Just like many of you, I have been to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, TN numerous times. Fun places. Beautiful scenery. Lots of memorable restaurants and attractions — The Old Mill, The Apple Barn, Pancake House, Dixie Stampede, Dollywood, Ober Gatlinburg, etc. etc. etc. And, of course, the shops and factory outlet stores. I’m sure I’ll go back again at some point, but I have just returned from Maggie Valley, and I MUST recommend that you check it out. I found it to be a quieter, gentler destination with far less traffic but just as much beauty.
Maggie Valley also loosely encompasses Waynesville and Lake Junaluska. The mountain scenery is outstanding, and yes, there is a bubbling creek running there, just like in Tennessee. Cute shops abound, as well as recreational choices and places to stay. You’ll be hearing about lots more in the weeks ahead. But, just in case you are headed there soon to take advantage of PEAK, LEAF-PEEPING, I wanted to make you aware of three great places to eat. They are very different, but all are locally popular and have delicious food on their menus.
- The Sweet Onion Restaurant is located at 39 Miller Street in Waynesville. Either make a reservation or be sure you’re standing in line when it opens at 11:30 a.m. It’s THAT popular. Sweet Onion stays open until 9:00 Monday through Saturday, and the choices on the menu are vast. The Sweet Onion Soup and the Crispy Mozzarella and Tomato Salad are UNUSUALLY good. I tried the soup personally, and I heard about the Crispy Mozzarella salad from many of my fellow folks in line. Check the website. I’m sure you will find some of your own favorites. It’s right down the hill from Main St. You can’t miss it.
- Butts on the Creek BBQ can be found at 1584 Soco Road in Maggie Valley. Go ahead and admit it. That’s a pretty cute name for a barbecue joint. It’s rusty but has a good size seating capacity and a gurgling creek to enjoy in the back. Like Sweet Onion, it opens at 11:30, but make a note that Butts on the Creek is closed on Mondays. As expected, hickory-smoked barbecue reigns supreme on the menu, but we actually had catfish with squash casserole and fried apples and thought it was extremely good. This is a very casual place but is also very popular. Don’t be surprised if you have to wait a bit for a table.
- Frogs Leap Public House, at 44 Church Street in Waynesville, is the most upscale of these three. It opens for dinner at 5:00 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday nights and for brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. A large board in the main dining area lists the local farms from which they buy and prepare most of what is served. The owner Toni is strongly committed to serving the freshest ingredients possible as she supports growers. I like her motto: “Innovative Southern Food with a Local Backbone.” My friends and I were there for Sunday brunch. Flatbreads, poached egg dishes and sliders were heavily featured on the menu. I love it when a menu sends me scrambling to find a culinary dictionary, and I hope to go back for dinner sometime in the future.
So, if you head in that direction soon, I urge you to try one or all of these notable eateries. My friend Kay told me about them. Now I’m telling you. Enjoy!