It’s clear that seasonal deals (and especially gift card offers) are ramping up at chain restaurants this holiday season. You usually don’t have to go to the ends of the earth to find a yummy half-off appetizer, either.
Most mid-sized towns or cities have tons of best-bang-for-your buck restaurant chains.
Who wants to break the bank this time of the year, anyway?
Luckily, it’s easy to keep the dining-out spending to a minimum. If you need a stocking stuffer for someone, you might just be able to kill two birds with one stone, as lots of restaurants are offering gift cards this time of year.
We’ve done the hard work for you by compiling a huge list of chain restaurants that offer holiday deals—and the list includes specials that will last far beyond the holidays, too.
Scroll down, find a favorite, and enjoy.
1. Olive Garden
If you can possibly do it, take some time to look past unlimited soup, salad and at Olive Garden, because there are actually some other delectable offers available.
Olive Garden features delicious Lunch Duos, where you can pair one item with a house salad. Starting at $6.99, it’s really a bargain. If you’re really interested in indulging, there are $7.99 or $8.99 Duos, too.
If you’re a real Olive Garden aficionado, you can join Olive Garden’s eClub and be the first to hear about specials and deals—plus, by signing up, you can get a free appetizer or dessert with two adult entrees.
2. Buffalo Wild Wings
This is a fun one. If you order from the Buffalo Wild Wings’ Fast Break lunch menu and your lunch isn’t delivered to your table in 15 minutes or less, your next lunch is free.
Maybe it’s even possible to try to time your entrance when Buffalo Wild Wings is really busy so you have a better chance of getting a free lunch the next time around.
The fine print: It’s only valid at participating locations for a limited time, Monday-Friday from 11-2 and is for parties of six or less.
3. PF Chang’s
Drop by PF Chang’s Monday-Friday (who says you can’t go every day?) and enjoy food and drink options for $6 or less from 3-6 p.m.
If you take a look at the menu, it’s a guaranteed to trigger your interest. The first item on there is an Asian pear mojito—how delicious does that sound? And best of all, it won’t break the bank at $6. Note that pricing and availability may vary by location.
Speaking of happy hour, if you’re more in the mood for non-Asian fare, go no further than Chili’s Grill and Bar.
Food specials at participating locations include $3 chips and salsa or fried pickles, to $6 boneless or smoked wings, and right in the middle, cost-wise, are $5 white spinach queso and southwestern egg rolls.
No matter what you choose, there are several bargains guaranteed to make your happy hour happy.
Applebee’s offers a 2 for $20 option, and it’s just like it sounds: two entrees plus one appetizer equals $20. You can choose from a few specified appetizers and then two full-size entrees as well. Pricing and item availability may vary by location, by the way.
In addition, Applebee’s is now promoting another deal to encourage customers to order online: “Get $10 off your online or mobile app order over $30” and use coupon code TOGO10 at checkout.
Here’s another small savings: If you’re a first-time Carside To Go customer, you can get $5 off for the first time you use the service. Best of all, you don’t even have to get out of your car to pick up your order.
Two more: Late night ½ price apps are also available (they’re a majorly popular option among the college students in my town). The other recent favorite are the Dollar L.I.T.s this month—it’s only $1 for long island iced teas during the month of December.
6. Red Lobster
Now, for a limited time, Endless Shrimp is back at Red Lobster. Shrimp guzzlers can enjoy chowing down on as much shrimp as you can stuff in your belly.
Order your favorite shrimp preparations and continue to pick additional shrimp selections, one at a time. If you can eat a lot of shrimp, this deal is as good as it gets.
Also, you can’t miss out on Red Lobster’s Ultimate Surf and Turf event this holiday season. For a limited time, you can gorge yourself with five pairings of seafood and steak with three options of steak to choose from.
7. Texas Roadhouse
If you have a bunch of Texas Roadhouse lovers on your Christmas list, you can benefit, too. Get a $5 bonus e-gift card for every $30 you spend on gift cards online this holiday season.
You can also get a free appetizer by signing up for delicious gifts and more to be sent directly to your inbox.
It’s tough to argue with a few more emails getting sent to your inbox: Just think of a full slab of Texas Roadhouse’s delicious award-winning ribs and you’ll sign right up.
