#19 of 46 Pigeon Forge Restaurants

Mel’s Classic Diner

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Mel's Classic Diner: Pigeon Forge's Nostalgic Eatery
Local Expert's Rating:
4.5 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Mel's Classic Diner has been in business for as long as it has because the owners, cooks, and service staff know how to go above and beyond. They create a nostalgic experience for everyone coupled with amazing eats, tasty treats, and a retro ambience that's unlike anything else in the Smoky Mountains.

- The SmokyMountains.com Local Expert Team

Having been a mainstay in the Smoky Mountains for decades, Mel’s Classic Diner is an unmistakable ’50s-style eatery in the heart of Pigeon Forge. The diner serves up generous portions of classic American food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, making it a memorable treat for the whole family.

Located just off the Parkway on Wears Valley Road at traffic light no. 3, Mel’s Classic Diner offers delicious hamburgers, home-cooked entrees, hearty sandwiches, and gigantic banana splits. The bright neon sign catches passersby attention from the Parkway, inviting them to sit a spell in the narrow diner.

Once inside, you’ll delight in the sensory treat of the diner’s metal-tone, textured ceiling with black-and-white checkered floors, neon accent lighting, and jukebox tunes. The joint has become such an iconic establishment in the Smoky Mountains that you can even purchase Mel’s Classic Diner T-shirts and souvenirs just to prove you’ve been here!

While the atmosphere alone is enough to impress, the diner’s food is what keeps customers coming back for more. Menu items are reminiscent of what grandma used to make, so you won’t be disappointed! Plus, the place runs like a well-oiled machine. The staff is friendly, service is fantastic, and the whole place glistens. When you want an all-American, home-cooked experience with quick drink refills and clean surroundings, Mel’s Classic Diner is the restaurant for you.

Menu Favorites:

  • Specialty Burgers: Mel’s burgers are famous in these parts, so when you have a hankering for a cheeseburger, this diner has you covered. The burger menu consists of apt names like the Ritchie Valen’s Jalapeno Cheeseburger, the Big Bopper Bacon Cheeseburger, and Marilyn’s Mushroom Cheeseburger. Every burger comes with your choice of chips, fries, pasta salad, or potato salad, and you can choose from American, Swiss, or cheddar cheese.
  • Dawn’s Pulled Pork Barbecue: If you prefer to sample some home cooking, Mel’s Classic Diner offers pulled pork barbecue that’s been slow-roasted for 14 hours.
  • Big Daddy’s Gut Buster Breakfast: As for breakfast options, Mel’s Classic Diner serves golden-brown pancakes, biscuits and gravy, French toast, and other popular options. Try the Big Daddy’s Gut Buster Breakfast with eggs, hash browns or grits, a short stack or biscuits, and country fried steak or ham if you’re feeling hungry.

Given the diner’s popularity, it gets crowded, and wait times can be lengthy. Despite having to stand outside for an open spot in the shiny diner, the wait is worth it. In fact, Mel’s Classic Diner has become a go-to favorite for many recurring visitors in Pigeon Forge. Many of the customers grew up coming here, and they continue the tradition by bringing their kids. As such, folks here can feel like family, which is exactly what you hope to experience in the Smokies.

Insider Tips:

  • With the restaurant’s generous food portions, you may not have room to sample the desserts. To make the most of the six-scoop banana split, bring a friend for a late-night dessert. The diner is open until 1 a.m., which makes it the perfect spot to satisfy the need for a midnight snack.
  • Check out the diner’s website for the latest coupons. Most of the time, you can save up to 10 percent off your bill simply by snagging the coupon code before visiting.