restaurants The Best Southern Restaurant Chains  

Carly Kiel
Originally by
8.2k votes 1.1k voters 60.6k views 60 items

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
328 150
Cracker Barrel is listed (or ranked) 1 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

2
330 148
Waffle House is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Waffle House Avondale Estates, GA - 2,000+ locations across the US, but mostly in the South

3
256 130
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
211 106
Bojangles' Famous Chicken 'n B... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Bojangles' Famous Chicken 'n Biscuits Charlotte, NC - 600+ locations across the Southeast, PA, MD, and DC

5
226 122
Zaxby's is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Zaxby's Statesboro, GA - 600+ locations across the Southeast, IN, MO, OK, and UT

6
164 93
Cook Out is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Cook Out Greensboro, NC - 150+ locations across GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, WV, and VA

7
208 137
Hardee's is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Hardee's Greenville, NC - 1,900+ locations across the Southeast and Midwest

8
164 140
Krystal is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Krystal Chattanooga, TN - 350+ locations across the Southeast

9
142 123
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
127 110
McAlister's Deli is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
McAlister's Deli Oxford, MS - 300+ locations across the US, but mostly in the South

11
127 109
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
102 95
Huddle House is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Huddle House Decatur, GA - 430+ locations across the US, but mostly in the South

13
85 73
Jason's Deli is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
zxray added Jason's Deli Beaumont, TX - 250 Locations in 29 States

14
95 87
The Varsity is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
The Varsity Atlanta, GA - 8 locations in GA

Chipotle Secret Menu Items

15
87 77
Sonny's BBQ is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Sonny's BBQ 120+ locations across the Southeast

16
63 59
Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon is listed (or ranked) 16 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 

17
86 87
Back Yard Burgers is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Back Yard Burgers Cleveland, MS - 80+ locations across the Southeast, NE, and PA

18
61 68
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
57 69
Jim 'N Nick's BBQ is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Jim 'N Nick's BBQ Birmingham, AL - locations across the Southeast and CO

20
77 101
Taco Bueno is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Taco Bueno Abilene, TX - 175+ locations across the South, CO, KS, and NM

21
61 74
Braum's is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Braum's Tuttle, OK - 280+ locations in AR, KS, MO, OK, and TX

The Very Best Coconut Water Brands

22
45 53
Smithfield's Chicken 'N Bar-B-... is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Smithfield's Chicken 'N Bar-B-Q Smithfield, NC - 35+ locations in NC

23
49 59
Biscuitville is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Biscuitville 50+ locations in NC and VA

24
61 77
Gus's World Famous Fried Chick... is listed (or ranked) 24 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

25
45 61
Jack's is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Jack's Homewood, AL - 130+ locations across AL, GA, MI, and TN

26
36 59
Dreamland Bar-B-Que is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Dreamland Bar-B-Que Tuscaloosa, AL - 8 locations in AL

27
28 46
Fatz is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
zxray added Fatz Cafe Spartanburg, SC - 48 Locations in SC/NC/VA/GA/TN

28
40 66
Taco Cabana is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
zxray added Taco Cabana San Antonio, TX - 166 Locations in TX/OK/NM

KFC Secret Menu Items

29
38 63
Luby's, Inc. is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
zxray added Luby's, Inc. San Antonio, TX - 95 Locations in TX/OK/AR/MS

30
42 64
Calhoun's is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Calhoun's Knoxville, TN - 7 locations in TN

31
28 48
Cotton Patch Café is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
zxray added Cotton Patch Café Nacogdoches, TX - 41 Locations in TX/NM/OK

32
39 67
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
33 59
Tudor's Biscuit World is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Tudor's Biscuit World Charleston, WV - locations in KY, OH, and WV

34
35 63
Guthrie's is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Guthrie's Haleyville, AL - 25+ locations across AL, FL, GA, KY, OK, and TN

35
35 57
Red Hot & Blue is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Red Hot & Blue Arlington, VA - 25+ locations in MD, MI, MO, NC, NJ, TX, and VA

The Most Annoying Corporate Buzzwords

36
32 53
Newk's Eatery is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Newk's Eatery Oxford, MS - locations across the Southeast, KY, MD, OK, and TX

37
1 3
Milos Hamburgers is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
BHinz added Milos Hamburgers Alabama hamburger chain

38
38 70
Zoe's Kitchen is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Zoe's Kitchen Homewood, AL - 149 locations across the South, AZ, MD, MO, NJ, and OK

39
41 69
Torchy's Tacos is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Torchy's Tacos Austin, TX - 12 locations in TX and CO

40
35 61
Milo's Hamburgers is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Milo's Hamburgers Birmingham, AL - 15 locations in Alabama

41
25 51
Copeland's is listed (or ranked) 41 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

42
27 55
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

Dairy Queen Secret Menu Items

43
28 61
Taco Casa is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Taco Casa Tuscaloosa, AL - 7 locations in AL

44
5 18
Buddy's BBQ is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
jonpiez added Buddy's BBQ Knoxville TN based barbeque chain

45
29 64
Golden Chick is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Golden Chick San Marco, TX - 115 locations in SC, OK, and TX

46
18 46
Whitt's Barbecue is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Whitt's Barbecue Nashville, TN - 25 locations in KY and TN

47
29 67
Burger Street is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Burger Street Lewisville, TX - 18 locations in TX and OK

48
3 15
Mrs. Winner's is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Mrs. Winner's

49
17 46
Jack Pirtle's Chicken is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Jack Pirtle's Chicken Memphis, TN - 8 locations in TN

50
18 50
Foosackly's is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Foosackly's Mobile, AL - 9 locations in AL