The Donut Friar, which is tucked away in The Village Shops in downtown Gatlinburg, is an affordable treat worthy of your visit. This small donut shop has been faithfully serving tourists and locals since 1969 and has a loyal following. While your body may not thank you for these delectable fat pills, your mouth definitely will.
Since the staff starts making donuts from scratch long before the 5:00 AM daily opening, don’t be surprised if a strong aroma supernaturally pulls you into this tiny shop. Once you see bakery cases filled with homemade goodness, you will be rendered helpless. The wide variety of donuts, which range from $0.97 to $1.14 each, are made on-site each morning. Some of my favorite baked goods include the traditional glazed donuts, crullers, eclairs, cinnamon rolls, and of course their world-famous cinnamon bread.
Since the sheer number of people crammed in this tiny café at peak times can make just about anyone feel claustrophobic, I recommend dining in the courtyard or taking this treat to go. Unfortunately, the service is sometimes lackluster and this establishment, but don’t let the frown on the Friar’s face prevent you from experiencing the sheer joy only one of his donuts can bring.
In addition to the baked items, The Donut Friar features a coffee bar with coffee, espresso, cappuccino, latte, and other common espresso-based drinks. The coffee is some of the best in downtown Gatlinburg.
Unfortunately, The Donut Friar accepts cash only – no credit cards here. Although the donuts are awesome, the locals love the world-famous cinnamon bread. The cinnamon bread sells out almost every day so get there early and enjoy this time-tested Smoky Mountain tradition. If you call ahead and catch them in the right mood, they will set some aside for you.
Go early in the morning (before 9:00 AM) and you can park on the Parkway for free.
The Donut Friar is located in The Village Shops directly behind the iconic fountain. The Village Shops are located near Traffic Light #6 in downtown Gatlinburg behind the Pancake Pantry.