NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Restaurant stocks were a hot topic on Wall Street this week as private equity buyouts circulated -- and were then confirmed -- surrounding Burger King Holdings ( BKC).

Sonic ( SONC), Wendy's Arby's Group ( WEN - Get Report), Jack in the Box ( JACK), California Pizza Kitchen ( CPKI) and Chili's operator Brinker International ( EAT) have also been tapped as potential restaurant stocks that may be targets for private-equity buyouts, helping to push their share prices higher in trading Thursday.

>>Burger King Agrees to Buyout

Burger King shares surged 25% to close at $23.58 on more than 42 times their average trading volume.

Stifel Nicolaus analyst Steve West told TheStreet now is the time to sell Burger King shares, on the view that the stock is unlikely to rise much higher. Some arbitration shops may still make some money on the stock, potentially filing suits arguing for a higher-priced deal, but "I don't think any more upside will be material," he said.

>>Bankruptcy Watch: 20 Riskiest Restaurant Stocks

At this point it's a little too late in the game for investors to make much hay from Burger King shares. Instead, West tapped Panera Bread ( PNRA) as his top pick in the restaurant sector, followed by sector darling Chipotle Mexican Grill ( CMG - Get Report), as stocks savvy investors should look to now.

West also had a buy rating on industry behemoth McDonald's ( MCD - Get Report), arch rival to Burger King.

Hedge fund 3G will pay $24 in cash for each share of Burger King, a 45.9% premium to the Whopper-and-fries chain's closing price on Tuesday, before rumors of the buyout began circulating on Wall Street.

Restaurant stocks soared on Thursday, with Burger King clearly outpacing the sector.

>> Restaurant Winners: Burger King

DineEquity ( DIN), operator of IHOP and Applebee's restaurants, closed up by 11.1% while Brinker added 9.1%.

Biglari Holdings ( BH), a holding company that recently more than doubled quarterly profits thanks to a stronger performance at its Steak n Shake restaurants and to its acquisition of Western Sizzlin, jumped 7.1%.

-- Written by Miriam Marcus Reimer in New York.

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