Food
2.5k voters

The Best Southern Restaurant Chains

Updated November 21, 2019 18.4k votes 2.5k voters 118.5k views44 items

List RulesVote up your favorite restaurant chains that started in The South and are still considered "regional" - i.e. no Chick-Fil-A, no Schlotzsky's, etc. Only restaurants with more than five existing locations.

Fried chicken, biscuits, barbecue, tacos... The American South covers a lot of area, and the variety of food its inhabitants love is just as wide. This is a list of the best Southern restaurant chains, including fast food, fast casual restaurants, and even single-state hole-in-the-wall-type places that only have a handful of (much beloved) locations. Is your favorite on the list? Here, you'll find the kind of places Southern ex-pats dream about - and drop in to visit whenever they're back "home." 

What boundaries would you draw around the South? Which fast food chains are officially "Southern"? The list includes restaurant corporations that originated in the Southern states as defined by the U.S. census bureau: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. While some of these states fought for the Confederacy, others were heavily influenced by the cultures of Mexico, France, and, even just the Northern part of the U.S. Some are lush with trees and mosquitoes, and others have alligators or mountains or crabs or deserts. All of them will deep-fry just about anything. All of them.

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  • 1
    807
    376

    Waffle House

    Avondale Estates, GA
    2,000+ locations across the US, but mostly in the South
  • 2
    798
    317

    Whataburger

    Corpus Christi, TX
    700+ locations across the South, NM, and OK
  • 3
    857
    397

    Cracker Barrel

    Lebanon, Tennessee
    600+ locations across the US, but mostly in the South
  • 4
    569
    277
    600+ locations across the Southeast, PA, MD, and DC
  • 5
    597
    328

    Zaxby's

    Statesboro, GA
    600+ locations across the Southeast, IN, MO, OK, and UT
  • 6
    447
    255

    Cook Out

    Greensboro, NC
    150+ locations across GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, WV, and VA
  • 7
    435
    372

    Hardee's

    Greenville, NC
    1,900+ locations across the Southeast and Midwest
  • 8
    324
    249
    300+ locations across the US, but mostly in the South
  • 9
    367
    230
    150+ locations across the US, but mostly in the South
  • 10
    279
    212

    Jason's Deli

    Beaumont, TX
    250 Locations in 29 States
  • 11
    330
    332

    Krystal

    Chattanooga, TN
    350+ locations across the Southeast
  • 12
    312
    293

    Shoney's

    Charleston, WV
    230+ locations actross the Southeast and Midwest
  • 13
    233
    174
    152+ Locations (Including Texas Land & Cattle Restaurants) in AK/AZ/AL/CA/CO/DE/FL/IA/IL/IN/KS/LA/MI/MO/MS/NC/ND/NM/OH/OK/PA/SD/TN/VA/WV 
  • 14
    214
    210
    120+ locations across the Southeast
  • 15
    208
    240

    Huddle House

    Decatur, GA
    430+ locations across the US, but mostly in the South
  • 16
    217
    219

    The Varsity

    Atlanta, GA
    8 locations in GA
  • 17
    177
    183

    Back Yard Burgers

    Cleveland, MS
    80+ locations across the Southeast, NE, and PA
  • 18
    133
    160
    50+ locations in NC and VA
  • 19
    138
    170

    Braum's

    Tuttle, OK
    280+ locations in AR, KS, MO, OK, and TX
  • 20
    131
    162
    11 locations in AR, GA, MS, TN, and TX
  • 21
    121
    160

    Corky's BBQ

    Memphis, TN
    8 locations in TN, AR, and MS
  • 22
    127
    170

    Zoe's Kitchen

    Homewood, AL
    149 locations across the South, AZ, MD, MO, NJ, and OK
  • 23
    119
    142

    Torchy's Tacos

    Austin, TX
    12 locations in TX and CO
  • 24
    97
    137
    10 Locations in LA/TX/AR/GA/FL
  • 25
    121
    182

    Jim 'N Nick's BBQ

    Birmingham, AL
    locations across the Southeast and CO