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Sep 25, 2006 12:26 AM

Good Southern chains?

Somehow the chains down here are much better. I love Bojangle's and chick-fil-a, and wendy's seems fresher? There's also of course Cracker Barrel. Any others I should know about? I'm in Raleigh-Durham.

I have been getting the chicken biscuit and coleslaw from Bojangle's on Sunday mornings. Nothing better -with coffee.

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  1. I love Hardee's biscuits with butter. They also used to sell these huge chocolate chip cookies. I don't think they make them anymore. When I was a kid, we would drive down I-95 from NJ to NC to visit my grandparents, and always stopped in Quantico, VA because it had the first Hardee's southbound on 95.

    1 Reply
    1. re: maryelizabeth

      I'm no Southern but I love a good biscuit. I remember Hardees sausage biscuits from ~25 years ago fondly.
      When I travelled to Minnesota a few years ago my cousin warned me that Carl Karchner (of Carls Jr infamy) had really screwed up the Hardees chain. HE WASN'T KIDDING! My Hardees biscuit was horrible on two occasions, McD's is now much better.

      1. Hmmm....would you consider Char-Grill a chain, since there's more than one?

        Most of my co-workers like Rock-Ola, but I'm pretty feh on it.

        This may be blasphemous, but Smithfield's for barbecue. It's decent, in a pinch, and I don't want to drive all the way to Allen and Sons or find parking downtown for Clyde Cooper's.

        11 Replies
        1. re: OrganicGal

          I'll second the Smithfield's endorsement. Yes, the 'cue is cooked with gas, but it tends to be better than some wood-smoked 'cue I've had, and Smithfield's chicken is probably the best I've had from any "chain." Also, the brunswick stew and hushpuppies are pretty good.

          I'll also give a nod to Backyard Burgers, another great southern chain. They make the best chain burgers I've tried, and I give them exta points because I can get them to make me a chile-slaw burger.

          Besides Bojangles, Hardees, and Chick-Fil-A already mentioned, these southern chains also deserve recognition (for being either good or maybe just distinctive as the case may be): Crystal, Popeyes, Church's, Sonic, Waffle House, Huddle House, and of course Krispy Kreme.

          1. re: Low Country Jon

            Stopped at Huddle House at a truckstop along the 75 in Georgia. Surprisingly good! Really tasty "philly cheesesteak" grilled sandwich, light and crispy sweet potato fries, tasty Vidalia onion steak sauce and decent smoky bbq sauce (sauces can be taken home for $2.99 each). Took two biscuits and gravy on the bus. Interesting how southern gravy is white, almost like bechamel, whereas in Canada, gravy is beef or chicken brown.

            Also really enjoyed the pecan waffles at Waffle House (in Ohio).

            Shoney's (in Cordele, Georgia) has a breakfast buffet for $6.49. I enjoyed the biscuits.

            Definitely avoid Golden Corral buffet restaurant. Worst food ever. Long line-ups.

            1. re: Food Tourist

              What you have is White or Milk or Sawmill gravy. They do brown gravies as well. They also have Red Eye gravy which is something akin to an au jus made from coffee. It's very good.


              1. re: Davwud

                Red Eye gravy is not made from coffee. It is made using water and the pan drippings after frying ham. Sometimes some people (I don't) add a small amount of coffee to give the gravy a darker, richer color.

                1. re: Sister Sue

                  While Wikipedia says it's made with either water or black coffee, a quick google search showed exactly NO recipes that didn't call for black coffee.


                  1. re: Davwud

                    Red Eye gravy is indeed made with coffee.....

                    1. re: Janet from Richmond

                      When my rural northeast Mississippi and northwest Alabama family members made red eye gravy, coffee was the exception rather than the rule. It was used only for coloring the gravy. I doubt that recipe was written anywhere, but that was what was taught to me by my 90+ year-old grandmother.

                      1. re: Sister Sue

                        And in Virginia it's made with coffee and we are famous for our ham ;-)

                        1. re: Sister Sue

                          Mrs. Sippi is so named because she grew up in Nesbit (DeSoto Co.) Ms. She's never heard of REG made without coffee.

                          Near as I can tell, mixing water with pan drippings would pretty much just be au jus. If you add flour to thicken it, you have your standard gravy.


                    2. re: Sister Sue

                      I have family from Mississippi, Tennessee, N.C., Fl. & Texas - all differing branches of the family, all agree on (probably the only topic of complete agreement) : red-eye gravy made with coffee!

              2. re: OrganicGal

                I thought I didn't care for Rock-Ola until the one on Six Forks got replaced by a Chinese mega-buffet, the bane of edible Chinese food in this area. I'd love to see that Rock-Ola back now.

              3. The original comment has been removed
                1. I replied to this earlier, but I guess it was R E M O V E D and I have no idea why.
                  I said that I miss Backyard Burgers and Dixie Cafe and especially King Cotton's curiously red hot dogs.... Oh! Maybe it was the hotdogs?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: LisaAZ

                    Zaxbys is good for chicken fingers.

                    1. re: LisaAZ

                      Dixie Cafe is a pretty good chain, as chains go. Good "country" food. Fried okra, cornbread, greens, etc. Always very popular with the locals wherever they open, but pretty limited distribution, at this point. They started in Little Rock and have managed to get into a lot of the Arkansas market and they have a location in Bartlett and Memphis TN, but that's about it.