Vacationing in Gatlinburg, Tennessee means plenty of dining options. We wanted to sample a mix of cuisines, since variety is the spice of life. No Way Jose’s Cantina was our choice for Mexican cuisine, and its location was a perfect fit for our day. With a visit to Ripley’s Aquarium next on our itinerary, we needed to fuel up for a few hours of exploration. (You can read about the aquarium here.)

Stepping into No Way Jose's our spirits were immediately lifted by the bright color palette of the decor.

Coloring a Gloomy Day

No Way Jose’s Cantina is a regional chain with three locations. They opened the first restaurant in 1997, and have been a staple for visitors ever since. Our visit took place on a gloomy September day, but as soon as we approached the mood began to lighten. Once inside, the brightly colored interior laid out before us. Although they had just opened a few minutes before our arrival, the place was already filling up with hungry tourists. The aroma of the cooking dishes made our hungers race, and we anxiously followed the hostess to our table.

Some Queso dip and salsa with tortilla chips pairs well with a couple of house specialty drinks.

Getting Started

Downtown Gatlinburg is laid out well for getting around on foot. With our lodging just off the main strip, we were able to leave our car parked most of the time we were exploring the city. Since we were afoot, it was a perfect opportunity to imbibe in a couple of their specialty drinks. Crystal selected one of their pina coladas, while I sampled a Mexican Runner. They were the perfect touch to accent some Queso dip, chunky salsa, and chips. We noshed on this snack, while we awaited our main courses to arrive.

The Chicken and Avocado Salad is served fresh at No Way Jose's Cantina in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

Affordable Lunches

While reviewing the menu, one of the things we noticed were the affordable prices. This is not always the case in places that are tourist heavy. We were happy to see many meal options below $10 per plate. My choice was the Chicken & Avocado Salad, which is served in a crispy tortilla bowl. It was pretty much like a taco salad, excpt with grilled chicken and slices of avocado. The ingredients were fresh and flavorful, and the Avocado Dressing was a great compliment to the dish.

A sizzling platter of fajitas is a great addition to a salad.

Sizzling Eats

Crystal went with the Sizzling Fajita Salad, which is also less than $10. It was similar to my meal with the bowl shell, but hers had the addition of fajita meat. There is something special about the sound of the sizzle and the smell of the meat, onion, and peppers. Both of our meals were large enough to fill us, before we finished.

The authors find a cure for a gloomy day at No Way Jose's.

No Way Jose’s Cantina Brightens a Gloomy Day

Our foray into Mexican cuisine in Gatlinburg had been a total success. We had many more meals planned and our confidence was boosted that we would find plenty of delicious meals. Our vacation was off to an amazing start, and we were enjoying all of the southern hospitality that is common for this region. Be sure to check out some more of the flavors of the south by reading our articles from downtown Knoxville. (Here’s a link to the overview article.) Bon Appetit!

the authors signatures.

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