’s dogs. If you’ve got a picky eater with you it’s nice to know hot dogs are an option. Their chili dogs are huge sellers for good reason. Parton’s buries their regular hot dog in warm, delicious chili and serves the entire concoction steamed.
  • Homemade Potato Salad
    If you’re just looking for comfort food, there’s nothing quite like potato salad that has been freshly crafted by hand.

One of the things that makes Parton’s so special (other than the fact that’s it’s not part of a national chain) is that everything tastes so fresh, like you’re stopping by a friend’s how for lunch. It is clear that the staff takes pride in their work and takes their time to give you precisely the meal you ask for.

Insider Tips:

  • Make sure you have cash on hand. Parton’s does not accept credit cards.
  • If you try the steamed hot dog, ask them to add kraut. The blend of flavors is unforgettable.
  • Going for a hike or simply want to enjoy an impromptu picnic? Stop at Parton’s first to fill your picnic basket. They’ve been doing it long enough to be experts.