Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are meant to be entertaining. Everything is bright and musical, designed to earn every tourist dollar, and the competition is fierce.
Dinners come with themes – sometimes even whole shows.
Nothing is simple. Nothing is basic. Everything is over the top. Everything is more.
It’s like a mountain Las Vegas with significantly less sin.
Until you get to breakfast, the most important meal of the day.
This is the South.
‘Round here you don’t mess with breakfast.
The truth is there are probably dozens, if not hundreds of places in Sevier County where you can get a darn good breakfast. We got folks coming out the womb with a spatula ready to fry up some sausage, bacon and slap a pan of biscuits in the oven.
Sure. We’ll put on a show for you tourists over lunch. Hell, at dinner we’ll sing and dance.
Breakfast? Just sit down and eat, ya hear?
So with the caveat that it’s nearly impossible to eat at and rank all the breakfast spots in the Great Smoky Mountains of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg without dying of a coronary on the spot, here are some of our favorite places to get some down home dishes in Sevier County.
7. Krispy Kreme in Sevierville and Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
After all that talk about a hearty Southern breakfast, I’m opening with a donut shop?
But when that neon Hot Now sign lights up, that’s like a beacon from the angels. Change your plans and get yourself to the Krispy Kreme for the freshly made doughnuts. You can get bacon and eggs for lunch if you don’t die from the sugar rush.
From the “technology is a wonderful thing” department, they’ve got an app now that tells you when the sign is about to be lit.
Got a big day planned? Why not start it with the kids’ eyes spinning like pinwheels and the adults mainlining black coffee and sugar. You’ll be sprinting up the hills at Dollywood.
6. Ruby Sunshine in Gatlinburg, Tenn.
Inspired by traditional New Orleans cuisine, Ruby Sunshine has expanded throughout the Southeast and made its way to downtown Gatlinburg.
The brunch restaurant opened in 2020 for a short time before closing again due to … 2020 things. However, now they’re back open and serving up delicious brunch specials and cocktails.
And because it’s located on an upper floor in Gatlinburg, it also offers a beautiful view of downtown.
5. Bennett’s Pit Bar-B-Que in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, Tenn.
Grits, bacon, sausage, biscuits, gravy … it’s all here plus fantastic pulled pork.
There is nothing more authentically southern than a dish of pulled pork and grits for breakfast.
Sure, after you fill up, you may need to go back to your hotel room and lie down until it’s time to eat again, but Bennett’s does a nice lunch, too. You’ll be covered.
4. Frizzle Chicken Farmhouse Café in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
Remember all that stuff I said about Southerners taking breakfast seriously? Well, every rule has an exception.
Frizzle Chicken Farmhouse Café is like Bob Evans dropped a tremendous amount of acid. It’s like someone took a 4-year-old to Krispy Kreme, gave them a dozen donuts and asked them to design a restaurant.
The walls of Frizzle’s Chicken Farmhouse Café are lined with more than a hundred animatronic singing chickens who perform a handful of times an hour. It’s like the Tiki Room, but with chickens and a significantly better breakfast menu.
Look, the Farmhouse Café won’t be for everyone. But this is the one breakfast from your vacation that your family will absolutely not forget.
And the food itself is actually quite good. You’d think the singing chickens would do most of the heavy lifting, but the omelets are tasty and the waffles are as good as anybody’s.
3. Brick & Spoon in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
Brick & Spoon is open for breakfast, brunch and lunch in Pigeon Forge. They specialize in high-quality southern food in a modern, casual atmosphere.
The restaurant is a favorite of tourists and locals as well.
Brick & Spoon uses only the best quality ingredients, and it definitely shows. You won’t find a microwave in this kitchen. They offer an impressive list of delicious traditional favorites like omelets, pancakes, benedicts and beignets. But one of the best parts of this restaurant is the cocktails.
Scratch your mimosa itch with a flight full of flavor. And best of all, their Bloody Marys are made with a signature Dumpling Creek infused vodka – the perfect blend of spice which could turn anyone into a Blood Mary fan.
If a breakfast cocktail isn’t the best way to start your day, I’m not sure what is.
2. Pancake Pantry in Gatlinburg, Tenn.
The Pancake Pantry with its old world, European architecture is the polar opposite of Frizzle’s Chicken Farmhouse Café. The pancakes of this pancake house are a big business in Sevier County.
You can’t hardly sling an animatronic chicken without hitting a place that serves pancakes. But the Pancake Pantry is not only the best, it’s the first.
Founded in 1960 by a couple of Hoosier tourists who came to the mountains with a spatula and a dream, the Pancake Pantry has stood the test of time. The menu includes a wide assortment of pancakes, crepes, waffles, blintzes, and French toast served with whipped butter and maple syrup. The kids will enjoy the Swiss chocolate chip pancakes. In fact, the Pancake Pantry is like a United Nations of breakfast food.
I started to write about how international the menu is, realized I was unintentionally walking into an IHOP joke and switched it up.
The traditional breakfast foods, eggs, sausage, bacon and omelets are all prepared with the skill and knowledge acquired from over 60 years in the business. This ain’t no fly-by-night operation, this is pancake royalty.
1. The Old Mill Restaurant in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
The opening page of the Old Mill Restaurant says, “Wholesome ingredients, time-tested recipes, and well-honed home-cooking skills are the hallmarks of real Smoky Mountains cooking, and the ones that keep the rambling dining rooms at The Old Mill Restaurant bustling all day and into the night.
“We don’t go for gimmicks or trends. Rather, we pride ourselves on honest-to-goodness fried chicken, buttermilk biscuits, fall-off-the-bone tender country ribs, and other Southern classics that warm our bellies and tug our heartstrings.”
In other words, we ain’t messin’ around.
This is authentic home-style breakfast served in a historic setting. The original mill was built on the spot in 1830 to service the community.
Now, the Old Mill is one of the oldest continually operating grist mills in the country and one of the most photographed mills in America.
Walk in and tell the waitress there ain’t no point in foolin’ around with menus. You know what they’ve got without even having to ask. Classics such as eggs, biscuits, sausage, bacon and country ham. And of course omelets with cheese, onions and peppers, home fried potatoes, pancakes and cinnamon pecan French toast. The pancakes are served with warm maple syrup and your choice of strawberry or blueberry toppings.
This is a serious breakfast for people who like breakfast.
This is the breakfast you drove all the way to Pigeon Forge to eat.
Where is your pick for best breakfast in the Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg area? Let us know in the comments!