If you blink, you’ll miss one of the town’s best kept secrets – the Cheese Cupboard nestled in The Village shopping area in Gatlinburg. It’s your classic Bavarian cheese shop with a wide selection of every kind of cheese from Brie to Gouda. Combined with the restaurant located upstairs and you’ve found a hidden gem in Gatlinburg that even the most detailed foodie might pass by. The Hofbrauhaus Restaurant is known around town for its famous Reuben sandwich, which you must try to believe.
The Cheese Cupboard opened its doors in 1969 downtown. For the small scale of the store, the variety of cheeses, imported chocolates and imported beers on hand is surprising. It’s hard to find any empty shelf space in here. From Brie to Blue, and cheddar to Camembert, the Cheese Cupboard is a turophile’s (cheese lover) dream come true in Tennessee. Maybe you’re looking for something specific or you just want to shop for a new kind of cheese, the selection at the Cheese Cupboard will leave you satisfied.
Upstairs is where the real hidden treasure lies. Literally, the back staircase goes straight up to a German connoisseurs buffet. The narrow staircase leads you to a small dining area with an even smaller kitchen on the left hand side. This is the Hofbrauhaus, a German restaurant the likes of which you read about travel diaries and children’s tales. It’s a modest menu, but not lacking in delicious German fare. Sandwiches, bratwurst, and cheese all align one side of the menu but the main reason for a visit is their Reuben. They are renowned for this specialty, called the “The Super Reuben.” Stacked high with corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and homemade sauce, this incredible German sandwich is worth the trek up the stairs alone. Melted cheese and tangy sauerkraut emerge out of every bite and tell your senses why it really is the best Reuben in the Smokies. Coarse ground mustard, horseradish and relish can be found on each table so that you can condiment till your heart’s content.
The Hofbrauhaus dining area is also a large part of the appeal. Cozy and quaint, with seating for no more than 12 or 16, this is one of those places where if you have a big enough group; you just might be dining alone, something hard to find in Gatlinburg. The interior looks like a small, turn-of-the-century German gastro pub. Dark wood and furnishings highlight the dining area. A little reminder, your waiter will also be cooking for you and bringing your drinks. They will also be the person working the register downstairs in the cheese shop. Patience is a virtue; good things come to those who wait.
During the week try something different in Gatlinburg for lunch, rather than going to a fast food restaurant, take time to seek out and stop by the Hofbrauhaus restaurant. Our recommendation, get the Reuben, or one of the other fantastic sandwiches. Butter it up with some fresh horseradish or mustard sauce and enjoy a great meal in one of those places that seems off the beaten but really isn’t. Purchase some fine cheese from the Cheese Cupboard as a tasty souvenir. People will ask you where you ate and won’t believe you when you tell them.