Pigeon Forge is one of America’s most popular destinations. Over a million folks visit each year. Part of the reason is two-thirds of the nation’s population east of the Mississippi River lives within a day’s drive of Pigeon Forge.
Another reason are the attractions ranging from Dollywood to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, America’s most visited national park.
The 11 Best Pigeon Forge Restaurants
164 Old Mill Ave, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863, United States // +18654293463
Old Mill’s Story tells the beginnings of Pigeon Forge. It all started in 1786 when Mordecai Lewis settles on the banks of the river, later named the Little Pigeon River because of the now extinct passenger pigeons that used to roost along its banks.
His son-in-law, Issac Love, inherited the land after Lewis’s death and built an iron forge in 1817. In 1830, Issac’s son William and his brothers built a grist mill and named it Lewis Mill after their grandfather. The town grew and took its name from the pigeons and the forge.
Today, the Old Mill Restaurant is the place to dine in Pigeon Forge. Jimmy Proffitt and Donna Huffaker, with the Old Mill’s public relations department, met us there for a fantastic breakfast.
I had the Old Mill Country Breakfast, two farm fresh eggs cooked to order, small pancakes, their stone ground corn grits, homemade biscuits, tri-berry preserves, home fried potatoes, and country sausage gravy.
I added bacon and loved it, but some of my friends had country fried ham and raved about it. Don’t think you can go wrong with either choice.
They are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The restaurant is built from recycled materials, so you feel as if you are dining in a pioneer era building. Jimmy told us then they had an archaeologist there studying the forge’s original site, he found that the forge made iron bars to be shipped elsewhere to iron furnaces to be made into tools and equipment.
The archaeologist confirmed that the bars made in the old forge were the exact ones used in some of the present restaurant equipment.
The Pottery House Café is in the Old Mill district if you want to grab a light brunch or dinner. To treat your sweet tooth, The Old Mill Candy Kitchen has homemade fudge, hand-dipped chocolates, and lots of other candies. I sampled some of their chocolates and brittle and am having a sugar high still.
The Old Mill Creamery makes ice cream if you want a cool treat. The Old Forge Distillery is where you find old time moonshine made the right way.
If you want to do some cooking with real products, visit The Old Mill Farmhouse Kitchen for mixes and The Old Mill General Store for stone ground grains and lots of other products.
The door to The Old Mill General Store is the one that was on the mill originally and is covered with marks from tacks where notices of births, deaths, weddings, and other community events were posted. The old mill served as the first post office.
2655 Teaster Ln #220, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863, United States // +18652865527
If you’re looking for a sweet, simple breakfast, Cinnaholic is the place to go. It’s a chain vegan bakery specializing in sweets.
You can start with a cinnamon roll and choose your own frosting and toppings. I had one called Smoky Mountain Roll.
The roll was soft and tasty, and the toppings were mostly chocolate. Worked well for me since I am a chocoholic.
208 Pickel St, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863, United States // +18659084646
Mama’s Farmhouse is like dining at grandma’s. The Johnson family, who own the restaurant, models it on their great-grandmother ‘s kitchen. She was known as Mama. It’s all you can eat, but no lines.
Our server, dressed in farm ready coveralls, brought it all to our table and told us to just ask if we needed more.
The star of the show were the buttermilk biscuits which won first place in the People’s Choice Award at the 2015 International Biscuit Festival in Knoxville, Tennessee, with a concoction called “Mama Says ‘Don’t Say Maybe to Chocolate Gravy.’”
Of course, we had a helping of that chocolate gravy along with traditional sausage gravy. Scrambled eggs, buttery cinnamon sugar pinwheels, hash brown casserole, cheese grits, fresh fruit, sausage patties, chicken tenders, and applewood bacon rounded out our breakfast. There was even honey for my tea.
2480 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863, United States // +18652850155
Puckett’s began as a grocery owned by the Pluckett family in the little village of Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee in the 1950s. Andy Marshall was the owner of several Piggly Wiggly stores across the Southeast in 1998, but he loved his home-cooked food made with old family recipes.
He decided to sell his stores and purchase little Puckett’s Grocery. By 2002, Andy transformed the grocery into a restaurant and music venue.
It was such a success, he expanded to his now six locations following that model of great home cooked meat and three dishes specializing in BBQ.
So far, I have dined in three of them: the original in Leiper’s Fork, Chattanooga and just recently in Pigeon Forge.
Our hostess there, Christina Collins, the event sales coordinator, gave us some great suggestions from the menu. I went with smoked meatloaf with a salad and collard greens.
