companies The Best Southern Restaurant Chains  

Carly Kiel
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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
258 107
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

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2
270 111
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
210 100
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
178 94
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
156 84
Bojangles' Famous Chicken 'n B... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Bojangles' Famous Chicken 'n Biscuits Charlotte, NC - 600+ locations across the Southeast, PA, MD, and DC

6
167 105
Hardee's is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Hardee's Greenville, NC - 1,900+ locations across the Southeast and Midwest

7
111 73
Cook Out is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Cook Out Greensboro, NC - 150+ locations across GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, WV, and VA

8
133 102
Krystal is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Krystal Chattanooga, TN - 350+ locations across the Southeast

9
112 91
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
110 87
Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers is listed (or ranked) 10 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

11
64 47
Jason's Deli is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
zxray added Jason's Deli Beaumont, TX - 250 Locations in 29 States

12
96 85
McAlister's Deli is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
McAlister's Deli Oxford, MS - 300+ locations across the US, but mostly in the South

13
79 71
Huddle House is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Huddle House Decatur, GA - 430+ locations across the US, but mostly in the South

14
48 37
Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon is listed (or ranked) 14 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 

15
73 68
The Varsity is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
The Varsity Atlanta, GA - 8 locations in GA

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16
74 67
Back Yard Burgers is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Back Yard Burgers Cleveland, MS - 80+ locations across the Southeast, NE, and PA

17
63 59
Sonny's BBQ is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Sonny's BBQ 120+ locations across the Southeast

18
48 50
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
65 78
Taco Bueno is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Taco Bueno Abilene, TX - 175+ locations across the South, CO, KS, and NM

20
32 39
Luby's, Inc. is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
zxray added Luby's, Inc. San Antonio, TX - 95 Locations in TX/OK/AR/MS

21
42 54
Jim 'N Nick's BBQ is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Jim 'N Nick's BBQ Birmingham, AL - locations across the Southeast and CO

22
48 59
Gus's World Famous Fried Chick... is listed (or ranked) 22 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

23
32 38
Smithfield's Chicken 'N Bar-B-... is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Smithfield's Chicken 'N Bar-B-Q Smithfield, NC - 35+ locations in NC

24
33 44
Taco Cabana is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
zxray added Taco Cabana San Antonio, TX - 166 Locations in TX/OK/NM

25
44 56
Braum's is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Braum's Tuttle, OK - 280+ locations in AR, KS, MO, OK, and TX

26
35 45
Biscuitville is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Biscuitville 50+ locations in NC and VA

27
21 32
Cotton Patch Café is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
zxray added Cotton Patch Café Nacogdoches, TX - 41 Locations in TX/NM/OK

28
28 39
Red Hot & Blue is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Red Hot & Blue Arlington, VA - 25+ locations in MD, MI, MO, NC, NJ, TX, and VA

29
25 39
Mrs. Winner's is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
maura-quast added Mrs. Winner's 11 locations in GA, NC, and TN

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30
31 48
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
28 47
Jack's is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Jack's Homewood, AL - 130+ locations across AL, GA, MI, and TN

32
26 44
Tudor's Biscuit World is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Tudor's Biscuit World Charleston, WV - locations in KY, OH, and WV

33
18 32
Copeland's is listed (or ranked) 33 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

34
23 41
Dreamland Bar-B-Que is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Dreamland Bar-B-Que Tuscaloosa, AL - 8 locations in AL

35
29 47
Calhoun's is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Calhoun's Knoxville, TN - 7 locations in TN

36
24 40
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
31 51
Torchy's Tacos is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Torchy's Tacos Austin, TX - 12 locations in TX and CO

38
25 46
Guthrie's is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Guthrie's Haleyville, AL - 25+ locations across AL, FL, GA, KY, OK, and TN

39
11 25
Jim's Restaurants is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
zxray added Jim's Restaurants San Antonio, TX - 19 Locations in TX

40
19 38
Beef O'Brady's is listed (or ranked) 40 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

41
27 47
Golden Chick is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Golden Chick San Marco, TX - 115 locations in SC, OK, and TX

42
26 51
Zoe's Kitchen is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Zoe's Kitchen Homewood, AL - 149 locations across the South, AZ, MD, MO, NJ, and OK

43
22 45
Taco Casa is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Taco Casa Tuscaloosa, AL - 7 locations in AL

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44
17 33
Frenchy's Chicken is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Frenchy's Chicken Houston, TX - 30+ locations in TX

45
12 29
Fatz is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
zxray added Fatz Cafe Spartanburg, SC - 48 Locations in SC/NC/VA/GA/TN

46
27 50
Burger Street is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Burger Street Lewisville, TX - 18 locations in TX and OK

47
14 31
Jack Pirtle's Chicken is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Jack Pirtle's Chicken Memphis, TN - 8 locations in TN

48
15 33
Whitt's Barbecue is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Whitt's Barbecue Nashville, TN - 25 locations in KY and TN

49
21 43
Milo's Hamburgers is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Milo's Hamburgers Birmingham, AL - 15 locations in Alabama

50
7 23
Bush's Chicken is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
zxray added Bush's Chicken Waco, TX - 60 Locations in TX