Pancakes

Crockett’s Breakfast Camp in Gatlinburg review: Is it worth it?

We are here, friends, to discuss the art of a finely prepared mountain breakfast. 

But before we can discuss hen fruit and catheads (more on that later), there’s a bit of chicanery afoot that must be addressed.

Crockett’s Breakfast Camp is a magnificent mecca of mountain breakfast.

But it is playing a bit fast and loose with one of East Tennessee’s folk heroes, attracting the attention of the tourist trade with a famous name.

But the fact is that the Crockett in question is not folklore legend Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier. It’s not even one of his cousins.

In fact, we have no evidence that Davy ever even enjoyed signature corned beef hash breakfast or fried cinnamon rolls. 

David Crockett Maples, a Tennessean who fought for the Union in the Civil War, opened a supply store when he returned from the war. It was located at the base of Mt. LeConte, where he and his wife, Mary (Ogle) Crockett earned a reputation for serving a hearty breakfast.

The interior of Crockett's Breakfast Camp
The interior of Crockett’s Breakfast Camp has many references to the area’s history (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Mr. Maples eventually lost his legs to frostbite while serving as a guide – no word on what happened to the guy he was guiding.

Undeterred, Maples created wooden feet to put in his boots, strapped them to his legs and went on walking around with the help of a pair of canes until 1928 when he passed away at the age of 88. 

Maples is more than deserving of having a Gatlinburg breakfast establishment named after him. But Maples Breakfast Camp apparently doesn’t have the same ring. 

It’s like opening a huge restaurant in Pigeon Forge called Dolly’s and having it dedicated to former Dolly Pentreath, the last known native speaker of the Cornish language who passed away in 1777.

Editor’s Note: I was going with Dolley Madison here, but she spelled it funky and ruined the joke. 

The Eggs Benedict at Crockett's Breakfast Camp
The White Oak Flats Eggs Benedict at Crockett’s Breakfast Camp has a toasted English muffin with ham, homemade hollandaise and two over-easy eggs (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

When did Crockett’s Breakfast Camp open?

Crockett’s Breakfast Camp has been one of the area’s top breakfast spots since 2014, where it continues to honor the lesser-known, yet impressive Crockett.

Still, if you can get past the name thing, Crockett’s Breakfast Camp is a place of wonder.

Who owns Crockett’s Breakfast Camp?

Part of the KBS Restaurant family, which also owns The Greenbrier, Holston’s, J.T. Hannah’s and more, Crockett’s Breakfast Camp is a holy place for those who believe – in their soul – that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. 

If aliens came to Earth and asked what breakfast is, bring them here.

First of all, because it is so good, but secondly because once they eat it, they’ll be so sluggish they will immediately need a nap and we can apprehend them before they have a chance to start messing with major cities. 

Pancakes at Crockett's
Crockett’s is well-known for its delicious, thick griddle cakes. Pictured: Aretha Frankenstein’s Pancakes with chocolate chips, strawberries and whipped cream (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Crockett’s Breakfast Camp menu

I love everything about Crockett’s Breakfast Camp.

They call the eggs “hen fruit.” The griddle cakes, French toast and waffles are enticing. I love that their cathead biscuits live up to the billing.

The Elk Mountain Grande Burrito features 3 eggs, chorizo, machaca, pico de gallo and jalapeños, just like old David Crockett Maples and his wife Mary Ogle made back in 1875. 

In fact, they serve thick Aretha Frankenstein’s Pancakes with no explanation whatsoever. Just here ya go, Aretha Frankenstein! As if everybody knows about the “famous” pancake mix from the restaurant on Tremont Street in Chattanooga. 

Also on the menu is the Signature Corned Beef Hash Benedict with diced onions, peppers and herbs.

Try the pan-fried pork chops. Or perhaps the Huevos Rancheros served with refried beans and rice. Build your own biscuit with the Cathead Stacker. There is something for everyone.

The Elk Mountain grande burrito
The Elk Mountain Grande Burrito comes with Hunt Camp Potatoes (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

For those with a big appetite, try the Black Bear Camp Skillet featuring country or sugar-cured ham and pecan smoked bacon. It is served with Cherokee sweet corn pone and more. Or try the Postmasters Favorite featuring country fried steak and homestyle sausage gravy.

Huge portions and the best breakfast can be found at Crocketts.

In addition, the location right at the top of the strip before you get out of Gatlinburg into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, can’t be beat.

Going hiking? Great. Stop off for a hearty breakfast then turn around and go back to your hotel for a nice nap while you recover.

For the full menu, click here.

