The best Wears Valley restaurants, our top 5 ranked

Hillbilly's Restaurant in Wears Valley

Hillbilly's Restaurant in Wears Valley has a simple yet classic menu (photo by Bill Burris/TheSmokies.com)

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I grew up not far from the small community of Walland, in Blount County, Tenn.

When I was old enough to run the roads and free enough to drive myself to Sevier County, I had the choice of 411 into Sevierville, Wears Valley Road into Pigeon Forge or through the National Park into Gatlinburg. 

Wears Valley was always my favorite. The views were the best and I’ve always been fascinated by the hillside cemetery at Headrick’s Chapel.

It’s beautiful but impractical, with graves dug right into the side of the mountain.

I’ve been curious about the planning of that cemetery for decades now. I can’t imagine entering into eternal rest feeling like you’re about to Jack and Jill right outta the coffin. 

I don’t want to give the wrong impression. Wears Valley wasn’t barren then. There were a handful of antique shops and a couple of restaurants.

But unless I was going to Metcalf Bottoms to tube or picnic, Wears Valley was a conduit, not a destination. 

I just never had much reason to stop in the valley as there were always more interesting things in the bookend communities of Pigeon Forge or Townsend. 

Times have changed. 

Wears Valley isn’t yet the strip in Pigeon Forge, but it’s far from the relatively obscure mountain valley of my youth. Today, Wears Valley is home to much more.

There’s wine and ‘shine, shopping and many more attractions than when I was a kid.

Add in a wide variety of restaurants that are worth the drive from Pigeon Forge or Townsend, and Wears Valley is the place to be. 

Here are the top five best restaurants in Wears Valley, Tennessee:

Hillbilly's Restaurant
Hillbilly’s Restaurant is only open for breakfast and lunch (photo by Bill Burris/TheSmokies.com)

5. Hillbilly’s Restaurant

Hillbilly’s goes hard at three things: Breakfast, bizarre menu font choices and alternative spellings. This restaurant isn’t going to wow you with options.

For breakfast, it’s pancakes, biscuits, eggs and meats. For lunch, it is burgers, sandwiches and the odd salad or two.

There’s no dinner. The restaurant closes at 2 pm. It all feels appropriate for the setting. If you’re not country and are unfamiliar with the joys of a fried bologna sandwich, then live a little, overlook the painfully clever spelling and order Cuzin Bo’s Dream. 

Read Also: Pigeon Forge restaurants that take reservations

Gepetto's Italian in Wears Valley
Geppetto’s offers Italian treats such as sandwiches, pizza and pasta (photo by Bill Burris/TheSmokies.com)

4. Geppetto’s Italian Restaurant (Closed)

Editor’s Note: Gepetto’s is closed as of June 2021 until further notice due to a fire. It is unclear if and when the restaurant will reopen.

Just when you thought you had all the answers when it came to dining off the beaten path in the Smokies, the good people at Geppetto’s went and changed the questions.

When everybody else is serving down home country fare, what did Geppetto’s do? They went southern: Southern Italian.

Dovetailing nicely with Hillbilly’s, the restaurant is open until 10 pm through the week (except on Mondays) and 11 pm on the weekends offering sandwiches, pizza, pasta and more.

I don’t care if I’m in the hills of Tuscany or the mountains of East Tennessee, give me a good Italian sausage with peppers and onions and I’m a happy guy. 

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Wears Valley Social
Wears Valley Social is a food truck park that offers an array of culinary options (photo by Bill Burris/TheSmokies.com)

3. Wears Valley Social

Life is like Wears Valley Social, a food truck park located in Wears Valley, you never know what you’re gonna get.

Food trucks are all the rage for culinary geniuses with a vision and a love of low overhead.

The Park, located at 3209 Wears Valley Road, offers a weekly schedule of area geniuses who gas up their truck and come to cook culinary delights for the tourists. Authentic tacos, seafood, chicken wings, BBQ and more are among the offerings at this nomadic foodie destination.  

Elvira's Cafe
Elvira’s Cafe in Wears Valley is a great place to eat in a beautiful setting (photo by Bill Burris/TheSmokies.com)

2. Elvira’s Café

I’ve known of two Elviras in my life. First, was the campy 70s and 80s era celebrity Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.

Second, whoever the Oak Ridge Boys were singing about back in the day. It’s possible, I suppose, that the Oak Ridge Boys were singing about the Mistress of the Dark, but it feels unlikely.

Anyway, Elvira’s Café is more than simply a place to irritate your children singing oom-papa, oom-papa, mow, mows. It’s a dang good place to eat in a beautiful setting.

You can eat at Elvira’s anytime and get a good meal, but I’m a big fan of their breakfast options. You can’t go wrong with the Mountain Man Omelet or, if you’re in the mood for daintier fare, one of Elvira’s savory crepes is the go-to choice.

Hi ho Silver, away!

PawPaws Catfish Kitchen in Wears Valley
PawPaws Catfish Kitchen brings Louisiana flare to the mountains of East Tennessee (photo by Bill Burris/TheSmokies.com)

1. PawPaws Catfish Kitchen

God bless the people of Louisiana.

They’re acolytes, carrying the good message of Cajun and Creole cooking to the masses. How did a former tugboat cook find his way to Wears Valley and begin slingin’ Cajun culinary masterpieces? I don’t know. I don’t care. It doesn’t matter.

Gumbo, jambalaya, red beans, etouffee, muffulettas and po’ boys. None of these things belong nestled up to the mountains of Wears Valley, but somehow it all fits. The house specialties are catfish Acadiana, and catfish Orleans.

They are works of art and should be on permanent display in the Louvre. 

Come hungry and be ready to stay awhile. Take your time. Order some Boudin Balls as an appetizer and live your life like it’s supposed to be lived, eating Cajun food in the mountains of Tennessee.

Which one is your favorite Wears Valley restaurant? Let us know in the comments!

Disclaimer: While we do our best to bring you the most up-to-date information, attractions or prices mentioned in this article may vary by season and are subject to change. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any mentioned business, and have not been reviewed or endorsed these entities. Contact us at info@thesmokies.com for questions or comments.

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6 thoughts on “The best Wears Valley restaurants, our top 5 ranked”

  1. We had lunch at paw paws catfish resturant for first time after years of coming to area. Can’t wait to come back for catfish and bread pudding. Best ever.

  2. Hillbilly’s Restaurant is clean and the staff is very friendly. The food is delicious and on weekends the breakfast bar is always fresh. I cant wait to go back next time Im in Wears Valley.

  3. Hillbillys is my #1 favorite little place to eat in the Valley. Paw paws is my #1 too…. Ha Ha

  4. We love the Hillbilly Restaurant ! you never leave hungry and their pancakes are huge !!!

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