Restaurants The Best Southern Restaurant Chains  

Carly Kiel
Originally by
9.6k votes 1.3k voters 68.2k views 62 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
401 184
Cracker Barrel is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
sheila-landress added Lebanon, Tennessee, USA - 600+ locations across the US, but mostly in the South

2
388 176
Waffle House is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Avondale Estates, GA - 2,000+ locations across the US, but mostly in the South

3
279 138
Zaxby's is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Statesboro, GA - 600+ locations across the Southeast, IN, MO, OK, and UT

4
302 156
Whataburger is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Corpus Christi, TX - 700+ locations across the South, NM, and OK

5
260 127
Bojangles' Famous Chicken 'n B... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Charlotte, NC - 600+ locations across the Southeast, PA, MD, and DC

6
202 105
Cook Out is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Greensboro, NC - 150+ locations across GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, WV, and VA

7
237 163
Hardee's is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Greenville, NC - 1,900+ locations across the Southeast and Midwest

8
157 120
Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Baton Rouge, LA - 150+ locations across the US, but mostly in the South

9
143 118
McAlister's Deli is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Oxford, MS - 300+ locations across the US, but mostly in the South

10
184 160
Krystal is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Chattanooga, TN - 350+ locations across the Southeast

11
157 143
Shoney's is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Charleston, WV - 230+ locations actross the Southeast and Midwest

12
103 86
Jason's Deli is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
zxray added Beaumont, TX - 250 Locations in 29 States

13
114 99
The Varsity is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Atlanta, GA - 8 locations in GA

14
116 107
Huddle House is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Decatur, GA - 430+ locations across the US, but mostly in the South

15
98 90
Sonny's BBQ is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
120+ locations across the Southeast

16
73 69
Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
zxray added 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
96 95
Back Yard Burgers is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Cleveland, MS - 80+ locations across the Southeast, NE, and PA

18
67 74
Jim 'N Nick's BBQ is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Jim 'N Nick's BBQ Birmingham, AL - locations across the Southeast and CO

19
68 76
Corky's BBQ is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Corky's BBQ Memphis, TN - 8 locations in TN, AR, and MS

20
71 81
Braum's is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Tuttle, OK - 280+ locations in AR, KS, MO, OK, and TX

21
86 109
Taco Bueno is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Abilene, TX - 175+ locations across the South, CO, KS, and NM

22
54 59
Smithfield's Chicken 'N Bar-B-... is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Smithfield, NC - 35+ locations in NC

23
70 82
Gus's World Famous Fried Chick... is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Memphis, TN - 11 locations in AR, GA, MS, TN, and TX

24
56 68
Biscuitville is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
50+ locations in NC and VA

25
50 70
Jack's is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Homewood, AL - 130+ locations across AL, GA, MI, and TN

26
45 65
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
10 8
Milos Hamburgers is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
BHinz added Alabama hamburger chain

28
50 75
Taco Cabana is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
zxray added San Antonio, TX - 166 Locations in TX/OK/NM

29
6 4
Hooters is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
23ryanjohnston added Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

30
47 74
Luby's, Inc. is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
zxray added Luby's, Inc. San Antonio, TX - 95 Locations in TX/OK/AR/MS

31
51 74
Torchy's Tacos is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Torchy's Tacos Austin, TX - 12 locations in TX and CO

32
35 55
Fatz is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
zxray added Spartanburg, SC - 48 Locations in SC/NC/VA/GA/TN

33
48 76
Taco Mac is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
maura-quast added 30 locations in GA, NC, and TN

34
42 68
Guthrie's is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Haleyville, AL - 25+ locations across AL, FL, GA, KY, OK, and TN

35
44 65
Milo's Hamburgers is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Milo's Hamburgers Birmingham, AL - 15 locations in Alabama

36
37 61
Beef O'Brady's is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
zxray added 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

37
47 78
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
40 61
Newk's Eatery is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Newk's Eatery Oxford, MS - locations across the Southeast, KY, MD, OK, and TX

39
40 61
Red Hot & Blue is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Red Hot & Blue Arlington, VA - 25+ locations in MD, MI, MO, NC, NJ, TX, and VA

40
46 71
Calhoun's is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Calhoun's Knoxville, TN - 7 locations in TN

41
1 1
Willy's Mexicana Grill is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
jmser8 added Willy's Mexicana Grill

Atlanta, GA - 31 locations in GA

42
33 57
Copeland's is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
zxray added Metairie, LA - 10 Locations in LA/TX/AR/GA/FL

43
31 55
Cotton Patch Café is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
zxray added Nacogdoches, TX - 41 Locations in TX/NM/OK

44
35 64
Tudor's Biscuit World is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Charleston, WV - locations in KY, OH, and WV

45
32 65
Taco Casa is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Tuscaloosa, AL - 7 locations in AL

46
9 21
Mrs. Winner's is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Mrs. Winner's

47
9 22
Buddy's BBQ is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
jonpiez added Buddy's BBQ

Knoxville TN based barbeque chain

48
35 69
Golden Chick is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
San Marco, TX - 115 locations in SC, OK, and TX

49
22 50
Whitt's Barbecue is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Nashville, TN - 25 locations in KY and TN

50
33 72
Burger Street is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Lewisville, TX - 18 locations in TX and OK