Our story sharing our eating with food allergies in Pigeon Forge was sponsored by Pigeon Forge. In no way were any of our experiences shared influenced by our partnership. These were our real experiences in the following restaurants.
For families with food allergies, traveling can be quite difficult if the allergies are severe. If you are reading this you likely you know exactly what I am talking about. Most families pick their destinations with something they’d like to see or do, for those of us with food allergies, we often search out places to visit that are accommodating to those with food allergies. It can be quite the challenge.
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Intro Into Our Allergies
If you are new to my blog, back in 2009 I had my second child and within the first six weeks of her life, her personality changed so drastically we knew something was wrong. She cried all the time, but not a normal baby cry, it was one of discomfort and pain. There were many other symptoms and after much effort, by the time she was about four months old we found out that she had a dairy allergy. She wasn’t lactose intolerant, but is allergic to the protein found in milk. If she had it in it’s smallest amounts, she became severely ill.
When my third and fourth children were born, we recognized the symptoms right away. They too shared the same allergy as their older sister. But it wasn’t a drastic change as I had spent much time learning with Addie. Then last year after many hospital visits, and both my daughters spending a good part of April in the hospital, we found a gluten allergy. Thankfully we haven’t had any hospital stays since changing our diets, and we’d like to keep it that way.
Being a family who loves to travel, we have found many ways to work around our food allergies. Many times I prepare our meals when we travel, or occasionally we visit places that are amazing with food allergies and I get an awesome break! Then there are times in between, when it is a good mixture of both. That is what we did when we visited Pigeon Forge Tennessee recently. I did lots of research online, looked at menus online and even made a few phone calls. As a result of a little leg-work, we enjoyed many meals out and this Mama got a well needed break!
(I apologize about the quality of the photos. On our last day of our trip, my sd card was lost containing all the photos from our trip. These were all taken from my cell phone for social media, not intended fro the blog.)
Eating with Food Allergies in Pigeon Forge
Sawyers Farmhouse Restaurant
Breakfast is a very important meal and to my children it’s a meal with real food. They love eating breakfast foods and it can be challenging to find somewhere that is accommodating to both dairy and gluten allergies for breakfast. That was not an issue for us at Sawyers Farmhouse Restaurant! I was BEYOND excited to find gluten-free pancakes in Pigeon Forge!
When we arrived, I let them know even before we were seated that we had many in our party with food allergies. They quickly seated us with a wonderful waitress that has gluten allergies herself, so we were in excellent hands to start. We explained our allergies and given our options. Everyone chose the gluten-free pancakes that were also made dairy free. I chose to enjoy mine with pecans. They were served on separate plates from the eggs and bacon due to all being made separately.
I have tried many gluten-free dairy-free pancakes, and some taste like cardboard. This was not the case. Honestly they were light and moist, had excellent flavor and were as good as their regular counterpart. Truly I can say they were enjoyed so much we ordered two more stacks to split and enjoy. We were not even finished eating and the children begged to come back again before we left. Yep, they were that good!
Front Porch Cafe in Dollywood
Having visited their sister park many, many times and knowing they were great with our allergies, we knew we would be in good hands. I looked into the menus of the various restaurants on the Dollywood website and found that many of their restaurants could accommodate gluten allergies and some many had vegan options also. They even have a special dedicated line you can call to speak specifically with someone about your allergies. Be sure to visit their special dietary section on their website for more information.
As we waited to be called in, the children loved sitting on the large swing on the front porch. It was a great way to catch our breathe and relax a few minutes between all the fun! When we were seated, the waitress was very knowledgeable as to what we could all have and brought us out gluten-free menus. Since we also had dairy allergies, the chef made ours a little different than the menu but everything was delicious. The children had a special chicken plate, we had a Reuben sandwich and salad. No one left hungry and everyone truly enjoyed what they ordered.
