Smoky Mountain Diner in Hot Springs, North Carolina

Ask any food aficionado, and that tasteful traveler will likely tell you that discovering a great finer is an experience akin to uncovering a genuine corner of paradise.

Entrepreneur Clarence Loflin surely stumbled upon that sacred connection in the mid 1980s when he was trying to figure out how to make good use of his tomato-packing building in Hot Springs, North Carolina. The price of tomatoes had dropped dramatically—marketing the fruit was no longer profitable—but there he was, the owner of an edifice equipped with two large freezers. Because the building was already refrigerated, Loflin opted to turn it into a diner. But what would he call his new enterprise? The morning light was illuminating the clouds that blanketed the mountain side—and gave him his answer. The view reminded him of scenes he’s seen in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a mere twenty miles away, beautiful, otherworldly, heavenly.

Lofin decided upon the name “Smoky Mountain Diner.”