Food
2.6k voters

The Best Southern Restaurant Chains

Updated November 21, 2019 19.4k votes 2.6k voters 121.8k 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
    840
    387

    Waffle House

    Avondale Estates, GA
    2,000+ locations across the US, but mostly in the South
  • 2
    825
    322

    Whataburger

    Corpus Christi, TX
    700+ locations across the South, NM, and OK
  • 3
    888
    395
    sheila-landress added

    Cracker Barrel

    Lebanon, Tennessee
    600+ locations across the US, but mostly in the South
  • 4
    600+ locations across the Southeast, PA, MD, and DC
  • 5
    610
    340

    Zaxby's

    Statesboro, GA
    600+ locations across the Southeast, IN, MO, OK, and UT
  • 6
    463
    264

    Cook Out

    Greensboro, NC
    150+ locations across GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, WV, and VA
  • 7
    448
    387

    Hardee's

    Greenville, NC
    1,900+ locations across the Southeast and Midwest
  • 8
    384
    247
    150+ locations across the US, but mostly in the South
  • 9
    344
    353

    Krystal

    Chattanooga, TN
    350+ locations across the Southeast
  • 10
    248
    185
    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 
  • 11
    332
    268
    300+ locations across the US, but mostly in the South
  • 12
    325
    305

    Shoney's

    Charleston, WV
    230+ locations actross the Southeast and Midwest
  • 13
    286
    231
    zxray added

    Jason's Deli

    Beaumont, TX
    250 Locations in 29 States
  • 14
    120+ locations across the Southeast
  • 15
    219
    263

    Huddle House

    Decatur, GA
    430+ locations across the US, but mostly in the South
  • 16
    229
    235

    The Varsity

    Atlanta, GA
    8 locations in GA
  • 17
    189
    194

    Back Yard Burgers

    Cleveland, MS
    80+ locations across the Southeast, NE, and PA
  • 18
    154
    185

    Braum's

    Tuttle, OK
    280+ locations in AR, KS, MO, OK, and TX
  • 19
    50+ locations in NC and VA
  • 20
    11 locations in AR, GA, MS, TN, and TX
  • 21
    133
    154

    Torchy's Tacos

    Austin, TX
    12 locations in TX and CO
  • 22
    109
    145
    zxray added

    Copeland's of New Orleans

    Metairie, LA
    10 Locations in LA/TX/AR/GA/FL
  • 23
    116
    173

    Jack's

    Homewood, AL
    130+ locations across AL, GA, MI, and TN
  • 24
    136
    182

    Zoe's Kitchen

    Homewood, AL
    149 locations across the South, AZ, MD, MO, NJ, and OK
  • 25
    124
    176

    Corky's BBQ

    Memphis, TN
    8 locations in TN, AR, and MS