companies The Best Southern Restaurant Chains  

Carly Kiel
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List Rules Vote 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.
list ordered by

1
277 115
Waffle House is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Waffle House Avondale Estates, GA - 2,000+ locations across the US, but mostly in the South

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2
266 112
Cracker Barrel is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
sheila-landress added Cracker Barrel Lebanon, Tennessee, USA - 600+ locations across the US, but mostly in the South

3
218 104
Whataburger is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Whataburger Corpus Christi, TX - 700+ locations across the South, NM, and OK

4
184 99
Zaxby's is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Zaxby's Statesboro, GA - 600+ locations across the Southeast, IN, MO, OK, and UT

5
166 86
Bojangles' Famous Chicken 'n B... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Bojangles' Famous Chicken 'n Biscuits Charlotte, NC - 600+ locations across the Southeast, PA, MD, and DC

6
170 109
Hardee's is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Hardee's Greenville, NC - 1,900+ locations across the Southeast and Midwest

7
119 76
Cook Out is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Cook Out Greensboro, NC - 150+ locations across GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, WV, and VA

8
138 106
Krystal is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Krystal Chattanooga, TN - 350+ locations across the Southeast

9
115 97
Shoney's is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Shoney's Charleston, WV - 230+ locations actross the Southeast and Midwest

10
69 50
Jason's Deli is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
zxray added Jason's Deli Beaumont, TX - 250 Locations in 29 States

11
112 89
Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers Baton Rouge, LA - 150+ locations across the US, but mostly in the South

12
98 88
McAlister's Deli is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
McAlister's Deli Oxford, MS - 300+ locations across the US, but mostly in the South

13
81 73
Huddle House is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Huddle House Decatur, GA - 430+ locations across the US, but mostly in the South

14
49 39
Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
zxray added Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon Winston-Salem, NC - 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 

15
76 71
The Varsity is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
The Varsity Atlanta, GA - 8 locations in GA

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16
75 68
Back Yard Burgers is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Back Yard Burgers Cleveland, MS - 80+ locations across the Southeast, NE, and PA

17
64 61
Sonny's BBQ is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Sonny's BBQ 120+ locations across the Southeast

18
49 51
Corky's BBQ is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Corky's BBQ Memphis, TN - 8 locations in TN, AR, and MS

19
66 80
Taco Bueno is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Taco Bueno Abilene, TX - 175+ locations across the South, CO, KS, and NM

20
52 60
Gus's World Famous Fried Chick... is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken Memphis, TN - 11 locations in AR, GA, MS, TN, and TX

21
44 56
Jim 'N Nick's BBQ is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Jim 'N Nick's BBQ Birmingham, AL - locations across the Southeast and CO

22
33 42
Luby's, Inc. is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
zxray added Luby's, Inc. San Antonio, TX - 95 Locations in TX/OK/AR/MS

23
46 56
Braum's is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Braum's Tuttle, OK - 280+ locations in AR, KS, MO, OK, and TX

24
33 39
Smithfield's Chicken 'N Bar-B-... is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Smithfield's Chicken 'N Bar-B-Q Smithfield, NC - 35+ locations in NC

25
34 46
Taco Cabana is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
zxray added Taco Cabana San Antonio, TX - 166 Locations in TX/OK/NM

26
36 45
Biscuitville is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Biscuitville 50+ locations in NC and VA

27
22 32
Cotton Patch Café is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
zxray added Cotton Patch Café Nacogdoches, TX - 41 Locations in TX/NM/OK

28
1 0
P. Terry's is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
jonpiez added P. Terry's Austin TX area hamburger chain. Features retro decor.

29
1 0
Taco Deli is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
jonpiez added Taco Deli Austin TX chain with locations accross TX.

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30
1 0
Buddy's BBQ is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
jonpiez added Buddy's BBQ Knoxville TN based barbeque chain

31
28 40
Red Hot & Blue is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Red Hot & Blue Arlington, VA - 25+ locations in MD, MI, MO, NC, NJ, TX, and VA

32
32 50
Taco Mac is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
maura-quast added Taco Mac 30 locations in GA, NC, and TN

33
25 40
Mrs. Winner's is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
maura-quast added Mrs. Winner's 11 locations in GA, NC, and TN

34
27 44
Tudor's Biscuit World is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Tudor's Biscuit World Charleston, WV - locations in KY, OH, and WV

35
0 0
Petro's Chili & Chips is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
jonpiez added Petro's Chili & Chips

36
32 48
Calhoun's is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Calhoun's Knoxville, TN - 7 locations in TN

37
29 48
Jack's is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Jack's Homewood, AL - 130+ locations across AL, GA, MI, and TN

38
25 42
Dreamland Bar-B-Que is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Dreamland Bar-B-Que Tuscaloosa, AL - 8 locations in AL

39
25 41
Newk's Eatery is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Newk's Eatery Oxford, MS - locations across the Southeast, KY, MD, OK, and TX

40
18 34
Copeland's is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
zxray added Copeland's of New Orleans Metairie, LA - 10 Locations in LA/TX/AR/GA/FL

41
32 52
Torchy's Tacos is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Torchy's Tacos Austin, TX - 12 locations in TX and CO

42
20 39
Beef O'Brady's is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
zxray added Beef O'Brady's Brandon, FL - 234 Locations in AL/AR/FL/GA/IL/IN/KY/MD/MI/MN/MO/MS/MT/NC/OH/SC/TN/TX/VA/WI

43
15 31
Fatz is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
zxray added Fatz Cafe Spartanburg, SC - 48 Locations in SC/NC/VA/GA/TN

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44
25 48
Guthrie's is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Guthrie's Haleyville, AL - 25+ locations across AL, FL, GA, KY, OK, and TN

45
28 53
Zoe's Kitchen is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Zoe's Kitchen Homewood, AL - 149 locations across the South, AZ, MD, MO, NJ, and OK

46
27 48
Golden Chick is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Golden Chick San Marco, TX - 115 locations in SC, OK, and TX

47
11 26
Jim's Restaurants is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
zxray added Jim's Restaurants San Antonio, TX - 19 Locations in TX

48
28 51
Burger Street is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Burger Street Lewisville, TX - 18 locations in TX and OK

49
22 46
Taco Casa is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Taco Casa Tuscaloosa, AL - 7 locations in AL

50
17 34
Frenchy's Chicken is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Frenchy's Chicken Houston, TX - 30+ locations in TX