Restaurants The Best Southern Restaurant Chains  

Carly Kiel
Originally by
9.2k votes 1.2k voters 66.9k views 61 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
389 175
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
377 169
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
269 133
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
252 122
Bojangles' Famous Chicken 'n B... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Charlotte, NC - 600+ locations across the Southeast, PA, MD, and DC

5
291 152
Whataburger is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Corpus Christi, TX - 700+ locations across the South, NM, and OK

6
198 101
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
232 158
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
139 116
McAlister's Deli is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Oxford, MS - 300+ locations across the US, but mostly in the South

9
180 156
Krystal is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Chattanooga, TN - 350+ locations across the Southeast

10
145 118
Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Baton Rouge, LA - 150+ locations across the US, but mostly in the South

11
153 139
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
100 80
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
111 95
The Varsity is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Atlanta, GA - 8 locations in GA

14
113 103
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
96 85
Sonny's BBQ is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
120+ locations across the Southeast

16
72 66
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
93 91
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
62 72
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
66 72
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
53 55
Smithfield's Chicken 'N Bar-B-... is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Smithfield, NC - 35+ locations in NC

21
85 104
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
69 78
Braum's is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Tuttle, OK - 280+ locations in AR, KS, MO, OK, and TX

23
56 64
Biscuitville is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
50+ locations in NC and VA

24
67 80
Gus's World Famous Fried Chick... is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Memphis, TN - 11 locations in AR, GA, MS, TN, and TX

25
49 66
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
46 68
Luby's, Inc. is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
zxray added Luby's, Inc. San Antonio, TX - 95 Locations in TX/OK/AR/MS

27
7 5
Milos Hamburgers is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
BHinz added Alabama hamburger chain

28
35 52
Fatz is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
zxray added Spartanburg, SC - 48 Locations in SC/NC/VA/GA/TN

29
47 72
Taco Cabana is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
zxray added San Antonio, TX - 166 Locations in TX/OK/NM

30
47 72
Taco Mac is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
maura-quast added 30 locations in GA, NC, and TN

31
41 63
Dreamland Bar-B-Que is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Dreamland Bar-B-Que Tuscaloosa, AL - 8 locations in AL

32
43 62
Milo's Hamburgers is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Milo's Hamburgers Birmingham, AL - 15 locations in Alabama

33
40 58
Red Hot & Blue is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Red Hot & Blue Arlington, VA - 25+ locations in MD, MI, MO, NC, NJ, TX, and VA

34
40 65
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
45 68
Calhoun's is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Calhoun's Knoxville, TN - 7 locations in TN

36
35 58
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
31 52
Cotton Patch Café is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
zxray added Nacogdoches, TX - 41 Locations in TX/NM/OK

38
47 72
Torchy's Tacos is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Torchy's Tacos Austin, TX - 12 locations in TX and CO

39
31 53
Copeland's is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
zxray added Metairie, LA - 10 Locations in LA/TX/AR/GA/FL

40
45 76
Zoe's Kitchen is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Zoe's Kitchen Homewood, AL - 149 locations across the South, AZ, MD, MO, NJ, and OK

41
0 0
Hooters is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
23ryanjohnston added Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

42
37 58
Newk's Eatery is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Newk's Eatery Oxford, MS - locations across the Southeast, KY, MD, OK, and TX

43
35 61
Tudor's Biscuit World is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Charleston, WV - locations in KY, OH, and WV

44
9 19
Buddy's BBQ is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
jonpiez added Buddy's BBQ

Knoxville TN based barbeque chain

45
8 18
Mrs. Winner's is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Mrs. Winner's

46
31 63
Taco Casa is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Tuscaloosa, AL - 7 locations in AL

47
35 65
Golden Chick is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
San Marco, TX - 115 locations in SC, OK, and TX

48
21 47
Whitt's Barbecue is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Nashville, TN - 25 locations in KY and TN

49
33 69
Burger Street is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Lewisville, TX - 18 locations in TX and OK

50
20 47
Jack Pirtle's Chicken is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Jack Pirtle's Chicken Memphis, TN - 8 locations in TN