The Best Southern Restaurant Chains

Over 3.7K Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Voting 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.

Most divisive: The Varsity
Ranked by
  • Waffle House
    1,780 votes
    Avondale Estates, GA
    2,000+ locations across the US, but mostly in the South
  • Cracker Barrel
    1,868 votes
    Lebanon, Tennessee, USA
    600+ locations across the US, but mostly in the South
  • Whataburger
    1,597 votes
    Corpus Christi, TX
    700+ locations across the South, NM, and OK
  • Bojangles' Famous Chicken 'n Biscuits
    600+ locations across the Southeast, PA, MD, and DC
  • Zaxby's
    1,338 votes
    Statesboro, GA
    600+ locations across the Southeast, IN, MO, OK, and UT
  • Cook Out
    1,047 votes
    Greensboro, NC
    150+ locations across GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, WV, and VA