The Bakery inside Dollywood – If you have a sweet craving at Dollywood, the Bakery carries several gluten-free treats as well. We found Udi’s Blueberry muffins and brownies were both available and sometimes they have other treats also.
Magaritaville at the Island in Pigeon Forge
I didn’t exactly realize what all the island entailed, but it’s truly a destination in itself. After exploring and deciding how we were going to spend the rest of the day, we headed into Margaritaville for lunch. Again, host was incredibly knowledgeable, he also had celiac’s and was able to guide us in the right direction. I had looked at their menu online and they have gluten-free options clearly marked. Since our allergies are more than just gluten, it required looking into by the chef, but they looked at each and every item we were interested in so we could confidently enjoy our meal.
The girls decided to go with a traditional burger and fries. It’s crazy to think that this might be a big deal, but when you have food allergies, the fries are often times shared and you can’t even enjoy something as simple as french fries out. That wasn’t the case at Margaritaville! The buns served were actually the best gluten-free dairy-free buns we’ve ever had, anywhere! If you have allergies, you won’t be disappointed in their burgers!
If you have some in your party with only gluten allergies, they also serve what I was told was a to-die-for chocolate brownie dessert, but it has milk in the chocolate and my family couldn’t indulge.
Harpoon Harry’s Crab House
Before we left, I am not sure whether my children were more excited about the options of gluten-free pancakes or knowing we were going to enjoy crab! To say my children love seafood is an understatement. Minus the baby, they can never get enough. I was so excited to learn that Harpoon Harry’s also had a gluten-free menu. There was no doubt it had to be added to our itinerary.
We chose a mid-afternoon so the restaurant wouldn’t be as busy. It was much quieter and more relaxing. When we entered, I spoke with the hostess about our allergies so we were seated with gluten-free menus. Our server was very knowledgeable on what we could have and what we couldn’t, on one item he wasn’t absolutely certain on, he quickly checked with the chef to verify, and we were thankful he did. No fries here, but the crab served in the buckets more than made up for it and we were given several choices to substitute, in the end the girls chose rice to substitute.
Depending on the type of bucket you chose, you would also get corn on the cob and mini potatoes seasoned with a crab boil. The kids sized buckets were the perfect size for the kids and the king crab bucket was a monster! We also had a crab salad and it was enormous and tasted delicious!
Being a mom with all four of my kids ten and under, when we dine at seafood restaurants, I usually request my food follow the others by about ten or fifteen minutes. That might sound crazy, but everyone except for Austin requires help with cracking the crab and I truly enjoy my meals fresh and hot. It sounds like an odd request but they were more than happy to oblige.
We had several other restaurants that we planned to visit that I had researched, but we found that with our busy schedule (check out what we did in Pigeon Forge here) we actually only ate two meals a days with light snacks between.
Other restaurants researched with gluten-free and vegan options but NOT visited because of lack of time were:
- The Local Goat – they were completely packed the day we planned to visit. Full crowds, coupled with meltdowns we decided to leave it for a future visit.
- The Old Mill Restaurant
- The Pottery House Cafe and Grille
- Mellow Mushroom
- J.T. Hannah’s Kitchen
I’m sure there are many more, but since this wasn’t meant to be an inclusive list, I wanted to share our experiences with you.
As always, when you have food allergies, be sure to speak with the hostess as you are being seated, and then again with your server. Many times the chef will speak with you personally. It takes a little extra time, but well worth the effort of not getting sick.
My family was able to enjoy each of these restaurants and no one in our party became ill. I can never assure you this will not happen with your family, as that is beyond my control, but I love to share my family’s experiences with you.
Traveling should be all about discovering new places, enjoying the moments and making precious memories rather than being stressed. I honestly found that eating with food allergies in Pigeon Forge was not a challenge at all. Our family made selective decisions on where we would dine based upon menus and availability to serve our allergies. I can confidently say, having severe food allergies in our family, Pigeon Forge will be somewhere we will visit again! And most importantly each and every one of these restaurants we will be happy to return to!