Embark on a delectable journey through the heart and soul of Southern cuisine with the finest fast food chains the region has to offer. From crispy fried chicken that’s been perfected over generations to mouthwatering biscuits that melt in your mouth, these Southern gems redefine fast food with their irresistible flavors and timeless comfort. Indulge in the rich traditions and unmistakable tastes that have made these spots beloved icons of Southern culinary heritage. Our list of the best Southern fast food chains might make some readers wish that they would go nation-wide.
Down south, the cuisine is unrivaled with homestyle flavor and and unique sides. Picture this: sinking your teeth into a perfectly seasoned and crispy piece of fried chicken, its outer layer boasting a golden hue and irresistible crunch, while the meat remains tender and succulent. Pair this with a side of buttery, flaky biscuits that practically melt in your mouth, oozing with warmth and a touch of sweetness. And don’t forget the velvety macaroni and cheese, rich with creamy goodness and a dash of Southern nostalgia. These Southern fast food classics capture the essence of comfort food with every delicious bite, offering a symphony of tastes that pay homage to the region’s cherished culinary traditions.
Now that your mouth is surely watering, a trip to one of these beloved restaurants may be needed. Our sources helped us find the top five best Southern fast food chains. Let us know your favorite to-go spots in the comments below!
The List: Best Southern Fast Food Chains, According to Foodies
Folks from North Carolina and Virginia will attest, Biscuitville is a tasty breakfast and lunchtime stop. Their claim to fame is dedication to quality so that every customer gets the freshest biscuit possible. Taste of Home rates them as number one. Why? “No matter what time you stop in at Biscuitville, you’re sure to get a fresh-baked biscuit—this family-owned chain makes a new batch every 15 minutes! Be sure to get there by 2 p.m., though: this is just a breakfast and lunch joint.”
Eat This, Not That! also adds, “As you may have expected, this fast food establishment has proven itself by perfecting one staple item—biscuits. If you’re ever in need, run as fast as you can to Biscuitville, where you’ll find any and all your sandwich favorites made in between a moist and fluffy honey biscuit. The spot is also praised for its untouchable fast-food breakfast items… the bacon is juicy and the thick gravy is everything you could’ve ever wished for in a Southern breakfast.”
“There are over 65 Biscuitville locations in Virginia and South Carolina. The first Biscuitville was opened by Maurice Jennings in Burlington, North Carolina, in 1966 under the name ‘Mountainbrook Fresh Bread & Milk.’ In 1967, Jennings changed the restaurant’s name to ‘Pizzaville’ and its specialty to pizzas. In addition to pizza, Pizzaville also sold freshly baked biscuits made using a Jennings family recipe. Pizzaville’s biscuits quickly became more popular than their pizzas, and the Biscuitville we know and love was born,” writes ShopFood.com.
In Texas, the burgers are good, and Whataburger aims to lead the pack. Famous for always-open service and tasty food, many burger afficionados wish they would expand operations to all parts of the nation. It’s a Southern Thing states, “When we think of Texas, we think of George Strait, Buc-ees, H-E-B and Whataburger. The burger chain has expanded way beyond the Lone Star State (thank goodness), but the first Whataburger was opened in 1950 in Corpus Christi by Harmon Dobson… And have we mentioned the honey butter biscuit? Because the honey butter biscuit deserves a spot in the Louvre.”
— Whataburger® (@Whataburger) June 1, 2023
Wide Open Country raves, “Whataburger is more than a Texas-born restaurant chain; it is a lifestyle. Whether you love the secret menu, photoshoots of babies covered in Spicy Ketchup, or the tray liner meant to trick you into thinking it’s a fallen fry that everyone falls for, there’s no denying that in 1950, the fast food game changed forever.”
Whimsy & Spice praises, “Whataburger is a burger fast-food restaurant that has locations in Alabama, Texas, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. One of the best things about Whataburger, aside from the giant burgers that inspired the name, is the fact that it is open 24 hours a day. That means that you can get your fix of Southern fast food whenever the feeling takes you.”
Zaxby’s differentiates themselves from other chicken chains with distinctively tasty chicken. They offer some of the best fried chicken in the south. “I’ve never had anything close to their crunchy and perfectly seasoned chicken. Their salad is mind-blowing. So, I can confidently vouch for Zaxby’s that no matter what you order from their menu, the chances are high that you will love it. Their customer service is amazing too. I was in and out within a few minutes, so you can rest assured of their speediness,” according to Restaurant Clicks.
