Comfort Food

Photo by Nathan Sparks

From cozy warm dishes to melt-in-your-mouth desserts, East Tennessee’s food scene has become synonymous with comfort

When was the last time you said the word comfort and not immediately said the word food right after it? As the cold and darkness descend upon us, we take comfort in warm and hearty meals ladled out of iron pots and hot off of sizzling skillets. Let’s delve into the twilight of early evenings and brisk weekends and discover the most comfortable foods East Tennessee has to offer our growling stomachs. 

Farmacy | Photo by Marc Anthony


Farmacy has all my favorite meals: lunch, brunch, and dinner! But they had me at the starters. The Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup went down smooth and creamy and warmed my innards like I’d hoped. I’m a fool for brisket and Farmacy’s Brisket Plate is slow cooked, stacked high, and served with all the comfort food staples like mashers and green beans and a house made tomato jam that is zippy and perfect. I’m so glad I “bought the Farmacy!”

Bearden | 5018 Kingston Pike |

Southern Comfort | Photo by Marc Anthony

Southern Comfort

Doesn’t the name say it all? Southern Comfort is located in Gatlinburg at the Westgate Resort and is one of the most rustic places on this comfort food tour. Wood and fireplaces abound and decadence is all over the menu. Shrimp and Grits, Chicken and Dumplings, Fried Green Tomatoes, Catfish Nuggets… all the usual suspects are here, so where are you? You’ll be here soon because the grilled meatloaf was wrapped in bacon! 

Gatlinburg  |  915 Westgate Resorts Road

The Smokey Q | Photo by Marc Anthony

Café 4

I could probably start and end with Lobster Mac & Cheese. You’ve been here, you’ve done that. You would have probably bought the t-shirt. But I was enticed by the brunch menu and the Chicken and Waffles. And the Tomato Bisque and Grilled Cheese Dipper. I was hungry and completely satisfied. But let’s get back to that Mac. What sounds like an accidental concoction, like the chicken wings that fell into that bucket of hot sauce, whoever thought to combine the Lobster and the Mac has my undying and unwavering affection. 

Downtown  |  4 Market Square  |

Horn of Plenty | Photo by Marc Anthony

Horn of Plenty

There are two Horn of Plenty restaurants in East Tennessee and it’s the Middlebrook Pike location in Knoxville that serves fresh comfort food by the bushel. Mike served up a hearty slab of meatloaf, a monolithic chunk of corn bread, and a hunk of pecan pie that set my stomach on overdrive. Just the aroma of the plate under my nose was enough to bring back memories of my grandmother’s cooking. If it’s been a few years since you’ve been inside Horn of Plenty, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the cozy renovation. So comfortable. 

Cedar Bluff  |  9132 Middlebrook Pike  |

Emma’s Southern Kitchen | Photo by Marc Anthony

Emma’s Southern Kitchen

Owner and all-around wonderful guy Edward’s food inspiration, Emma, headlines this abundant kitchen. I’ve never understood the name Chicken Fried Chicken, but why squabble over redundancy. The gravy train makes a stop at Emma’s and pours right into your heart. Burgers and tacos and fish and southern style sides dominate this hearty menu and define the term southern kitchen. Emma would be proud. And you will be full! 

West Knoxville  |  3701 Sutherland Avenue |

Litton’s Market and Restaurant | Photo by Marc Anthony

Litton’s Market and Restaurant

What can you say about Litton’s restaurant that hasn’t been said a thousand times in these pages and others? You’ve had the burgers, you’ve had the chili dogs, you’ve had every delectable item on this incredible menu of comfort, but let’s dive straight into the bakery case and round out this tour with some dessert. Let me string together three words you all know and love that are synonymous with Litton’s Bakery. Red. Velvet. Cake. My work here is done. 

Fountain City | 2803 Essary Drive |

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