Walking into Elvira’s Cafe is like walking into a small-town Smoky Mountain country store, complete with all the good cheer and southern hospitality that implies. However, Elvira’s is not a small-town country cafe. It is a very large restaurant that seats maybe a hundred or more and has people lined up for those precious seats during the height of tourist season.
Nevermind issues of scale. In fact, much of what you eat here really does reflect the values of a good country cook. BLTs are available with tart fried green tomatoes instead of ripe red ones. If you want to make this sandwich extra-good, get it made with extra-cost Benton’s bacon (from down in Madisonville), which is smoky and thick-cut — the highlight of any meal at Elvira’s.
On the side of whatever else is on the plate, whether breakfast or lunch, choose fried apples. They’re a passion here in apple country — cooked so they’re soft but still with bite, their fruity tang balanced by enveloping thick syrup.
On the side of lunch, which can range from burgers and “grown up grilled cheese” to buckwheat crepes and a prime-rib wrap dressed with basil pesto, there are good house-pickled beets, fried okra, hearty onion rings ($1 premium for those), and a homespun hash brown casserole.