News

Everywhere You Can Get Free & Cheap Food for the First Day of Summer

Celebrate summer's official arrival with some good grub.

first day of summer food deals
Shutterstock.com

June 20 is the first official day of summer or what I think I can fairly call Weird Summer. No, it's probably not going to be known as that in history books, but when you're in the middle of it, you can call it whatever you want. 

In a standard, non-Weird Summer year, you could expect the first day of summer to catapult a payload of food deals in your general direction, offering ice cream and other summer staples. Weird Summer doesn't play by the same rules. But there are still some offers of low-cost, summery foods that will make you feel like the season is in full swing. You'll find deals from Starbucks, Wayback Burger, Burger King, and many other restaurants, both local and national.

Here are the best deals you'll find for the first day of summer. 

Free Food for the First Day of Summer

Wayback Burger
The deal:
Get a totally free 12-ounce Vanilla Milkshake to celebrate the first day of summer. No purchase is required. 
When: June 20

Yogurtland
The deal:
Recent graduates can get a free frozen yogurt at select Los Angeles-area locations. Wear your cap and gown or just show proof of having recently graduated to get a free 8-ounce cup. Additionally, if you post a photo of your creation while wearing your graduation gear, you'll get a $5 unlimited cup voucher for future use. 
When: June 20

McAlister's Deli
The deal:
Buy a tea through the McAlister's Deli app and you'll get to gift a tea to someone else. Each time you buy one, you'll get a unique code for a free tea that you can gift to anyone you'd like. 
When: Through June 22

Burger King
The deal:
Use the BK app to get a free Whopper with a $1 purchase if you're new to the app. You can also get a free cheeseburger with any purchase, and you don't have to be new to the app. 
When: Through June 30

Starbucks
The deal: If you're downloading the app and signing up for the Rewards Program for the first time, the ubiquitous coffee shop is going to give you one free drink in the form of 150 reward points when you sign up. 
When: Through August 10

Boston Market
The deal:
If you've never signed up, now is the time to sign up for Boston Market's Rotisserie Rewards program. If you're joining for the first time, you'll get a coupon for a complimentary individual meal. You'll get either a 1/4 white or three-piece dark rotisserie chicken meal.
When: Through June 24 

Popeyes
The deal:
 Spend at least $10 through the Popeyes app and you'll get three free chicken tenders if you're signing up for the first time. 
When: Through June 30

Halo Burger
The deal:
Nab a free QP Burger after your first loyalty visit to the burger chain. 
When: Ongoing

Red Lobster
The deal:
Order one Coconut Shrimp appetizer, and you're getting a second order gratis when you order through UberEats.
When: Through June 30

TooJay's Deli
The deal:
Sign up for the TooJay's Delicious Rewards program to get a free iced tea or lemonade with your order. Then you'll also be rewarded with a free dessert on your next visit
When: Through June 20

Burger King
The deal:
You can get BK's new Impossible Croissan'wich for free through the mobile app when you make a purchase of at least $1. 
When: June 30 or until 100,000 are given away

Popeyes
The deal:
Place your first order through the Popeyes site or mobile app and you'll be able to tag a free Classic Chicken Sandwich or Spicy Chicken Sandwich onto an order as long as you hit the $15 minimum. 
When: Through June 29

Wendy's
The deal
: Use the chain's mobile app to get a free Spicy Chicken Sandwich with any purchase at all. 
When: Through July 5​​​​​​

first day of summer food deals
Courtesy of Chili's

Food Deals for the First Day of Summer

Chili's
The deal:
For Father's Day, the chain's 6-ounce Sirloin and the Chicken Fajitas have been added to the three for $10 deal. That includes an entrée, starter, and a non-alcoholic beverage. 
When: June 19-21

Smoothie King
The deal:
The home of smoothie royalty is joining DoorDash. To celebrate, you get $0 delivery fees on your first order through DoorDash on orders of at least $15. Additionally, if you subscribe to DashPass, Smoothie King will now have $0 delivery fees through the program. 
When: Through June 29

Insomnia Cookies
The deal:
Get 20% off any cookie cake in recognition of Father's Day. Just tell them you know the code "DADJOKES" and they'll let you in on the deal. 
When: June 18-22, 3am

first day of summer food deals
Courtesy of The Goods Mart

Local Food Deals for the First Day of Summer

The Goods Mart - New York City, New York
The deal:
Get a $1 Kelvin Slush organic slushie. All of the proceeds are going to go to The Okra Project and to Black Women's Blueprint. If you're out at a protest, you can also DM the shop about its protest snack boxes that are being made available for free.
When: Through July 4

first day of summer food deals
Courtesy of Torchy's Tacos

More Food Deals Available on the First Day of Summer

Steak 'n Shake
The deal:  Everyone -- yes, that includes you -- is getting a free order of fries at Steak 'n Shake. You'll have to go through the drive-thru, but there's no minimum order. It's open to anyone, at any time as a part of a program called "We're All Essential."
When: Ongoing

