These 4 Hidden Gems Are the Best Mom and Pop Restaurants in Gatlinburg

three jimmys good time eatery sandwiches

We know you'll be tempted to dine at all the big-name franchises when visiting Gatlinburg, but don't forget to check out a few of our favorite mom and pop style restaurants too. Pictured: A King James at Three Jimmy's (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

I’ve dined at dozens of eateries in Gatlinburg, these are the best mom-and-pop restaurants in the area

Nowadays, the term “mom and pop” is code for a restaurant that isn’t a chain or is owned by a single restauranteur or family instead of a restaurant group. But we’re still attached to the idea of a certain kind of place. Take, for instance, a soda fountain and a burger grill. The employees wear paper hats and striped shirts and everybody looks like they’re auditioning for a revival of “Grease”. As a culture, we do a lot of nostalgic longing for an idealized version of the past. For some of us, it’s the ’50s. For others, it’s the ’60s or certainly the ’80s. 

You may not always find them on the lists of the best restaurants in the area, but often because of certain prejudices about what type of food merits being on a best-of list. But you can find great food at a hidden gem. If you want to try something local and support small business efforts, here are some of the best places in Gatlinburg to do it. Below are, what I believe, are the best mom-and-pop restaurants in Gatlinburg.

The Wild Plum in Gatlinburg TN
The Wild Plum in Gatlinburg has limited hours, and you must plan if you wish to dine there (photo by Bill Burris/TheSmokies.com)

1. The Wild Plum Tea Room

This is a dining experience unlike any other in the region. The atmosphere is far from the typical high-paced turnover of Gatlinburg restaurants. The menu is sandwiches, soups, salads and burgers with unique touches including lobster pie and hot pimento cheese dip. Everything is made fresh daily. But if you want to try The Wild Plum, plan ahead. Reservations are required to dine in and are not accepted the day of. To make a reservation call or text (865) 436-3808 and include your desired date, time and number in your party. The restaurant is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 11 am to 3 pm. Limited parking is available on site. The Wild Plum Tea Room is located at 555 Buckhorn Rd, Gatlinburg, TN 37738. NOTE: The Wild Plum is currently closed for the season and will reopen in Spring 2024.

Smoky Mountain Creperie in Gatlinburg
The Smoky Mountain Creperie in Gatlinburg has a variety of sweet and savory crepes (photo by Bill Burris/TheSmokies.com)

2. Smoky Mountains Creperie

I remain legitimately confused that in a place in which the pancake reigns supreme – that more creperies haven’t taken a toe-hold. When in Paris, my favorite places to eat are the little Creperie stands that pop up all over the place. Crepes have a reputation in America as being chiefly a dessert sort of deal, but I’m here to tell you savory crepes are incredible. Smoky Mountains Creperie has a variety of sweet and savory crepes. My wife, Leslie, loves the Nutella and Bananas crepes. The menu will change seasonally because they only use the freshest ingredients that can be locally sourced. Don’t be afraid to order to go. Crepes are great on-the-go food. But be prepared to utilize one of downtown Gatlinburg’s paid parking lots for this one. Or walk from your hotel. Smoky Mountain Creperie is located at 812 Parkway Suite 111, Gatlinburg, TN 37738.

pancake pantry pancakes
Don’t leave the Pancake Pantry without trying the Caribbean Pancakes (pictured) (photos by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

3. Pancake Pantry

It’s the restaurant that started it all. Tennessee’s first-ever pancake house. It’s an institution for a reason. They are known for their 24 varieties of pancakes but they also have waffles, eggs, omelettes, and other breakfast staples. Like many other breakfast joints in the area, The Pancake Pantry is only open for breakfast and late brunch. The restaurant closes at 3 pm most days. And just a heads up – The Pancake Pantry is one of the most popular restaurants in all of Gatlinburg. There’s a strong chance you’ll have to wait in line if you want to dine at this establishment. And they do not accept reservations or call-ahead seating. There is no onsite parking. You will either need to utilize a paid lot, take the trolley, or walk from your hotel. The Pancake Pantry is located at 628 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN.

three jimmys bbq
Three Jimmy’s is a favorite for locals and is not too far off the strip. Pictured: The King James BBQ Sandwich (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

4. Three Jimmy’s Good Time Eatery

Stick to your ribs comfort food is the order of the day at Three Jimmy’s. The menu is loaded with favorites like chicken pot pie, open-face roast beef and a variety of barbecue and grilled items. The pizzas and sandwiches are also worth the drive off the strip. It’s some of the best pizza in the area. The award-winning wings, fried mushrooms and the legendary smoked Gouda macaroni and cheese are highly recommended. It may not be the best BBQ among local restaurants, but it’s still a great place to get some great barbecue and enjoy a hearty meal. This is a local favorite that’s perfect for the whole family. Good time? You’ll have a great time. Plenty of free parking is available on site. Three Jimmy’s is located at 1359 East Pkwy #F, Gatlinburg, TN 37738.

What is your favorite mom-and-pop eatery in Gatlinburg? Let us know in the comments!

Have a question or comment about something in this article? Contact our staff here. You may also contact our editorial team at info@thesmokies.com.

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1 thought on “These 4 Hidden Gems Are the Best Mom and Pop Restaurants in Gatlinburg”

  1. When I was 10 Years old my father started taking us to Gatlinburg, Tennessee! I’m now 81 Years old and we come down at least 2-6 times a year. This trip has been a tradition for us over all these years. I married we went, our son was born we went, our family grew we went, our friends would come to visit us, we also went to Gatlinburg. We have seen it grow, and we love each time we spend time together with family and friends. For us it is only a 2-hour drive. There are times we drive down just to eat breakfast at the Pancake Pantry, the best pancakes and crepes ever! So many good places for lunch and the last time we enjoyed the food at Calhoun’s. Always good places to eat and stay.

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