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Growing up in and now back in Nashville, I’ve had my fair share of adventures in the Smoky Mountains. One of our favorite things to do as a family is to explore the best diners in Pigeon Forge, one of our favorite places to vacation!
There’s something incredibly comforting about the aroma of sizzling bacon, the sight of fluffy pancakes, and the sound of our boys’ laughter filling these cozy diners. Each visit to Pigeon Forge brings a new culinary adventure, and over the years, we’ve discovered some truly delightful spots.
Most of the time when we visit a diner in the area, it’s not for breakfast, but breakfast food is on the menu! We love heading to a place with an all day breakfast menu, as the boys often love eggs, pancakes and bacon for dinner. Who can blame them?
In this article, I’m excited to share our family’s favorite diners in Pigeon Forge, where the food is delicious, the atmosphere is welcoming, and the memories we’ve made are priceless.
Mel’s Classic Diner
Mel’s Classic Diner is a beloved family-owned and operated restaurant located in the heart of Pigeon Forge. This 50’s style diner is known for its budget-friendly, home-style meals served in a classic diner atmosphere. The nostalgia of the diner is part of its charm, transporting visitors back to a simpler time. And it’s at the top of our list for a reason!
On the Menu
Mel’s Diner offers a wide variety of diner staples, from hearty breakfast plates to juicy burgers. You can enjoy breakfast at any time of the day or indulge in a milkshake for breakfast if you wish. The menu includes nachos, cheese fries, cheeseburgers, chicken and dumplings, and jumbo grilled cheese.
One of the must-try items at Mel’s Diner is their legendary banana split. Known as Mel’s Famous Ultimate Banana Split, it features two scoops each of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry ice cream nestled between a split banana. The ice cream is then topped with strawberry topping, pineapple topping, and chocolate syrup, and finished off with whipped cream, nuts, and a cherry on top. This dessert is a true testament to the diner’s commitment to classic American comfort food.
Mel’s Classic Diner is located at 119 Wears Valley Road, right off the Parkway and just minutes from Dollywood and Gatlinburg. It’s a perfect spot for a delicious meal after a long day of exploring the Smoky Mountains.
The Sunliner Diner
The Sunliner Diner is a classic 50’s-themed American Diner with only two locations in the world: Gulf Shores, Alabama, and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. This diner is a tribute to the late 50’s and early 60’s American car culture, offering a nostalgic dining experience that transports you back in time. The Sunliner Diner is a perfect spot for a delicious meal after a long day of exploring the Smoky Mountains.
On the Menu
The Sunliner Diner serves hearty breakfast meals all day, just as it should be in a classic diner. The menu also includes lunch and dinner options starting from 11 am. While the menu includes classic diner staples like meatloaf and country-fried chicken, it also offers a touch of modernity with options like avocado burgers and a New York Strip steak dinner. For those with a sweet tooth, the diner offers an impressive menu of milkshakes, splits, and sundaes.
One of the must-try items at The Sunliner Diner is the Authentic 1950’s Shake. You can choose from chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla, and it’s topped with whipped cream and a cherry. This shake is a perfect representation of the classic 50’s diner experience. If you’re in the mood for pancakes, their delicious Chocolate Chip Pancakes are a must-try.
The Sunliner Diner is located right on the Parkway in Pigeon Forge, making it a convenient and delightful stop during your visit to the Smoky Mountains.
Bob’s Burgers at the 50’s Diner
Tucked away inside an antique mall on Wears Valley Road, Bob’s Burgers at the 50’s Diner is a hidden gem that offers a classic diner experience. This casual spot is a local favorite where you can grab a stool at the counter and watch as your order is prepared right in front of you. The atmosphere is reminiscent of the 50s, making it a nostalgic trip down memory lane.
On the Menu
Bob’s Burgers serves up delicious diner food that includes burgers, fries, hot dogs, floats, and sundaes. The menu may be simple, but the flavors are anything but. Each dish is prepared with care and served with a side of friendly service.
When visiting Bob’s Burgers, we recommend trying their signature burgers and fries. The burgers are juicy and flavorful, and the fries are the perfect crispy accompaniment. Don’t forget to try their floats and sundaes for a sweet end to your meal.
Bob’s Burgers at the 50’s Diner is located inside the antique mall at 1386 Wears Valley Road in Pigeon Forge, right across from Goats on the Roof. It’s a spot you won’t want to miss on your next visit to Pigeon Forge.
My husband and three of our four sons at Waffle House
Okay, okay, I know you might be thinking – really?? Waffle House?? But hear me out. There have been many times that we’ve ended at at the Pigeon Forge Waffle House either because we got into town late or because many other restaurants were packed and we could find a table here, plus we really actually love Waffle House as a family!
Waffle House is a staple in the South, and its location in Pigeon Forge is no exception. This diner is known for its welcoming atmosphere and delicious, hearty meals served at any time of the day or night. Whether you’re craving breakfast after a late night or looking for a satisfying lunch or dinner, Waffle House has you covered.
On the Menu
At Waffle House, you can expect classic breakfast staples like biscuits, potatoes, gravy, and sausage. But that’s not all. One of their signature dishes is the BLT with a side of hash browns, scattered, covered, and smothered as God intended. It’s a dish that’s as comforting as it is delicious.
When visiting Waffle House, you can’t go wrong with their signature BLT and hash browns. The combination of crispy bacon, fresh lettuce and tomatoes, and perfectly cooked hash browns is a match made in heaven. And of course, no visit to Waffle House would be complete without trying their namesake waffles. Light, fluffy, and served with a side of syrup, they’re the perfect way to start or end your day. Personally I love their biscuit with sausage gravy.
With its convenient location, friendly service, and delicious food, it’s a must-visit on any trip to Pigeon Forge. You can find Waffle House at 3629 Parkway in Pigeon Forge.
Reds Drive In
Reds Drive In is a unique diner located inside the Dollywood theme park. The restaurant was inspired by Reds Cafe, where a young Dolly Parton reportedly had her first hamburger in downtown Sevierville. It’s a great place to grab a delicious burger and crispy fries. However, the menu is more limited than most others on the list, but it’s theme park dining, after all. Reds is located in Jukebox Junction.
On the Menu
Reds Drive In offers a classic diner menu with a focus on American favorites: burgers and fries. While the menu is more limited than some, it’s perfect for a quick, satisfying meal while enjoying the attractions of Dollywood.
While the menu might be limited, the quality of the food is not. We recommend trying their signature burgers and crispy fries for a classic diner experience.
Reds Drive In is located inside Dollywood, so you’ll need park admission to dine here. When we are in the park, this is one restaurant that we frequent because it’s more affordable than some other spots.
Lil’ Black Bear Café
Lil’ Black Bear Café is a local favorite in Pigeon Forge, known for its cozy atmosphere and delicious food. The café is open from Tuesday to Saturday, from 8 am to 2 pm, making it the perfect spot for breakfast or lunch. The menu is simple, with only ten options, but each dish is carefully crafted to deliver a satisfying dining experience.
On the Menu
The menu at Lil’ Black Bear Café may be small, but it’s packed with flavor. Breakfast is a standout, with rave reviews for their pancakes and omelets. For lunch, the café offers a selection of sandwiches, including a Reuben with real corned beef and a Patty Melt with a hamburger patty on grilled rye with grilled onions and two slices of provolone.
When visiting Lil’ Black Bear Café, we highly recommend trying their breakfast offerings, particularly the pancakes and omelets. For lunch, the Reuben and Patty Melt are must-tries.
Remember, the café is closed on Sundays and Mondays, so plan your visit accordingly. You can find Lil’ Black Bear Café at 3068 Veterans Blvd in Pigeon Forge.
Other great Pigeon Forge Restaurants
If the diners are full, here are some of the best places to eat that aren’t diners in the area:
Final Thoughts on the Best Diners in Pigeon Forge
Pigeon Forge is a treasure trove of culinary delights, with a rich array of diners that serve up the best breakfast, the best food, and a taste of southern classics. Each diner we’ve listed offers a unique dining experience, from the nostalgic charm of Mel’s Classic Diner to the cozy atmosphere of Lil’ Black Bear Café.
These diners are more than just places to eat; they are part of the Pigeon Forge experience. They offer a taste of the local culture, serving up dishes that are as rich in history as they are in flavor. Whether you’re craving a hearty breakfast platter, a classic burger, or a pot roast that tastes just like grandma used to make, you’ll find it in one of these diners.
After a long day exploring the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, there’s nothing better than sitting down to a delicious meal in one of Pigeon Forge’s best restaurants. These diners offer affordable prices, family-style dining, and a variety of menu items that cater to different flavors and dietary preferences.
So, the next time you find yourself in Pigeon Forge, don’t just settle for any meal. Make it a point to visit these diners and experience the best food that Pigeon Forge has to offer. Whether it’s the most important meal of the day or a dinner menu filled with southern comfort food, these diners are sure to leave you satisfied.
Remember, enjoying a good meal isn’t just about the food. It’s about the experience, the atmosphere, and the memories you create. So, whether you’re a local or a visitor, a food lover or a casual diner, make your next meal a memorable one by dining at one of the best diners in Pigeon Forge TN.
Hope to see you there!