Lil Black Bear really is li’l: a close-coupled diner just off Pigeon Forge’s main drag. It’s a personable place with all the charm of a small-town cafe, owned and operated by chef Lynn Sherrod. You’ll definitely meet Mr. Sherrod — the place is too tiny not to meet him. Even when it’s crowded, he makes a point of greeting one and all. And when he’s cooking in the minuscule kitchen just behind the cash register, you’ll hear him singing and rhapsodizing about the food he makes. While at the griddle preparing a day’s special called Rocky Top Bologna, he croons the song Rocky Top in a sparkling falsetto.
About that Rocky Top: It’s a disc of thick-sliced smoked bologna griddle-fried crisp at its edge, piled into a toasted onion bun along with melted cheese and a fistful of potato chips. It’s strapping mix of ingredients that seems crazy but tastes right.
Another off-the-wall special is billed as a Squealing Burger: a good-size patty of beef topped with a fistful of sauced pulled pork and plenty of orange cheese on Texas toast.
Even breakfast pancakes are outlandish. In a town overcrowded with pancake parlors, Lil Black Bear’s stand out because they really are pan-cakes, each one nearly an inch thick, and yet not dense or doughy. They’re good with only butter and syrup, but deluxe versions are available, such as a two-stack topped with melted Reese’s chocolate peanut butter cups.