Smoky Mountain native reviews popular Pigeon Forge restaurant
I think The Old Mill Restaurant in Pigeon Forge is an experience unlike many of its neighboring eateries. As a Southerner, I appreciate that diners can get a home-cooked meal, all done without the commercialism of some national chains that claim to offer home cooking.
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I also enjoy the history of The Old Mill itself. It began nearly 200 years ago with local farmers and a gristmill along the Little Pigeon River. Early settlers to the area built the Lewis Mill in 1830 to grind corn. The historic Old Mill took its name in 1952, according to The Old Mill website. The restaurant began as the Cornflour Restaurant and got its name because they were using products ground at the mill. Today, additional eateries around Old Mill Square include the Pottery House Cafe, Old Mill Creamery, Old Mill Candy Kitchen and Old Forge Distillery.
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What is the best thing to order at The Old Mill Restaurant?
I say you can never go wrong with breakfast, which is served until 11 am. I recommend The Old Mill Country Breakfast, which has everything you could hope for in a good morning feast: Eggs, pancakes, corn grits, biscuits, potatoes and sausage gravy. Of course, they also offer omelets, pancakes, French toast or lighter options that include oatmeal, fruit or vegetable quiche.
Most of the time though, I order The Old Mill Chicken and Dumplings for dinner, or the Southern Fried Chicken. While dishes like the Homemade Meatloaf, Deep South Chicken Pot Pie and BBQ Country Ribs are also note-worthy, the Chicken and Dumplings are the Beef Wellington of Southern Appalachian cooking. If you are meeting your in-laws, you serve this. Chicken and dumplings are typically made with small chunks of chicken cooked in broth with homemade bread, usually made from biscuit dough. Most cooks roll the biscuit dough into small flattened balls. The Old Mill is one of the few places that can do this dish right. I’m not ready to say The Old Mill has topped my grandma’s recipe, but it’s close. And the good news is, generous portions are offered with the dinner entrees. You can view the full menu here.
Most dinner entrees include a cup of the signature corn chowder, corn fritters, a house side salad, mashed potatoes, green beans and a bakery fresh dessert. Of course, a children’s menu is also available so junior can eat the usual hamburger or chicken tenders. If you have room left in your belly, definitely opt for the homemade dessert. Selections will vary, but the pecan pie is one of the most popular options at the restaurant.
Is The Old Mill Restaurant worth it?
Are you in the mood for traditional Southern cuisine, an authentic experience and great service? Yes, The Old Mill Restaurant is “worth it”. And honestly, it’s some of the best food I’ve ever had at a Pigeon Forge restaurant. It might just be the best restaurant in Pigeon Forge.
Do you need reservations for The Old Mill?
No. In fact, The Old Mill Restaurant does not take reservations. Both The Old Mill Restaurant and the nearby Pottery House are first come, first served. Because of this, I’ve seen some long wait times for either restaurant. But even with the long wait times, I find that both tourists and locals absolutely love it. If you plan to come in the busy season, which can be between mid-summer around May through August, or around the holidays in November or December, brace yourself for a wait. I took some out-of-town visitors to the restaurant at noon on a Saturday recently, and we waited for nearly an hour. Arriving at a more off-peak time whenever possible can help keep the kids calm and avoid unnecessary hanger.
Does The Old Mill Restaurant have parking?
Yes! One of the added bonuses of dining at The Old Mill is that you have free parking available. Guests can park in front of either restaurant. There’s additional parking near The Old Mill in Patriot Park. And if you’re riding the trolley, the main hub for the Pigeon Forge Trolley System is right down the sidewalk nearby. The Old Mill Restaurant is located at Red Light 7. If you’re coming from Sevierville, you’ll turn left. If you’re coming from Gatlinburg, you’ll turn right. For your GPS, the address is 3341 Old Mill Street, Pigeon Forge TN.
Have you been to The Old Mill Restaurant? Where do you like to eat in the Smoky Mountains? Let me know in the comments below.