Read Also: Frizzle Chicken Review: Go for the pancakes, stay for the singing chickens

Does Crockett’s Breakfast Camp have parking?

We should note that with a location on the strip, parking can be an issue.

The restaurant does have a few free parking spots on-site, but there’s a paid lot nearby which is good because you’re not going to feel like walking very far. 

Read Also: Parking in Gatlinburg: Prices, maps and free parking tips

David Crockett Maples statue
There’s a wooden statue of David Crockett Maples outside the restaurant (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Is Crockett’s Breakfast Camp worth it?

Ultimately, there are a lot of places in the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge area vying for your breakfast dollar. And of course, many of them are very, very good.

So, how many of them should you drive past to try Crockett’s?

It’s hard to say. I’m not sure I’d make the trek from Sevierville or Pigeon Forge only to eat at Crockett’s.

In fact, if I had my choice in Gatlinburg I’d go to the Pancake Pantry first. But neither of those things are a slight to Crockett’s in any way.

Read Also: Who has the best pancakes in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg?

It’s a fantastic place to get breakfast and start your day in Gatlinburg.

It’s certainly worth your time and money. And, hey, they’ve got a wooden statue of the namesake, which given his feet is somehow extremely appropriate but also a little disrespectful at the same time. 

Where is Crockett’s Breakfast Camp?

Open seven days a week from 7 am-1 pm, Crockett’s Breakfast Camp is located at 1103 Parkway in Gatlinburg.

Hours are subject to change, so always double-check ahead of time before you make your plans.

Do you have a favorite breakfast restaurant in Gatlinburg? Let us know in the comments.

Who has the best pancakes in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg? Here’s our top 7

“The perfect blossom is a rare thing. You could spend your life looking for one, and it would not be a wasted life,” says Katsumoto in “The Last Samurai”

“Yeah, same thing. But about pancakes,” says John Gullion on the website you’re reading right now.

The search for the perfect, best pancakes in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and Sevierville is both a fool’s errand and a noble pursuit. It’s like seeking the perfect blade of grass in a two-acre lawn, like devoting your life to identifying the best grain of sand.

It is an impossible task but not because they are so plentiful.

In the end of “The Last Samurai” (spoiler alert), as he is dying after being shot 7,000 times by a Gatlin gun that somehow manages to only graze Tom Cruise, Kasumoto asks his friend to run him through to preserve his honor. Kasumoto uses his last sentient seconds to see the blooming cherry trees in the distance.

It’s in that moment he realizes they are all “perfect”.

Really, they could have shot that scene and substituted pancakes. Like cherry blossoms, every one is perfect in its own way.

So as we set out on the impossible task of identifying the best places to get pancakes in Sevier County, we’re going to start with a caveat.

The Pancake Pantry has been removed from the competition.

We’ve written about the Pancake Pantry here and there, and frankly writing about them again just seems like we’re rubbing it in. Those crazy Hoosiers came down here in 1960 and started a trend. So to make the question a little more interesting, they’re out!

Now, let’s talk about the pancakes.

Pancakes at Flapjacks
Flapjack’s Pancake Cabin has six locations around the Smokies (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

7. Flapjack’s Pancake Cabin (6 locations)

Flapjack’s Pancake Cabin offers just about every type of pancake you could imagine, including pancakes that accommodate some gluten sensitivities.

Flapjack’s has been serving up tall stacks of pancakes for more than 50 years, and these scratch-made pancakes are some of the best, classic pancakes around.

This restaurant has one location in Kodak, Sevierville and Pigeon Forge and three locations in Gatlinburg.

Crockett's Breakfast Camp
The pancakes at Crockett’s Breakfast Camp are made on the griddle (left photo by Greg and Laura Akens/right photo by Alaina O’Neal/TheSmokies.com)

6. Crockett’s Breakfast Camp in Gatlinburg, Tenn.

You know what happens when you assume? Nothing, they’ll still serve you the pancakes but you’ll just be ill informed.

No.

This is not Tennessee legend Davy Crockett’s breakfast camp. You want some of his flapjacks, I reckon you’ll have to go to San Antonio or Greeneville or some other place sponging off his legacy.

This here breakfast camp honors the legacy of David C. “Crockett” Maples, a frontiersman who served with the Union Cavalry in the Civil War.

Fun fact, much of upper East Tennessee sided with the Union in the war and the region swayed back and forth between Southern and Northern control.

After the war, Crockett and his wife Mary R. Ogle – a name familiar to all in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg – returned to the area and set up a supply store at the base of Mount LeConte where they served hungry travelers home-cooked breakfast.

