Restaurants The Best Southern Restaurant Chains  

Carly Kiel
Originally by
8.9k votes 1.2k voters 64.5k 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.

1
374 166
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
357 164
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
238 116
Bojangles' Famous Chicken 'n B... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Bojangles' Famous Chicken 'n Biscuits Charlotte, NC - 600+ locations across the Southeast, PA, MD, and DC

4
254 128
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
281 149
Whataburger is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Whataburger Corpus Christi, TX - 700+ locations across the South, NM, and OK

6
189 98
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
226 151
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
176 152
Krystal is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Krystal Chattanooga, TN - 350+ locations across the Southeast

9
135 115
McAlister's Deli is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
McAlister's Deli Oxford, MS - 300+ locations across the US, but mostly in the South

10
149 134
Shoney's is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Shoney's Charleston, WV - 230+ locations actross the Southeast and Midwest

11
140 116
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
107 92
The Varsity is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
The Varsity Atlanta, GA - 8 locations in GA

13
94 79
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
109 102
Huddle House is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Huddle House Decatur, GA - 430+ locations across the US, but mostly in the South

15
92 83
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
69 65
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
90 90
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
83 104
Taco Bueno is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Taco Bueno Abilene, TX - 175+ locations across the South, CO, KS, and NM

19
59 72
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
63 72
Corky's BBQ is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Corky's BBQ Memphis, TN - 8 locations in TN, AR, and MS

21
50 55
Smithfield's Chicken 'N Bar-B-... is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Smithfield's Chicken 'N Bar-B-Q Smithfield, NC - 35+ locations in NC

22
66 77
Braum's is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Braum's Tuttle, OK - 280+ locations in AR, KS, MO, OK, and TX

23
66 80
Gus's World Famous Fried Chick... is listed (or ranked) 23 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

24
53 64
Biscuitville is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Biscuitville 50+ locations in NC and VA

25
48 65
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
33 50
Fatz is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
zxray added Fatz Cafe Spartanburg, SC - 48 Locations in SC/NC/VA/GA/TN

27
46 71
Taco Cabana is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
zxray added Taco Cabana San Antonio, TX - 166 Locations in TX/OK/NM

28
43 67
Luby's, Inc. is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
zxray added Luby's, Inc. San Antonio, TX - 95 Locations in TX/OK/AR/MS

29
39 63
Dreamland Bar-B-Que is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Dreamland Bar-B-Que Tuscaloosa, AL - 8 locations in AL

30
44 71
Taco Mac is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
maura-quast added Taco Mac 30 locations in GA, NC, and TN

31
39 58
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
4 5
Milos Hamburgers is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
BHinz added Milos Hamburgers Alabama hamburger chain

33
34 58
Beef O'Brady's is listed (or ranked) 33 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

34
43 67
Calhoun's is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Calhoun's Knoxville, TN - 7 locations in TN

35
30 52
Cotton Patch Café is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
zxray added Cotton Patch Café Nacogdoches, TX - 41 Locations in TX/NM/OK

36
46 72
Torchy's Tacos is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Torchy's Tacos Austin, TX - 12 locations in TX and CO

37
43 74
Zoe's Kitchen is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Zoe's Kitchen Homewood, AL - 149 locations across the South, AZ, MD, MO, NJ, and OK

38
39 62
Milo's Hamburgers is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Milo's Hamburgers Birmingham, AL - 15 locations in Alabama

39
37 65
Guthrie's is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Guthrie's Haleyville, AL - 25+ locations across AL, FL, GA, KY, OK, and TN

40
34 61
Tudor's Biscuit World is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Tudor's Biscuit World Charleston, WV - locations in KY, OH, and WV

41
35 57
Newk's Eatery is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Newk's Eatery Oxford, MS - locations across the Southeast, KY, MD, OK, and TX

42
29 53
Copeland's is listed (or ranked) 42 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

43
30 63
Taco Casa is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Taco Casa Tuscaloosa, AL - 7 locations in AL

44
7 19
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
6 18
Mrs. Winner's is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Mrs. Winner's

46
33 65
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
20 47
Whitt's Barbecue is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Whitt's Barbecue Nashville, TN - 25 locations in KY and TN

48
32 69
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
19 47
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
23 55
Taziki's is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Taziki's 50+ locations across the Southeas, CO, and OK