Excited about Eating by Ernie Hiers

This edition of Excited about Eating takes a road trip to Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen, located on The Island in Pigeon Forge, TN. 


This second story family restaurant has tiered seating so that everyone can take advantage of the floor to ceiling windows overlooking The Island.

Dora here. And conveniently situated over the Paula Deen retail store on the first floor. 🙂 Normally, there’s a long wait (with call ahead option), but we visited during Storm Jonas. Not many people ventured out.

This restaurant serves their meals family style with a twist. Instead of having the menu decided by the restaurant and every table gets the same dishes, Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen gives each table three main dishes from a choice of seven and four side dishes from a choice of twelve, all you can eat.

Dora here. All you can eat of your choices. And no doggie bags. Bruiser was disappointed. 🙂

To start, they serve cheddar cheese biscuits and hoe cakes to start the meal, family style. The biscuits were good, soft, and tender. The hoe cakes were served with a sweet potato butter, also great. I could really taste the corn meal ingredient.

Cheddar cheese biscuits, Hoe Cakes, and Sweet Potato Butter. Yum!

Dora here. Oh my yum! Loved, loved, LOVED the biscuits with the sweet potato butter, a fresh twist on apple butter. Not so much the hoecakes. Maybe because they look like pancakes that it’s impossible not to compare them. 

For main dishes we chose Best Ever Southern Fried Chicken, Spare Ribs, and Cheesy Meatloaf. For the sides, Creamed Corn, Squash Casserole, Mac and Cheese, and Poppyseed Tossed Salad.

Spare Ribs and Squash Casserole

Of the main dishes, the southern fried chicken was perfectly fried, crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, and full of favor. 

Dora here. Full of flavor because they’d been dredged in hot sauce? Whatever, they were worthy of a second round.

The ribs were tender and covered in a sweet and spicy barbeque sauce that had a unique taste that we later learned was chili power. The cheesy meatloaf was covered in a thick cheese sauce, cut thick and outstanding.

Best Ever Southern Fried Chicken and Cheesy Meatloaf

Dora here. I wasn’t a fan of the ribs because of the sauce. But that meatloaf? I could actually enjoy meatloaf prepared this way.

The creamed corn was sweet, and my favorite followed by the squash casserole, which included both summer squash and zucchini with a crumb cracker topping.

From Left: Poppyseed Tossed Salad, Mac and Cheese, and Creamed Corn

Dora here. Totally unusual, but I vote the same for the sides. Of the meats, the fried chicken was my fave.

We rate this restaurant 5 forks our of 5 for a family friendly restaurant serving outstanding food.

Do you enjoy eating “family style” or do you prefer individual choices? What’s your favorite “family style” restaurant?


Paula Deen's Family Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato