Dining in Pigeon Forge – Southern Hospitality at Mel’s Diner and The Old Mill
Pigeon Forge is home to fabulous authentic Southern food and pure hospitality. With so many places to choose from and different styles of food to sample, you won’t leave here hungry unless you decide to skip a meal.
When we took our family vacation in early August, we rolled into Pigeon Forge just before the sun had set. We decided to stop at Mel’s Diner, which is famous for its 1950s look and feel. We were seated in a booth with a view of the murals wrapping the windows and a TV playing sports in the corner. The walls were covered with memorabilia from musicians, movies, and cars.
Service was quick and friendly, and it didn’t seem like long (only ten minutes) until our orders came out. I decided on an onion burger, which was a hamburger with onions. My husband chose Mike’s Works burger. My daughter had a grilled cheese sandwich. Mel’s had the best thing ever at each table—a paper towel roll! With a three-year-old, accidents happen (and often in a restaurant), so it was a relief not to have to think ahead of what we could grab if she happened to spill her chocolate milk.
After we had finished our food (and grabbed our to-go boxes with leftovers) we headed to the checkout to pay for our order and some shirts from the gift area. That was when we were told the credit card system was down and they only accepted cash. We were supposed to have been told that when they seated us. Guess what? We didn’t have any cash! The lady at the register was so warm and gracious. She let our daughter pick out a free toy from their goody bowl for kids, and then told us we could go to the ATM across the street. When I asked if we should leave the shirts and food with her until we got back, she dismissed us, telling us that she trusted us. So we took our food and shirts back to the car and headed across the street to the ATM. When we got back from the ATM, she told us they discounted our food 15% for the inconvenience. I was so surprised at how well they treated us. It’s a different experience from what we get at home!
Old Mill Restaurant
Before we left for vacation, we discovered my husband’s cousin and his wife were staying in Pigeon Forge. We decided to meet up for breakfast at The Old Mill Restaurant. The restaurant is very homey, with the seating area split over three floors. We were seated on the top floor and could look out over the kitchen area. It was neat to see pancakes made en masse. We all decided on The Old Mill Breakfast, which was quite affordable and our $8.99 Old Mill Country Breakfast included pancakes, eggs made-to-order, sausage gravy, stone-ground corn grits, home fries, and bacon. Orange juice is something I love to drink with a full breakfast, and they serve it complimentary with every meal along with homemade banana nut muffins!
After the restaurant, we all decided to walk off our food with a visit to the Old Mill General Store. It has Smoky Mountain gifts, souvenirs, and toys for kids. My daughter fell in love with a purse that had a little deer in it, which I ended up buying for her (note: the store accepts Apple Pay). There were soup mixes and flour they grind next door (and use in the restaurant) available for purchase as well as kitchen equipment and tools.
If you have the time, visit the rest of The Old Mill shops, like The Old Forge Distillery. We were headed to Dollywood’s Splash Country, so we didn’t want to spend the time shopping when we could be splashing instead!
Have you experienced true Southern hospitality while visiting the Smokies? How about a meal that was so good you haven’t forgotten about it? Let your story be known by posting in the comments below.
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