A reviewer from Insider claims, “Zaxby’s was a go-to stop during my time in North Carolina for one of its famous wings. Not only does this Southern spot offer Buffalo wings that will tickle your taste buds, but they also have a number of delicious sides, sandwiches, and chicken fingers that will have you coming back for more.”
“Zach McLeroy and Tony Townley were best friends in Statesboro, Georgia, playing basketball one day and complaining about the fried chicken options available in the small college town. They came up with the concept of Zaxby’s as a solution, and in 1990, with a sale of a drum set and a few credit cards, launched the business. Today, Zaxby’s has over 900 restaurants serving Fingerz, Zalads, and their signature sandwich with a side of the incomparable Zax Sauce,” posits Southern Living.
Jack’s is another great example of fantastic southern to-go food. Although the menu features American drive-through standards like burgers and fries, their unique approach makes their food top rated. Thrillist opines, “A burger chain that doesn’t pull any punches—this is a classic cheeseburger, and the recipe probably hasn’t changed since it was served up at the original, walk-up counter in Birmingham back in 1960. In other words, it’s a welcome reminder of why a simple burger is always awesome. Get the Big Jack, the signature with lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickle. It’s one of life’s simple pleasures, as is the crispy fried chicken, served with mashed potatoes, green beans, and a killer biscuit, as southern law dictates.”
RT for original. Quote for cheesy. Heart for spicy.
— Jack's (@eatatjacks) November 22, 2021
Taste of Home also states, “Sometimes the simplest food tastes the best. Case in point: Jack’s. Originally a hamburger joint, this spot now serves handmade Southern standards, from biscuits and gravy for breakfast to a killer fried chicken sandwich for any time of day.”
Another source expands on Jack’s delicious menu options, “No Southern fast-food restaurant is without the Southern staples that we know and love. At Jack’s, you can pick up a classic buttered biscuit, creamy mac and cheese, and mashed potatoes with gravy. If it is a sweet treat that you are looking for, Jack’s serves up a piping hot Southern apple pie,” states Whimsy & Spice.
Bojangles’ is a favorite stop among many chicken enthusiasts. In a part of the country where fried chicken is everywhere, Bojangles’ rises to the top with delicious menu items. Eat This, Not That! rates them as number one, “If you’re ever in the mood for a fast home-cooked-style meal and you’re in Maryland, Florida, or (almost) anywhere in between, take a drive to Bojangles’ Famous Chicken ‘n Biscuits. This Southern establishment sells fast and crispy cajun-seasoned fried chicken and traditional buttery biscuits.”
It’s called science 👨🔬 Download our app and order the NEW Bo’s BBQ Chicken Sandwich… You know you want to. pic.twitter.com/3mjqoKtlZj
— Bojangles (@Bojangles) July 13, 2023
“That Bojangles—the biggest chain on this list—started in Charlotte should already instill confidence in their chicken, but this is a joint that does its diligence… Go all in and grab a 12-piece & six biscuit box—those buttermilk biscuits do a damn good job complementing the chicken‘s grease and spice. Bo’s is also famous for its seductively sweet tea and all-day breakfast service—so you can snag a Cajun Filet Biscuit to ease hangover pains whenever you decide to wake up,” gushes Thrillist.
“The range of fixin’s that you can choose from is extensive, and the fact that they are called fixin’s instead of sides lets you know that you are definitely in the South. Aside from the biscuits, fried chicken, and the use of the word Fixin’s, it is the drinks menu that really sets Bojangles apart from the rest of the Southern fast-food restaurants. Not only do they have some of the best sweet tea in the country, but they also serve an exclusive Mountain Dew Southern Shock beverage,” exclaims Whimsy & Spice.
You might also be interested in:
- Best Chicken Wing Recipes
- Best Chicken Fingers
- Best Fast Food Fried Chicken
- Best Fast Food Chicken Nuggets
- Taste of Home
- Eat This, Not That!
- It’s a Southern Thing
- Wide Open Country
- Whimsy & Spice
- Restaurant Clicks
- Southern Living
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.