Jimmy John's
The deal: The sandwich shop announced its Freaky Fast Rewards program is going national on December 9. To celebrate, after your first order through the app, you'll be rewarded with a free eight-inch sandwich. 
When: Ongoing

Cousins Subs
The deal:
You can get a free seven-and-a-half-inch sub when you sign up for Cousins Club. Plus, if you're a Cousins Club member and place an online order, you'll get double points.
When: Ongoing

Burger King
The deal:
You can grab eight chicken nuggets for a buck. That'll also apply to the Spicy Chicken Nuggets that the chain just brought back.
When: For a limited time

Juice It Up
The deal
: If you're a Juice It Up! Rewards Member you'll automatically find a coupon in your account for a free $3 Medium Classic Smoothie of your choice. 
When: June 21, 3-5pm

Taco Bell
The deal:
On March 28, the bean-slinging chain announced that it will expand its free delivery option through Grubhub. You can get free delivery on any delivery order of at least $12.
When: Ongoing

Pizza Hut
The deal: For a limited time, you can get a Meat Lover's Pizza for just $10. That's 30% off the usual price. 
When: Ongoing

Pokeworks
The deal:
All new app users get $5 off their order. 
When: Ongoing

Village Burger Bar
The deal:
Burgers are just $5.99 all day when you swing in for takeout or curbside pickup. 
When: Ongoing

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams
The deal:
If you order at least four pints of ice cream, you can get free delivery when you order through the Jeni's website. Orders through Postmates will not get the same deal.
When: Ongoing

Edible Arrangements
The deal:
The company has temporarily eliminated fees for same-day delivery for orders placed by 3pm daily and many locations are offering free delivery of fresh fruit and produce. 
When: Limited time

Bonchon
The deal:
Order through Uber Eats to get free delivery with an order of $25 or more. 
When: Ongoing

Uberrito
The deal:
The chain is running a "$5 chicken for pick-up" deal as well as offering a $0.99 kid meal with the purchase of an entrée.
When: Ongoing

Qdoba
The deal
: The new Burrito Meal Deal will land you a burrito, tortilla chips, salsa, and a dessert for $9.95. 
When: Ongoing

McDonald's
The deal:
Use the McDonald's mobile app to get a 99-cent hot or iced coffee once a day. 
When: Through June 28

Capriotti's Sandwich Shop
The deal:
Nab a free grilled cheese sandwich for kids when you buy an entrée and get it delivered.
When: Ongoing

BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse
The deal:
Place an order of $9.95 or more and get a free Pizzokie -- that's a portmanteau of pizza and cookie -- when you use the code "PIZOOKIE."
When: Ongoing

Penn Station East Coast Subs
The deal:
Order a sub online and you can get a free small sub with the code "PSBOGO."
When: Ongoing

Wahoo's Fish Tacos
The deal:
Get a family meal deal for $35. It comes with eight tacos, rice, beans, churro chips, and chips and salsa. You can get fountain drinks for a dollar each or bottled beers for $2.99 each. 
When: Ongoing

Torchy's Tacos
The deal:
For $25, you can get a Build-Your-Own Taco Family Pack with tacos and sides for four to five people. 
When: Ongoing

Natural Light
The deal:
If you file your taxes with TaxAct, Natural Light will give you a free case of Natural Light. Get all the details here
When: Through July 15

Einstein Bros. Bagels
The deal:
The new Hot & Ready Brunch Box lands you six bagels, a tub of shmear, three egg sandwiches, four blueberry muffins, and four twice-baked based browns for $29.99. 
When: Ongoing

BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse
The deal:
Get half-off a large pizza with the code "HALFOFF" or get a $6 take-home entrée with a $9.95 purchase. There's a limit of three of the cheap meals per order.
When: A limited time

Red Lobster
The deal:
Order directly through RedLobster.com and you can get free touchless delivery at participating locations. 
When: Ongoing

Baskin-Robbins
The deal:
When you order through DoorDash you can get $0 delivery fees on any order of at least $15 with the code "BASKIN."
When: Ongoing

Applebee's
The deal: Spend at least $20 and you can get 25-cent boneless wings with the code "25CENT."
When: Ongoing

Ike's Love & Sandwiches
The deal:
Place a catering order for at least $100, and you'll get $20 off your order. 
When: Through June 30

Subway
The deal: Belly up with the aid of sandwich artists. Subway is offering BOGO foot-long subs.
When: Ongoing

