Just off the Parkway, Junction 35 Spirits serves up fine Smoky Mountain liquors: definitely worth trying, ideally via one of the informative tasting sessions. But there’s more to this place than high-quality, locally made booze: The associated kitchen turns out delicious American cuisine with no small share of Southern soul.
The ambiance is winning: an airy design evoking a train station, with exposed brick and high ceilings. It’s an inviting place to pull up a stool and stay awhile. The bartenders and waitstaff are basically across-the-board great, too.
The Junction 35 distillery—which gets its name from a nod to railroad history and Pigeon Forge’s latitude—produces a variety of craft spirits. There’s genuine Great Smoky Mountain moonshine—“white dog whiskey”—in both 100-proof original form as well as various flavors, from Apple Pie to Margarita to Blackberry. Choose from Straight Bourbon (aged a bit over two years) or Straight Rye (aged for three years), or flavored whiskeys if that floats your boat. Then there’s Puerto Rican-style rum, gin made with local botanicals, and both original and flavored Junction 35 vodka.
While you can stick to a tasting experience, we recommend sparing some time and some appetite for the Junction 35 Kitchen & Bar’s cookery. (Having some bites will also help balance out the booze, right?) Southern-influenced American cuisine is the main focus. You can start things off with a rich lineup of lip-smacking appetizers, including the crispy brisket goodness of Burnt Ends, Pimento Dip (“the caviar of the South”) served with pita chips, and some highly recommended BBQ Nachos.
Speaking of BBQ, you can’t go wrong ordering one of the platters of either pulled pork, sliced beef brisket, or a half-chicken, or going the half- or full rack of ribs. These plates come with your choice of two sides, from house slaw and potato salad to sweet potato waffle fries and baked beans.
Those BBQ meats show up on the Junction 35 sandwiches, too, which also include the brunch-friendly Farmhouse, complete with bacon, a fried egg, and brie. The Junction 35 burgers, meantime, feature natural pasture-raised, hormone- and antibiotic-free Southern Natural Farms beef.
The artisan mac-and-cheese is a highlight, coming in a few different forms (among them a Veggie Mac option), and there are several salads to choose from.
Have some pint-sized (and possibly fussy) eaters with you? The Junction 35 kids menu should fit the bill, from sliders and chicken tenders to mac-and-cheese and PB&J.
Alongside the spirits themselves, the beverage menu includes beer and cider (including local craft creations) as well as sweet and unsweetened tea, soft drinks, Black Rifle Coffee, and fresh lemonade.
We’d recommend sampling any of the Junction 35 liquors, maybe most especially the moonshine and the whiskeys. Meanwhile, here are some specific food items on the menu we suggest trying:
Easily one of the stars of the Junction 35 Kitchen & Bar show, these hand-breaded and flash-fried pickles come with a mouthwatering house-made buttermilk ranch dipping sauce.
J35 Smokehouse Mac-&-Cheese
While you can also go with the brisket or the chicken, we’d humbly suggest the pinnacle version of this creamy delight is the mac-and-cheese with pulled pork. Throw in the caramelized bourbon and onions that also top the dish, and you’re going to be ready for the races.
Junction 35 Burger
House pimento joins forces with bourbon bacon jam and chopped onions to take a Southern Natural Farms patty to next-level territory!
Whether you’re a genuine connoisseur of craft spirits or just finding yourself in Pigeon Forge with a growling stomach, Junction 35 is a homerun establishment with friendly staff and great all-around product. Definitely give it a try!
– If you’re looking for a Pigeon Forge/Smoky Mountain country souvenir, Junction 35 sells quite the array of merchandise: t-shirts, hoodies, and more featuring the place’s cool-looking logo, and all of it pretty reasonably priced.