Calhoun’s in Pigeon Forge

Calhoun's Pigeon Forge: The BBQ That's Charmed Countless SEC Football Fans
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Calhoun's offers a two-page menu with plenty of options for healthy eaters. It's mainly for carnivores, though. The pork dishes are all divine, and Calhoun's serves them with its proprietary BBQ sauce, featuring a flavor so good you can send it to out-of-town friends as a Christmas gift each year.

- The Local Expert Team

When you visit the Smoky Mountains, you want to enjoy an authentic East Tennessee experience, and nothing is more authentic than SEC football. One of the traditions for fans of visiting teams is to exit Neyland Stadium and head over to the best BBQ joint in town. In Pigeon Forge, you can eat the same mouth-watering BBQ without fighting all the football traffic, at Calhoun’s.

Located at 2532 Parkway, Calhoun’s Pigeon Forge is easy to reach since it’s right off the main road in town. You know that you’ve arrived once you see the unmistakable waterwheel outside. The building is part of The Shops at Walden’s Landing, which was once Ogle’s Water Park.

Eating at Calhoun’s is one of the purest joys in East Tennessee. The restaurant’s appeal speaks for itself, as it’s equally popular with tourists and locals. It’s a multi-time winner of the coveted Best of Knoxville reader awards, which means it wins the popular vote for best BBQ in East Tennessee regularly.

You should expect to pay about $20 per person for your meal. For that money, you’ll enjoy a savory BBQ meal that’s arguably the best available in the Smoky Mountains. Calhoun’s is a weekly tradition for many families in the area. Despite having a deep list of other options, you’ll keep coming back to East Tennessee’s finest BBQ restaurant.

While there are tons of great options, some of the most popular are listed below:

Beer Cheese Dip with Tortilla Chips
The consistency of the beer cheese varies, but the flavor is always spectacular.

Fried Mozzarella
Calhoun’s changed the recipe in 2017 to make the cheese sticks bigger and more crumbly.

Pulled Pork Nachos
They pair perfectly with the included Smoky Mountain Baked Beans, and you also get the beer cheese with this appetizer.

Cheeseburger with American Cheese
Wednesdays are Burger Night at all of Calhoun’s restaurants. You can eat one for $6!

Hickory Smoked Bar-B-Que Pork Plate
Calhoun’s has two signature dishes. This one is the lighter of the two, which is ridiculous but true. You’ll receive the largest plate of BBQ pork that you’ve ever seen.

Hickory Smoked BarB-Que Ribs
These are the alpha and omega of BBQ ribs stacks for SEC fans. You have to try them when you eat at Calhoun’s.

“Ale” Steak
This is a hearty 10 ounces of protein topped with a mind-blowing Worcestershire butter.

The Copper Cellar Family of Restaurants owns and operates nine different Calhoun’s restaurants in East Tennessee. This company also owns Smoky Mountain Brewery, which is only a few steps away from Calhoun’s in Pigeon Forge. The two restaurants share many of the same menu items, but only Calhoun’s can claim a place on countless Best Gameday Restaurants lists.

Smoky Mountain Brewery (SMB) is a great place to sample a few craft beers, though. They also have live performances plus games and trivia nights. Due to shared management, you can find out about entertainment options at SMB when you’re at Calhoun’s. Lots of tourists visit both places during one stop.

Insider Tips:
-The restaurant has a few televisions, but they’re in the bar area. If you want to watch a game while you eat, tell the hostess when you check-in. You won’t have to wait for a table. The bar section is first come, first served. You won’t miss anything by eating here, either. Many of the tables are the same. If you need a booth, avoid the bar, though. It doesn’t have any.
-Calhoun’s also offers an otherworldly brunch on Sundays. If you visit on this day, you can try the giant waffles and pig-sized sausage links. A good strategy is for one member of your party to order the brunch and another to order a plate of BBQ. That way, you can share the deliciousness.