I love that the meatloaf was a perfect mixture of beef and pork smoked well. Since we had breakfast at The Old Mill, we were still pretty stuffed, so we passed on dessert, but I have had the banana pudding at other places and highly recommend it. If you are there for breakfast, try their biscuits and gravy. It’s a winner.
2655 Teaster Ln Suite 305, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863, United States // +18654095852
Azul Cantina blends traditional Tex-Mex dining with wood-fire grilling methods. It’s the first rooftop bar in Pigeon Forge. We ate in the Dolly Room graced by a wall covered in a mural of Dolly.
For an appetizer, we shared guacamole with Azul Special Chips. For my entree, I chose another appetizer, Matcho Wings.
They were mesquite smoked chicken wings tossed in a spicy salsa dressing and served with jicama and avocado dressing. They were delicious, but more than I could eat. I took the remnants to my room for later snacking.
We walked up to see the view from the rooftop bar. You can see all over the city from it. Craft cocktails here run the gamut from Rhinestone Cowboy made with tequila, elderberry liqueur, agave syrup and mint to Lone Star Libre with two kinds of rum, lime, demerara syrup, Coke Cola in a salt rimmed glass.
It might seem like an odd combination, but inside Country Roads Ax House is where you’ll find West by God Coal-Fired Pizza. Ben Boggess, Co-Founder of West by God Coal Fired Pizza, explained what makes his pizza different and better. As you might have guessed, Ben is from West Virginia, which is usually said as “West by God Virginia” to distinguish it from being a section of Virginia.
Ben explained that they make pizza the way Italian Immigrants to New York area made pizza. The dough is made fresh then let ferment for two or three days. The longer that the dough ferments, the more flavor profile and better construction you get from the dough. They use the New Haven, Connecticut pizza as their model.
After that, each pizza is handcrafted and cooked for about three and a half or four minutes in the 700-degree coal fired oven. Benis a certified pizzaiolo from Scuola Italiana Pizzaioli out of Naples, Italy. He let us come back and see the pizza in the oven.
We sampled about a dozen of the different pizzas ranging The Classic White with garlic, extra virgin olive oil, shredded mozzarella, and ricotta cheese and for vegetarians, The Gardener with garlic, extra virgin olive oil, shredded mozzarella, ricotta cheese, fresh tomato, spinach, mushroom, and balsamic drizzle to the more traditional The 1863 with tomato sauce, shredded mozzarella, pepperoni, homemade sausage, and mushroom.
My favorite was The Rock Lake, topped with tomato sauce, shredded mozzarella, bacon, pineapple, and bacon jam.
While enjoying pizza and throwing axes, you can sample craft beers at the 24 Tap Self-Serve Beer Wall. It’s charged by the ounce, so you can have as much or little as you like.
3849 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863, United States // +18654534400
Dolly Parton’s Stampede combines a fun show complete with fantastic horseback riders and a four-course feast starting with a bowl of creamy vegetable soup, (hint, bring your own spoon and some salt and pepper) a hot homemade biscuit to dip into the soup, a good sized Cornish hen, a slice of hickory smoked barbeque pork loin, buttery corn on the cob, herb basted potato, and for dessert, a hot flaky apple turnover.
I had sweet tea, but you can also have coke or coffee or buy an alcoholic drink at the stand.
The show was a combination of horsemanship, comedy, and a traditional Christmas story, with a touch of magic. Skeeter, a redneck barn hand sometimes riding his chicken named Nugget, steals the show from the MC who tries to maintain order in spite of Skeeter’s shenanigans.
There is a friendly rivalry as the MC divides the two sides as supporters of the North or South Pole Santa Helpers. Besides some gorgeous horses, you meet a few chickens, some little dogs, sheep, and a few majestic camels ridden by “the wise men.”
2530 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863, United States // +18653663330
We didn’t get to eat or see the show at Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Feud, but we did stop by and meet a couple of the lumberjacks. They showed us around and helped teach us how to throw axes. Since I didn’t even hit the target, I guess I’ll never make a lumberjack.
Our host explained why the name, around here, dinner is called “Supper” so instead of calling it a dinner show, they have the only supper show.
You get to watch the lumberjacks compete and a friendly family feud while you enjoy your supper consisting of a BBQ sandwich, coleslaw, baked beans, a drink, and a cookie.
During the Christmas season, they offer a turkey sandwich, dressing, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and dessert. Our concession stand has popcorn, snacks, and hot chocolate.
