The Best Southern Restaurant Chains

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.

Photo:
Ranked by
  • Cracker Barrel
    1
    Lebanon, Tennessee, USA
    600+ locations across the US, but mostly in the South
  • Whataburger
    2
    Corpus Christi, TX
    700+ locations across the South, NM, and OK
  • Waffle House
    3
    Avondale Estates, GA
    2,000+ locations across the US, but mostly in the South
  • 600+ locations across the Southeast, PA, MD, and DC
  • Zaxby's
    5
    Statesboro, GA
    600+ locations across the Southeast, IN, MO, OK, and UT
  • Cook Out
    6
    Greensboro, NC
    150+ locations across GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, WV, and VA
  • Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers
    7
    150+ locations across the US, but mostly in the South
  • McAlister's Deli
    8
    300+ locations across the US, but mostly in the South
  • Hardee's
    9
    Greenville, NC
    1,900+ locations across the Southeast and Midwest
  • Jason's Deli
    10
    Beaumont, TX
    250 Locations in 29 States
  • Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon
    11
    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 
  • Shoney's
    12
    Charleston, WV
    230+ locations actross the Southeast and Midwest
  • Krystal
    13
    Chattanooga, TN
    350+ locations across the Southeast
  • Sonny's BBQ
    14
    120+ locations across the Southeast
  • The Varsity
    15
    Atlanta, GA
    8 locations in GA
  • Back Yard Burgers
    16
    Cleveland, MS
    80+ locations across the Southeast, NE, and PA
  • Braum's
    17
    Tuttle, OK
    280+ locations in AR, KS, MO, OK, and TX
  • Huddle House
    18
    Decatur, GA
    430+ locations across the US, but mostly in the South
  • Torchy's Tacos
    19

    Torchy's Tacos

    Austin, TX
    12 locations in TX and CO
  • Zoe's Kitchen
    20
    Homewood, AL
    149 locations across the South, AZ, MD, MO, NJ, and OK
  • Biscuitville
    21
    50+ locations in NC and VA
  • Jack's
    22
    Homewood, AL
    130+ locations across AL, GA, MI, and TN
  • Newk's Eatery
    23

    Newk's Eatery

    Oxford, MS
    locations across the Southeast, KY, MD, OK, and TX
  • Taco Cabana
    24
    San Antonio, TX
    166 Locations in TX/OK/NM
  • Corky's BBQ
    25

    Corky's BBQ

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