Burger King
The deal:
Grab free delivery when you place an order of at least $20 through the Burger King mobile app. 
When: Through June 30

Panera
The deal:
Take advantage of Panera's new curbside service and get $5 off an order of at least $20 with the code "CURBSIDE5."
When: Ongoing

Burger King
The deal:
Make any purchase through the BK app, and you'll get a free Kids Meal when you order through the app. 
When: Through June 30

Wahoo's Fish Tacos
The deal:
You'll get a coupon for half-off your next taco or enchilada entrée with the purchase of one at full price. 
When: Through June 26

Olive Garden
The deal:
The home of unlimited breadsticks is crafting a Mother's Day Family-Style Take & Bake Bundle. For $40, you get a pan of ready-to-bake Giant Cheese Stuffed Shells, a jumbo house salad with a bottle of Italian dressing, and a dozen ready-to-bake breadsticks with dipping sauce. 
When: Starting May 2

Taco Cabana
The deal:
There are a few deals you can snag for Mother's Day at Taco Cabana. Get two Nutella empanadas for $2.99 (or a dozen for $14.99), $2 margaritas, or a gallon of margaritas to go for $34.99. 
When: Ongoing

Drizly
The deal:
For Father's Day, the alcohol delivery service is offering $5 off an order or free delivery with the code "HAPPYFATHERSDAY5."
When: Through June 21

Firehouse Subs
The deal:
The chain's new Family Meal deal gets you a mix-and-match of three subs, three orders of chips, and three cookies for $24. 
When: Through June 28

Hooters
The deal:
Make a $30 purchase and you'll get $10 off with the code "GET10." Place an order for $50, and you'll wind up with $15 off when you use the code "GET15." However, if you think you've spotted a trend, you'll be disappointed to find out there's no "GET20."
When: Ongoing

Einstein Bros. Bagels
The deal:
Teachers and parents who are homeschooling their kids can take advantage of a couple of deals for Teacher Appreciation Week. That includes 20% off an eGift Card you can send to someone to say thanks. 
When: Ongoing

Smokey Bones
The deal:
Get a free kids meal with the purchase of any adult entrée. 
When: A limited time

Taco Cabana
The deal:
If you work in a restaurant, hotel, food service industry, grocery store, big-box store, or drugstore, you can get 50% off your order when you purchase while wearing a uniform or show an ID. 
When: Ongoing

Olive Garden
The deal:
The pasta chain is now offering alcohol delivery with $15 bottles of wine, $10 six-packs, and $3 White Claws. 
When: Ongoing

The Capital Grille
The deal:
Get free delivery on wine and champagne.
When: Ongoing

Besa mi Vino
The deal:
Take 20% off any order of the canned wine with the code "LOVEYOU."
When: Ongoing

Carabba's Italian Grill
The deal:
You'll take home a bonus $10 gift card when you buy at least $50 in gift cards. The bonus card will be valid through December 31.
When: Through June 21

California Pizza Kitchen
The deal:
You're taking home a $10 bonus e-card when you buy a $50 gift card. 
When: Through June 21

Tijuana Flats
The deal:
Place an order of at least $25 through the TF website to get free delivery. 
When: Through July 31

BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse
The deal:
Buy a $50 gift card and take home a bonus $10 gift card. 
When: Through June 21

Starbucks
The deal:
Order delivery through Uber Eats and you'll get a $0 delivery fee. (Though, will likely still be an order fee involved.)
When: Ongoing

Applebee's
The deal:
Order through the mobile app or the Applebee's website to get free delivery with no minimum purchase required. 
When: Through June 20

Panda Express
The deal:
The ubiquitous Chinese restaurant is launching its own delivery service a year ahead of schedule, which will save you the frustrating fees you see with third-party services. To celebrate the launch, it's offer free delivery on any order over $10. This launch also coincides with Panda Express bringing back its full menu. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, it had implemented a temporary limited menu.
When: June 18 - July 1

Olive Garden
The deal:
Grab a free $10 gift card for every $50 card you purchase. 
When: Through June 21

Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen
The deal:
Take home a bonus $5 gift card for every $25 in e-gift cards you buy from Cheddar's.
When: Through June 21

Want More Free Food?

Here's our huuuuuuuge running list of all the free food you can get right now, as well as the best reward programs, birthday freebiesgift card offersdeals on food for kids, food delivery, and alcohol delivery deals you'll find. If you want a little more than, say a free taco, we also have you covered with a long list of meals you can get at fast food chains under $5. You're welcome.

Additionally, we've put together a list of places offering free food to healthcare workers and first responders during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email and subscribe here for our YouTube channel to get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.

Dustin Nelson is a Senior Staff Writer at Thrillist. Follow him @dlukenelson.