The Smoky Mountains are one of the most beautiful natural places in the country. With mountains, rivers, streams, and wildlife, it’s easy to see why so many people visit each year. But it isn’t just the scenery that draws in tourists. The South is famous for its culinary treats, and the Smoky Mountains serve up delicious food that gives you a taste of the region’s great Southern Appalachian heritage. Immerse yourself in Smoky Mountain heaven with these seven delectable dishes you have to try.

Tennessee BBQ

The Great Smoky Mountains may get their name from the mysterious mist that rises from its peaks, but ask a foodie and they’ll tell you the real smoke in the Smokies comes from the region’s mouthwatering BBQ. In the 19th century, pigs were a low-maintenance source of meat, and pork barbecue became a popular dish across the Smokies. For a divine taste of this mouthwatering dish, visit Delauder’s BBQ in Gatlinburg, TN. A small spot just 10-minutes from Gatlinburg’s bustling center, it’s like stopping by your neighborhood BBQ joint and sharing a meal with your friends. Pull up a chair to a table covered with a red and white checked tablecloth and relax amid classic Smoky Mountain décor as your friendly waitstaff welcomes you with a smile. Delauder’s serves up all their personal favorites. Start with appetizers like nachos or fried green beans. Then sink your teeth into the flavors you came for with a hearty rib dinner.

Old-Fashioned Buttermilk Pancakes

Light and fluffy with a side of whipped butter and hot syrup. Mmm! If that’s the way you like your pancakes – and how else would you want them – then the Pancake Pantry  in Gatlinburg is the place to be. Flipping flapjacks since 1960, this charming mountain destination was Tennessee’s first pancake specialty restaurant, and some would say the best. Get your fill of made-from-scratch pancakes with 23 different varieties that will have you stacking your breakfast as high as it will go.

Corn Chowder

Corn Chowder may be a popular New England dish, but the Smoky Mountains put an Appalachian spin on it. Visit the Old Mill Restaurant  in Pigeon Forge, TN for some of the best corn chowder in the region. Right behind The Old Mill, take the walkway that leads to the restaurant, where you’ll find classic Southern fares like country-fried steak and sugar-cured ham. But the real reason you’re there is for their signature corn chowder with a side of corn fritters. Locals and tourists alike flock to the restaurant for the rich and creamy soup with a mix of subtly sweet flavors that go down smooth and make you feel right at home.

Fresh Mountain Trout

The Smokies are home to some of the best trout fishing in the entire country. But if you’d rather not fry up your own catch, then head to the aptly named Smoky Mountain Trout House in Gatlinburg. Locally owned and operated since 1975, the Trout House features the freshest local trout served up in ten different ways. Savor the delicate texture and delicious flavor varieties as you dine in the rustic Smoky Mountain atmosphere of one of Gatlinburg’s oldest buildings. For the non-trout eaters in your party, they also serve up delicious steak, chicken, catfish, and shrimp dishes.

Cherokee Fry Bread

The Smoky Mountains are home to the Cherokee tribe, whose influence is felt across the mountains far and wide. From ancient times until now, food has been a way to bring their community together. Frybread is a modern tradition, a local favorite, and so simple you can even try to whip up your own. To make fry bread, press sections of dough flat with a deep indented hole in the middle. Fry it in hot oil or shortening on each side until golden brown. Top it with cheese, chili, lettuce tomato, or onion (or really, whatever you’d like) for an unforgettable savory meal. Or try it with powdered sugar, honey, or fresh berries for a delicious dessert!

Old-Fashioned Taffy

You can’t leave the Smoky Mountains without trying some old-fashioned taffy. In Pigeon Forge, you can watch this delectable gooey treat being made right through the storefront windows of the Smoky Mountain Candy Makers. For over 50 years, Gatlinburg taffy has been a must-try treat for locals and tourists alike. These professional candy makers have perfected the art of this classic childhood treat, and they still spin it out daily on the same taffy-wrapping machine that they’ve been using since the 1940s! After the show, pop inside and try their head-spinning assortment of taffy flavors, including apple, chocolate-covered peanut butter, maple, pina colada, sassafras, watermelon, and so much more.

Smoky Mountain Moonshine

Now that your belly is full, wash it all down with a dram of silky-smooth moonshine – if you’re over 21 that is. Pop into Ole Smoky Distillery, Tennessee’s first legal (and largest) moonshine distillery. Visit them at multiple locations (two spots in Gatlinburg and one in Pigeon Forge) for over 20 different types of moonshine. Sample flavors like Apple Pie, Sweet Tea, Cinnamon, and Eggnog. Or try their 16 whiskey varieties from 35 to 100 proof that will warm you up from the inside out. Go with a classic straight bourbon whiskey or have some fun with a mango habanero or peanut butter whiskies. Take a behind-the-scenes tour to see how the moonshine’s made, and stick around for free concerts, where you just might hear big-name acts like Easton Corbin or the Soggy Bottom Boys.

Take a listen to the Gateway to the Smokies Podcast, where host, Joseph McElroy talks about the popular foods of the Smoky Mountains and some of his favorite places to eat.