Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen, which opened in April of 2015, is quickly becoming one of the most popular restaurants in the Smoky Mountains region. As soon as you enter the 20,000 square foot restaurant and store, you will know you have found something special. The 300-seat restaurant is perfectly located at the popular The Island development just off the main Parkway in Pigeon Forge.
Due to the popularity of this highly-anticipated restaurant, wait times can easily exceed one hour. However, the restaurant will give you a pager that easily reaches all of the attractions and shops at The Island and the time is sure to fly by. While you are waiting, be sure to take in the $3 million Vegas-style fountain and light show directly across from Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen. The fountain show, which occurs on the top and bottom of each hour, was designed by the same engineer that created the world-famous Bellagio fountains. In addition to the fountain shows, there are dozens of popular shops, a towering 200′ observation wheel, and plenty of entertainment options to take in while you wait.
Once your wait is over, the hostess will direct you up an escalator to the expansive dining room. The three-level tiered seating in the spacious dining room provides each and every guest with a view of the gorgeous fountain show, The Island, and even the Smoky Mountains in the distance. The decor and atmosphere of the restaurant stays true to Paula’s southern roots while simultaneously feeling like a high-end version of country chic.
A few of our menu favorites include the following:
It is difficult to imagine a more perfect Southern icon than Paula Deen or a more Southern food than fried grits. While Yankees might turn their noses up at the idea of this breakfast creation, they will be converted the moment they taste it. The homemade grits are blended with cheese, seasoning, and batter prior to deep frying. YUM!
Best Ever Southern Fried Chicken
Every reputable restaurant in town serves this Southern staple. However, only one restaurant has Paula’s recipe. The hand breaded chicken is carefully seasoned and deep fried to a golden perfection. Did we mention they will bring you more of any food you really like? I had to exercise this option with the chicken.
Who said veggies couldn’t be tasty? When you taste this deep-fried goodness, you will swear Paula Deen is back there cooking it herself. Fresh okra is milk washed, breaded with cornmeal, and fried to perfection.
Ooey Gooey Butter Cake
If you order a serving of ‘Ooey Gooey Butter Cake,’ you are guaranteed to be addicted to this sugary delight for life. This scrumptious slice of heaven is a Paula Deen signature dish and is sure to melt in your mouth.
The above items are only a handful of our very favorite menu items. To review the dozens of original Paula Deen menu items, check out the full menus below:
The restaurant serves each meal family-style and will bring out table-sized portions of the entrees and sides for you and the rest of your party. The best part? Everything is all-you-can-eat! If the HUGE servings aren’t enough, your server will gladly bring more of your favorite dishes.
As a table, you will choose which sides and entrees you will be served. Below is the number of each that you will be served for the corresponding meal period:
Breakfast: 3 entrees and 2 sides
Lunch: 3 entrees and 4 sides
Dinner: 4 entrees and 5 sides
In addition to the entrees and sides, breakfast includes a delicious cinnamon roll for each guest and the lunch and dinner prices include a helping of one of Paula’s world-famous desserts. Our personal favorite is the signature ‘Ooey Gooey Butter Cake,’ but the Banana Pudding and Peach Cobbler are delicious as well.
After your meal, make sure to check out the full-sized replica of Paula Deen’s kitchen in the retail shop downstairs. Don’t be surprised if it looks familiar. Y’all this kitchen is identical to the kitchen Paula made famous on her Food Network TV show.
Although the wait times can easily be over an hour, Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen offers call ahead seating that can greatly reduce your wait. Simply call (865) 366-1510 and this can reduce your wait by as much as an hour. Even if you don’t call ahead, the restaurant’s pagers will reach you anywhere at The Island and there is lots to do while you wait.
Paula Deen’s Family Restaurant is conveniently located at The Island in Pigeon Forge. Between traffic lights number three and four, turn at the Island Drive traffic light (towards the Smoky Mountain Wheel). There is free parking on-site and the restaurant is directly across from the The Island Show Fountains.
*Photos and review produced by our on staff journalists who are in no way affiliated with the brand reviewed on this page. Additional images fully licensed with permission by author.