8. Cracker Barrel
Cracker Barrel is completely unique in that it doesn’t just serve food, it’s also an “old country store,” too.
This chain restaurant is offering its Twelve Days of Cracker Barrel deals November 27-December 8 and the company is coming up with a new deal every day this holiday season.
On December 4, for example, Cracker Barrel offered Dionis Personal Care hand creams and soaps (online only) for 50% off.
Check out the website for more daily deals that don’t involve just food. Furniture, lighting, clothing, kids’ apparel, and more… you’d hardly guess that Cracker Barrel is a chain restaurant, too.
9. Red Robin
For your next office shindig, capitalize on Red Robin’s catering options by getting a free $10 gift card when you purchase a gourmet burger bar. If you’re past the post-Christmas celebrations or need an idea for easy food for New Year’s, this could be your ticket.
There are a few other can’t-miss deals through Red Robin: Kids’ pasta is bottomless (because kids’ bellies are bottomless, too!)
10. Outback Steakhouse
Right now, Walkabout Wednesdays at Outback Steakhouse is one reason (maybe the only reason?) to look forward to the middle of the week.
You can get a six-ounce center-cut sirloin or grilled chicken on the barbie with Aussie Fries and a small domestic draft beer or soft drink for just $9.99.
You can also sign up for offers and rewards called Dine Rewards and get 50 percent off, up to $20, on every fourth visit to Outback.
11. Bonefish Grill
If you’re looking for something a little less fast-foodish and a little more upscale, seafood at Bonefish Grill may satisfy your fishy cravings.
It seems that Bonefish Grill has a special for every day of the week.
Martini Monday offers hand-crafted martinis for $5: Fresh Honeycrisp Apple, Fresh Raspberry, Tropic Heat, Fresh Pineapple, Cosmopolitan and Espresso are all valid after 4 p.m. on the toughest day of the week.
12. Carraba’s Italian Grill
If you’re a family of five and looking for a cheap way to feed your brood at home, look no further than Carraba’s. The chain restaurant is offering “Family Bundles” starting at $7 per person.
Each bundle feeds up to five people and comes with salad and bread. It’s available for carry-out only. There are a few delicious choices, including rigatoni campagnolo, spaghetti, cavatappi carrabba, lasagna, chicken parmesan, cavatappi alfredo, and more.
Is your mouth watering yet?
Daily happy hour features half-off appetizers every single day of the week. I repeat, every single day!
What’s more, Carrabba’s also lures customers with its Amore Mondays special (your choice of three courses starting at just $12.99), Tasting Tuesday (any three small plates for just $12, paired with house red or white wine for just $5 a glass).
Wait, there’s more.
Don’t forget Pizza and Wine Wednesday (any wood-fired pizza for $9.99 and $10 off bottles of wine) and Sangria Sunday (get this: you can guzzle endless glasses of blackberry, peach or red sangria all day for $12.99 with the purchase of an entrée).
Speaking of Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill and Fleming’s: If you become a member of Dine Rewards, you can receive 50% off of every fourth visit.
Dine at any one of these four and if you spend at least $20, ($40 at Fleming’s) you’ll qualify for the visit offer once you make three qualified visits within six months.
Also at Fleming’s, you can receive a $20 bonus card for every $100 spent on gift cards.
14. TGI Fridays
For every $25 you spend on gift cards at TGI Fridays Restaurant and Bar, you’ll receive $5-25 in Fridays Bonus Bites and a free one-night movie or game rental from Redbox.
You can also become a “friend with benefits” at Fridays, too, by signing up for TGI Fridays rewards. Free food like chips and salsa with every Fridays visit, invites to special events, etc. will show up in your inbox if you sign up for rewards.
If you’re a sucker for free appetizer or dessert coupons and you’ve got Fridays’ menu memorized already, why not earn points toward freebies?
At Panera Bread, the old “You Pick Two” has been sort of a customer standby for a lot of folks. Combine any two half portions of salads, sandwiches, soups, mac and cheese or flatbreads and create a perfect meal for you.
Through December 31, you can also earn a free $10 bonus card for every $50 in Panera Bread Gift Cards purchased.
In addition, if you’re a Panera regular, you can sign up for a rewards card and receive personalized rewards. For example, expect a birthday treat from Panera if it’s your birthday.