2533 Teaster Ln, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863, United States // +18653661334
Pigeon Forge Snow is a cross between tubing and snow sledding. It’s the first indoor snow complex in North America with a 200-foot-long snow slide you glide down on innertubes.
It’s always about 60% to 70% so you can skip the winter coats. There’s a snow play area where guests can build snowmen and play in the snow and a snack bar and viewing area to watch those tubing. You can get snacks, chips, crackerjack, and an amazing variety of candy in the snack bar.
2420 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863, United States // +18656066700
Sky Pirates of Mermaid Bay will be opening soon. We got a sneak peek. It’s mini-golf with a story. There are indoor and outdoor courses all themed by the competition between Captain Thunderbeard and his Sky Pirates pitted against the Mermaid Folks trying to protect their treasure from the Sky Pirates. You can choose whether to join the mermaids or the pirates.
There’ll be plenty of goodies to fuel you, no matter which side you choose. Try Pineapple Dole Whip Float, or try churros with chocolate.
Looking for savory instead, grab a soft pretzel, nachos, or a slice of piping-hot pizza. You can drink an Icee, choose a Coke product at Root Beard’s Tavern, or enjoy a bottled beverage. Take home a memory with your own Souvenir Cup. It’s definitely one of the best Pigeon Forge Restaurants.
131 The Island Dr #9116, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863, United States // +18654366995
The Baker family has been making moonshine in the Smoky Mountains for over a hundred years, but it wasn’t until Tennessee state law changed, making distilling legal, that Joe Baker opened East Tennessee’s first federally licensed distillery in Gatlinburg, Ole Smoky Distillery.
Today, they have a distillery at The Island in Pigeon Forge. Some friends and I were doing a tasting there with Sandy, who explained each sample as she poured tiny shots for us. The variety was amazing. There were some like the sweet pineapples steeped in Ole Smoky Pina Colada Moonshine.
Then there were 128 proof Blue Flame Moonshine and White Lightnin’ Moonshine that brought to mind the George Jones song “White Lightnin’.”
That’s where I met Will Perkins, General Manager. He led us into the distillery area and told us about the products and history. Then he mentioned something amazing. “We’re going to be releasing two of Popcorn Sutton’s recipes next week.”
For those of you who do not know Popcorn Sutton’s story, he was a North Carolina moonshiner and bootlegger made famous in books, songs, and documentaries. Sutton, a Scots-Irish American, descended from a long line of Appalachian moonshiners, considered moonshining part of his heritage.
He earned the nickname of “Popcorn” when he attacked a bar’s popcorn vending machine with a pool cue when it failed to deliver the popcorn he wanted. Over a long career of moonshining, he had served time only once in an Ashville correctional institute, but had gotten several suspended sentences and probation for his moonshining.
In March 2008, he made the mistake of telling an undercover federal agent he had 500 gallons of moonshine in Tennessee and 400 gallons in Maggie Valley he wanted to sell.
When the ATF raided his property, he was arrested and in January 2009, was sentenced to 18 months in a federal prison for the illegal whiskey and possession of a firearm by a felon.
He was given a date to report to the prison.
However, on March 16, 2009, his wife Pam returned to their home in Parrottsville, Tennessee and found him dead in his green Ford Fairmont.
His daughter said he had previously told her he would die by suicide rather than go to jail, saying, “ I have the strength to die the way I lived, according to my own wishes and no one else’s.”
Will told me Sutton’s wife Pam had given them the recipes. One product is a 100 Proof blend of straight bourbon whiskeys from Tennessee and North Carolina.
The other called “Popcorn’s Likker,” is made from Popcorn’s original moonshine recipe with a blend of cane and grain. It’s 100 Proof, Popcorn’s favorite proof. The production is at its Newport, Tennessee facility but will be available at all Ole Smoky locations.
Pigeon Forge has many dining options, but these are the most unique ones I found.
I’m Kathleen Walls, former reporter for Union Sentinel in Blairsville, GA, currently publisher/writer for American Roads and Global Highways. I live in Middleburg, FL but travel extensively, mainly in the U.S. I’m the author of travel books, Georgia’s Ghostly Getaways, Finding Florida’s Phantoms, Hosts With Ghosts, and Wild About Florida series, and several novels. All available at my site, katywalls.com/.
Publications I write for include Travel the South, Roadtrippers, Travel Awaits, World Footprints, Snowbirds and RV Travelers, Family RVing, Deep South, Florida Country, and more. My photographs appear in many publications. I also do videos. I’m a proud member of International Food, Wine, and Travel Writers (IFWTA), Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), and North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA).