Food
2.3k voters

The Best Southern Restaurant Chains

Updated November 21, 2019 17.3k votes 2.3k voters 109.5k 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
    Waffle House
    755
    352

    Waffle House

    Avondale Estates, GA
    2,000+ locations across the US, but mostly in the South
  • 2
    Whataburger
    761
    297

    Whataburger

    Corpus Christi, TX
    700+ locations across the South, NM, and OK
  • 3
    Bojangles' Famous Chicken 'n Biscuits
    543
    256
    600+ locations across the Southeast, PA, MD, and DC
  • 4
    Cracker Barrel
    803
    399

    Cracker Barrel

    Lebanon, Tennessee
    600+ locations across the US, but mostly in the South
  • 5
    Zaxby's
    580
    313

    Zaxby's

    Statesboro, GA
    600+ locations across the Southeast, IN, MO, OK, and UT
  • 6
    Cook Out
    418
    237

    Cook Out

    Greensboro, NC
    150+ locations across GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, WV, and VA
  • 7
    Hardee's
    404
    353

    Hardee's

    Greenville, NC
    1,900+ locations across the Southeast and Midwest
  • 8
    McAlister's Deli
    303
    237
    300+ locations across the US, but mostly in the South
  • 9
    Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers
    338
    221
    150+ locations across the US, but mostly in the South
  • 10
    Jason's Deli
    255
    198

    Jason's Deli

    Beaumont, TX
    250 Locations in 29 States
  • 11
    Krystal
    311
    314

    Krystal

    Chattanooga, TN
    350+ locations across the Southeast
  • 12
    Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon
    204
    168
    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 
  • 13
    Sonny's BBQ
    206
    196
    120+ locations across the Southeast
  • 14
    Shoney's
    284
    293

    Shoney's

    Charleston, WV
    230+ locations actross the Southeast and Midwest
  • 15
    The Varsity
    212
    204

    The Varsity

    Atlanta, GA
    8 locations in GA
  • 16
    Huddle House
    199
    225

    Huddle House

    Decatur, GA
    430+ locations across the US, but mostly in the South
  • 17
    Back Yard Burgers
    178
    176

    Back Yard Burgers

    Cleveland, MS
    80+ locations across the Southeast, NE, and PA
  • 18
    Zoe's Kitchen
    121
    154

    Zoe's Kitchen

    Homewood, AL
    149 locations across the South, AZ, MD, MO, NJ, and OK
  • 19
    Biscuitville
    116
    150
    50+ locations in NC and VA
  • 20
    Braum's
    122
    161

    Braum's

    Tuttle, OK
    280+ locations in AR, KS, MO, OK, and TX
  • 21
    Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken
    119
    158
    11 locations in AR, GA, MS, TN, and TX
  • 22
    Copeland's of New Orleans
    90
    118
    10 Locations in LA/TX/AR/GA/FL
  • 23
    Jim 'N Nick's BBQ
    119
    170

    Jim 'N Nick's BBQ

    Birmingham, AL
    locations across the Southeast and CO
  • 24
    Corky's BBQ
    111
    152

    Corky's BBQ

    Memphis, TN
    8 locations in TN, AR, and MS
  • 25
    Jack's
    102
    152

    Jack's

    Homewood, AL
    130+ locations across AL, GA, MI, and TN