The 15 Absolute Best Chain Restaurant Happy Hours
Everyone grew up with a favorite chain restaurant—usually the one your parents dragged you to when you refused to eat anything that wasn’t deep fried or drenched in ketchup. But as adults, we love the tchotchke-bedecked, pop rock-blasting, special sauce-soaked eateries for a whole new reason: cheap drinks. And those cheap drinks get even cheaper during happy hour. Here are the best places to grab some budget Americana on the rocks.
The laws of time and space cease to function inside TGI Fridays, where every day is Friday and all hours are happy. The chain’s “Endless Happy Hour” runs all day, every day, at most locations. Select appetizers cost just $5, including flatbreads, pot stickers, fried mozzarella, loaded potato skins and Buffalo wings. Drinks, on the other hand, vary by day and location, but generally run $3-5, with select days for deals on classic cocktails like Margarita Mondays.
Of course the BWW happy hour features wings. You get a dollar off beers and $4 appetizers any night of the week from 2 to 6 p.m., but Tuesdays and Thursdays are the real wing lover’s opportunity to score. Traditional, bone-in wings are half-off on Tuesdays, while the boneless variety costs just 90 cents on Thursdays.
The pan-Asian chain serves a mix of fare (featuring everything from tempura green beans to pad thai to kung pao chicken), with cheap cocktails to match. From 3 to 6 p.m. on weekdays, vaguely thematic cocktails like the Asian Pear Mojito and more traditional Moscow Mule are only $6, as are pours of wine or Gekkeikan sake, and craft beer goes for just $4. There are also discounts on small plates like dumplings, tempura, egg rolls and sushi.
Despite the infamously epic menu at the Cheesecake Factory that could double as a barbell, the chain’s happy hour menu is short and sweet. From 4 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, $6 will get you well drinks and certain cocktails, including Mojitos, LIITs, Margaritas, Cosmos and J.W.’s Pink Lemonade, made with citrus vodka, raspberry liqueur and lemonade. Select glasses of wine also cost $6 and draft beers are only $4. Pair your budget booze with $6 snacks like fried mac and cheese, Buffalo Blasts (like buffalo wing egg rolls) and nachos.
From 3 to 6 p.m. every day (though some locations also offer late night happy hours, sometimes until close), $3 will buy you a 20-ounce, plus-sized “Brewtus” glass of beer, while other cocktails, including their famous Margaritas, are half-off. Prices for select appetizers like mozzarella sticks and big German pretzels are also slashed in half, bringing them down to around five bucks.
While locations in the actual outback of Australia feature a full happy hour menu from 4 to 6 p.m. (those are Aussie dollars, mind you), deals at U.S. locations vary based on local laws. Some offer 2 for 1 drinks, while others stick to the “all day happy hour” conceit, which means you pay just $5 for Sangria, basic vodka drinks, some Margaritas and some Martinis no matter when you hit up the down under eatery.
Don’t spend your quarters on arcade games; save them for the happy hour deals at D&B’s. During the deal hours, 4:30 to 7 p.m. on weeknights and late night Sunday through Thursday (depending on your location), cocktails are half-off, domestic pints cost $2.50, and 22-ounce drafts and glasses of wine are $1 cheaper. Plus, half-price apps will fuel your next DDR throwdown.
Friday happy hour at Chili’s may sound tempting with drink deals from 3 to 7 p.m., but on other weekdays, a late night happy hour kicks in after 9 p.m. in addition to the standard hours. That said, the best deal is on Sunday (funday), when happy hour runs all day. Drink specials include $3 well drinks and domestic beers, $4 wine and house Margaritas, and $5 Long Island Iced Teas and Presidente Margaritas (made with añejo tequila). Eats like chips and salsa start at just $3 too, and wings go for just $6.
You won’t find discount hard liquor at Red Lobster, but you can still get buzzed on their budget wine and beer deals. From 3 to 6 p.m. on weekdays, beers are just $3 and wines are $4. Various fried seafoods and other appetizers cost $5 to boot (not that you need any extra apps with those free cheddar bay biscuits).
Like TGI Fridays, Ruby Tuesdays is good for cheap drinks beyond its namesake weekday. During their daily happy hour from 4 to 6:30 p.m., you can get your hands on their line of Absolut cocktails for just $5. But considering drinks usually cost $5-7 anyway, we’re not going to rush to make the 6:30 cutoff.
Starting at 5 p.m., Fleming’s happy hour gets a bit clever with their “five six seven” menu, offering drinkers selections of five cocktails (like Blueberry Lemon Drops and Bourbon Basil Smashes), five wines and five apps (like spicy calamari or creamy burrata), all starting at $6 and running until 7 p.m.
You may not get the traditional skillet-scraping show in the bar area of a Benihana, but you will find specialty cocktails like the Beni-tini and Sake Sangria for just $7, as well as house sake for just $3 and Benihana house plum wine for $6.50. Pad your stomach with discount rolls and nigiri before taking on the $18 Blue Ocean Punch Bowl, meant for two or more drinkers (or one very thirsty office worker).
The best part about drinking at Texas Roadhouse are the “Kickers” that come with Margaritas, little test tubes filled with extra tequila that you can add DIY bartending style at your table. Happy hour, which runs weekdays from 4 to 6 p.m., doesn’t make the kickers (already cheap at $1-3) any cheaper, but it does bring down the price of Margs by $2, making the whole deal sweeter. Domestic drafts are a dollar less too, all of which you can pair with a $9 “Early Dine” special (like country-fried steak or grilled pork chop) before 6 p.m.
The Hard Rock doubles down on happy hour, giving drinkers two opportunities to drink for cheap. From 5 to 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. to midnight every weeknight, cocktails are half-off, including drinks like their excessive Piña Colada variations, as are bottles of Estrella Damm. Drink your weight in Hurricane glass cocktails, soak up round one with a burger, then jump back in for round two once happy hour kicks back in.
Despite what you may read elsewhere online, Olive Garden doesn’t currently offer any happy hour deals. However, they will provide discounts to diners who wait for a table for more than an hour. So, if your local Garden gets slammed after work, you may be able to set yourself up with an impromptu happy hour all of your own.