restaurants The Best Southern Restaurant Chains  

Carly Kiel
Originally by
7.8k votes 1k voters 59k views 60 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
316 142
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

2
314 143
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
252 122
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
220 115
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
200 102
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
152 90
Cook Out is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Cook Out Greensboro, NC - 150+ locations across GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, WV, and VA

7
198 134
Hardee's is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Hardee's Greenville, NC - 1,900+ locations across the Southeast and Midwest

8
157 133
Krystal is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Krystal Chattanooga, TN - 350+ locations across the Southeast

9
123 105
McAlister's Deli is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
McAlister's Deli Oxford, MS - 300+ locations across the US, but mostly in the South

10
136 119
Shoney's is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Shoney's Charleston, WV - 230+ locations actross the Southeast and Midwest

11
126 104
Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers is listed (or ranked) 11 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

12
99 89
Huddle House is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Huddle House Decatur, GA - 430+ locations across the US, but mostly in the South

13
83 69
Jason's Deli is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
zxray added Jason's Deli Beaumont, TX - 250 Locations in 29 States

14
90 86
The Varsity is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
The Varsity Atlanta, GA - 8 locations in GA

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15
60 57
Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon is listed (or ranked) 15 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 

16
80 76
Sonny's BBQ is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Sonny's BBQ 120+ locations across the Southeast

17
84 84
Back Yard Burgers is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Back Yard Burgers Cleveland, MS - 80+ locations across the Southeast, NE, and PA

18
55 67
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
58 66
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
59 70
Braum's is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Braum's Tuttle, OK - 280+ locations in AR, KS, MO, OK, and TX

21
73 97
Taco Bueno is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Taco Bueno Abilene, TX - 175+ locations across the South, CO, KS, and NM

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22
42 49
Smithfield's Chicken 'N Bar-B-... is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Smithfield's Chicken 'N Bar-B-Q Smithfield, NC - 35+ locations in NC

23
60 74
Gus's World Famous Fried Chick... is listed (or ranked) 23 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

24
43 57
Jack's is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Jack's Homewood, AL - 130+ locations across AL, GA, MI, and TN

25
44 56
Biscuitville is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Biscuitville 50+ locations in NC and VA

26
38 59
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
39 62
Taco Cabana is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
zxray added Taco Cabana San Antonio, TX - 166 Locations in TX/OK/NM

28
35 56
Dreamland Bar-B-Que is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Dreamland Bar-B-Que Tuscaloosa, AL - 8 locations in AL

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29
27 44
Cotton Patch Café is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
zxray added Cotton Patch Café Nacogdoches, TX - 41 Locations in TX/NM/OK

30
25 42
Fatz is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
zxray added Fatz Cafe Spartanburg, SC - 48 Locations in SC/NC/VA/GA/TN

31
35 53
Red Hot & Blue is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Red Hot & Blue Arlington, VA - 25+ locations in MD, MI, MO, NC, NJ, TX, and VA

32
40 61
Calhoun's is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Calhoun's Knoxville, TN - 7 locations in TN

33
32 56
Tudor's Biscuit World is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Tudor's Biscuit World Charleston, WV - locations in KY, OH, and WV

34
37 64
Taco Mac is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
maura-quast added Taco Mac 30 locations in GA, NC, and TN

35
34 60
Guthrie's is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Guthrie's Haleyville, AL - 25+ locations across AL, FL, GA, KY, OK, and TN

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36
25 46
Copeland's is listed (or ranked) 36 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

37
40 65
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
30 50
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
34 57
Milo's Hamburgers is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Milo's Hamburgers Birmingham, AL - 15 locations in Alabama

40
36 67
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
26 51
Beef O'Brady's is listed (or ranked) 41 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

42
28 57
Taco Casa is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Taco Casa Tuscaloosa, AL - 7 locations in AL

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43
5 14
Buddy's BBQ is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
jonpiez added Buddy's BBQ Knoxville TN based barbeque chain

44
27 54
Mrs. Winner's is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
maura-quast added Mrs. Winner's 11 locations in GA, NC, and TN

45
3 13
Taco Deli is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
jonpiez added Taco Deli Austin TX chain with locations accross TX.

46
29 60
Golden Chick is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Golden Chick San Marco, TX - 115 locations in SC, OK, and TX

47
17 42
Whitt's Barbecue is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Whitt's Barbecue Nashville, TN - 25 locations in KY and TN

48
17 42
Jack Pirtle's Chicken is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Jack Pirtle's Chicken Memphis, TN - 8 locations in TN

49
28 63
Burger Street is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Burger Street Lewisville, TX - 18 locations in TX and OK

50
18 46
Foosackly's is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Southern Restaurant Chains
Foosackly's Mobile, AL - 9 locations in AL