Or, dine there enough and there might just be a bakery good waiting for you the next time you check your rewards card.
16. Ruby Tuesday
At Ruby Tuesday, kids eat free every Tuesday night. You’ll get one free kid’s entrée with one adult entrée purchase after 5 p.m. Who can argue with that? Nobody, not even kids, because the kid-friendly options are outstanding.
RubyTueGo offers family pasta bundles for under $40, so you can feed the entire family on the cheap. Served with fresh garden salad and garlic Parmesan flatbread, it’s a steal.
Finally, the holiday gift card special for Ruby Tuesday includes a free $15 bonus card for every $50 in gift cards you buy.
17. Pizza Hut
Pizza Hut’s offering an oven-hot pizza delivery deal you can’t ignore. It’s $7.99 for a large two-topping pizza delivered right to your door. If you’re a Pizza Hut regular, you can earn rewards (and free pizza!) with every dollar you spend online.
Also, this is just a side note, but did you know that Pizza Hut now offers a giant freshly-baked chocolate chip cookie made with Hershey’s chocolate chips, cut into slices and served warm?
Not to mention, they’ve got triple chocolate brownies and cinnamon sticks, and freshly made apple pies.
Benihana loves birthdays.
Sign up for the Chef’s Table and receive the latest Benihana news, special offers and a complimentary $30 birthday certificate during the month of your birthday.
If you’ve got a child 12 or younger who loves Benihana, you can celebrate his or her birthday with the Kabuki Kids program.
Kiddos receive a special postcard for their birthday which entitles them to the free souvenir mug of their choice with the purchase of any Kabuki Kids meal.
Flaming onion volcanoes with artistic teppanyaki-style cooking—plus, deals. You can’t go wrong.
19. Bob Evans
In addition to including affordably delicious all-you-can-eat meals, Bob Evans offers deals this holiday season in the form of comfort meals, starting at just $4.99.
They’re called the 12 Meals of Christmas and if you look at them online, your mouth will water (never mind smelling them in the restaurant).
If you’ve got a Bob Evans fan in the family, you can purchase $25 or more in gift cards and get $30 in savings toward future purchases.
20. Old Country Buffet
There’s something extremely soul-satisfying about eating at a restaurant that offers all-you-can-eat comfort food.
Old Country Buffet knows what it means to be wallet-friendly, though, too, and the chain offers Thursday night family nights where kids eat for only $1.99 from 4 p.m. to close. They also get to enjoy treats like cotton candy, soft serve ice cream and tons of other desserts.
If you’re an active duty, reserve or retired military member, with a valid ID you can get a 15% daily discount.
Old Country Buffet’s Military Monday also honors current and former military personnel by providing the service member and up to three other family members with a special discount.
Leave it to Chick-fil-A to make you smile. Chick-fil-A’s cows steer us through 2018 with an upcoming “Steers of Yesteryear” calendar which features famous Chick-fil-A cows from the past. Available through December 31, the calendars are $8 while supplies last.
The calendar will help you keep track of each month’s low-cost promos and giveaways, and you’ll receive a free menu item each month by activating your Calendar Card online.
Fast food franchise or not, a lot of people agree: There’s just something special about Chick-fil-A. Check out the Chicken Wire for proof of that.
Most of these franchises understand customers’ struggle between the desire for good food and the constraints of an empty wallet. Chain restaurants go out of their way to try to give you as much food for as little amount of money as possible.
However, restaurants cost money, no matter what—especially once you order a cocktail or two. (Heck, even two soft drinks can tip the price of a $37 meal over the $40 brink.)
Don’t forget to ask your server about offers connected to your place of employment, or to any organizations you’re connected with.
For example, my town offers a discount at all the restaurants (chain restaurants and local) to my husband because of his connections to a major employer in town.
Here are a few ways to save even more money:
- Don’t forget to ask servers about their restaurant’s senior citizen discount
- Check out Groupon.com
- Check the newspaper for restaurant ads—and in particular, the Sunday paper
- Eat an appetizer as your main dish and skimp on the alcoholic beverages
- The local high school marching band, choir, soccer team, etc. is always selling a local coupon book
We hope you’ve enjoyed these chain restaurant deals. See one that’s not on the list and should be? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading and happy frugaling!