According to legend, and the Breakfast Camp website, Crockett also served as a mountain guide, got caught in a blizzard and nearly died.

Instead, he lost part of both legs to frostbite. Undeterred, he built himself a pair of boots with wooden feet inside that he latched to his legs. With the help of two canes and his wooden feet he stayed active until 1928 when he died at the age of 88.

What does all of that have to do with the quality of the pancakes? Nothing, but you don’t read a story with that much, if you’ll forgive the phrase, meat on the bone and simply walk (I may be going to hell) away.

Crockett’s offers a wide array of breakfast fare, but the griddle cakes are what keeps ‘em coming back. Served with a wide variety of toppings, they are fluffy, filling and delicious.

For a change of pace, try the Aretha Frankensteins Pancake, a famous recipe from the temporarily closed coffeehouse in Chattanooga.

Why is it called Aretha Frankensteins? Honestly, I don’t know and after the episode with Crockett Maples’ wooden feet, I’m a little too shook to Google it.

Sawyers Farmhouse
Sawyer’s Farmhouse has sweet pancakes that come with a wide variety of toppings (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

5. Sawyer’s Farmhouse Restaurant in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

Locally owned and operated, Sawyer’s has a giant chicken wearing a cowboy hat outside which happily allows me to quote the “Young Guns” peyote scene to my kids until they’re ready to stab me with the cutlery.

“You guys. You guys. D’ja see the size of that CHICKEN?”

Comedy gold.

For pancakes – and crepes – Sawyer’s skews to the sweet side. There are a variety of fruity options as well as chocolate chip and M&M varieties.

Serving just breakfast and lunch, Sawyer’s is able to focus on doing those two meals right.

There’s not a lot of extraneous business, except for the giant chicken. Just good breakfast food done right.

Frizzle Farmhouse
Frizzle Farmhouse has 100 animatronic singing chickens to entertain you while you enjoy your breakfast (photos by John Gullion/TheSmokies.com)

4. Frizzle Chicken Farmhouse Café in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

We’ve also written about Frizzle before, here and there, so we won’t belabor the point.

But for a place whose hook is a bunch of singing animatronic chickens, the pancakes are really, really good.

Come for the bizarro-world Tiki Room, stay for the pancakes. The family loved it.

Read Also: Frizzle Chicken Review: Go for the pancakes, stay for the singing chickens

Reagans Pancakes
Reagan’s House of Pancakes has two locations in Pigeon Forge (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

3. Reagan’s House of Pancakes in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

The breakfast spot is so nice, they built it twice. I like to imagine a family coming to Pigeon Forge to get a little breakfast and see a few sites.

They pull into Reagan’s House of Pancakes, which I like to imagine is built upon as sturdy a foundation as hoecakes will allow.

They sit down; maybe some try the buffet while others order off the menu. Dad has the caramel nut pancakes. Mom gets a Belgian waffle.

They have a hearty, satisfying meal and load into the car only to be confronted by horrendous traffic. A few hours and 1.4 miles later, they begin to feel a little peckish and what do they see?

Reagan’s House of Pancakes No. 2 conveniently located six laps of a high school regulation track away.

Whether you go to Reagan’s No. 1 or Reagan’s No. 2, you’re in for a great pancake and look, don’t take my word for it. Building a second location less than two miles away – that’s the Starbucks model, folks.

Smokys Pancake
Smoky’s Pancake Cabin offers great, simple and wholesome pancakes (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

2. Smoky’s Pancake Cabin in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

Not as hifalutin as some of your other establishments that build their flapjacks into houses or palaces or what-not.

This is a simple pancake cabin, if Abraham Lincoln came to Sevier County to eat pancakes, this would be the kind of down-home, wholesome pancakery he would choose.

Seriously, the Pancake Cabin may have the single greatest menu item in the pancake kingdom. The Pineapple Upside Down Pancakes are phenomenal.

It can’t possibly be healthy and there’s a good chance after breakfast you’re going to need to rest awhile before you start your day, but that’s the price you pay for greatness.

Pancake Pantry
Pancake Pantry was Tennessee’s first pancake house (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

1. Pancake Pantry in Gatlinburg, Tenn.

Sorry. I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t leave them out. The original and the best.

This is pancake perfection. All hail.

Read Also: Tennessee’s first: Pancake Pantry holds the key to local hotcake obsession

Caribbean Pancakes
Behold … Caribbean Pancakes at the Pancake Pantry. All hail (photo by Morgan Overholt/TheSmokies.com)

Where’s your favorite place to eat pancakes in the Great Smoky Mountains? Leave your vote in the comments!