21 Chains Where Drink Refills Are Free

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two soft drinks on wooden table and men sitting
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DRINK UP!

Soft drinks, coffees, and teas are key money makers for most restaurants. Marked up significantly to maximize revenues, beverages manage to drain customers' wallets at the same time. Most cheap guides to dining out recommend that you stick to tap water, but if you're at an establishment that offers free refills, a relatively pricey order instantly turns into a value buy(Note: In some cases, the availability of free refills may be at the franchise owner’s discretion and may vary by location.)

Denny's
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DENNY'S

Calling itself "America's Diner," Denny's is definitely among the most ubiquitous restaurants in the country, serving up breakfast, lunch, and dinner at more than 1,600 restaurants in the U.S. and more than dozen other nations. Thirsty diners here can get free refills on soda, coffee, iced teas, and lemonades.
Buffalo Wild Wings
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BUFFALO WILD WINGS

Fan of chicken wings and sports know that the two come together perfectly at this popular hangout with more than 1,200 locations across the country. "B-Dubs" is the place where the brave can try eyelash-curling, mouth-igniting chicken wings with the signature "Blazin'" hot sauce, so it's probably a good idea they offer free refills on soft drinks like Coke and Sprite.
Red Lobster
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RED LOBSTER

One of the big fish in the casual, sit-down seafood restaurant space, Red Lobster has more than 700 restaurants in the U.S. and Canada, and it's generous with its beverages. Diners can enjoy refills on sodas and lemonades, iced tea, hot tea, and coffee.
The Cheesecake Factory
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THE CHEESECAKE FACTORY

Now 40 decades old, this popular chain of some 200 sit-down restaurants has expanded well beyond its starting place in Beverly Hills, California. The Cheesecake Factory has a menu that extends far beyond its moniker and features full dinners, pizza, and numerous other dishes, and, of course, free refills on soft drinks, like Coke, Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Barq's Root, and Dr Pepper.
Longhorn Steakhouse
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LONGHORN STEAKHOUSE

After originally starting in Atlanta in the 1980s, Longhorn Steakhouse now has nearly 500 restaurants in some 40 states and has certainly put its brand on steak-eating in America. The casual, sit-down restaurant features a wide array of steaks, ribs, shrimp, and chicken dishes. Free refills are offered on lemonades, teas, and Coca-Cola products like Sprite and Pibb Xtra.
Cracker Barrel
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CRACKER BARREL

With 653 locations in 45 states, Cracker Barrel is a familiar sight along America's interstate highways. Based in Lebanon, Tennessee, the restaurant offers hearty, down-home meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, along with free refills on iced tea and lemonade.
Red Robin
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RED ROBIN

Red Robin is a Seattle startup that's gone nationwide to boast more than 500 locations, though its headquarters are now in Colorado. Known for big, hearty burgers and appetizers like fried pickles, Red Robin offers free refills on lemonades, signature beverages, iced tea, soft drinks, and cream sodas.
Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen
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CHEDDAR'S SCRATCH KITCHEN

Cheddar's got its start in 1979 and has grown to at least 160 locations mostly in Texas, the Midwest, and the East. The Arlington, Texas, based casual-dining spot emphasizes its made-from-scratch approach and features favorites like country-fried steak, "scratch burgers," and made-from-scratch sides like Southern green beans and mac 'n' cheese, as well as free refills on lemonade, iced tea, sodas, and coffee.
Texas Roadhouse
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TEXAS ROADHOUSE

Despite its name, Texas Roadhouse has Hoosier roots and Louisville, Kentucky headquarters, as well as more than 500 locations across the country. It was started in Clarksville, Indiana, in 1993. With an emphasis on burgers, steaks, and Texas-size combos, the restaurant also offers free refills on sodas, iced teas, coffee, and lemonades.
Taco Bell
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TACO BELL

In the 1970s Taco Bell was bought by PepsiCo, and by the 1980s the chain had announced it would offer free soda refills, making it, according to some sources, the first eatery to declare an official bottomless beverage policy. Today, diners can refill fountain drinks an unlimited number of times while inside one of the chain's outlets. Drive-through customers are not eligible for no-charge refills, and once dine-in customers leave, they forfeit the right to more.

Chipotle
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CHIPOTLE

To many people's dismay, Chipotle's prices rose this past year. Not surprisingly, the blogosphere is awash in musings about how to get the best value for the money. One idea: Buy a fountain drink and refill at the self-serve stations to your heart's content.

Starbucks
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STARBUCKS

This is a bit of a secret perk: If you join (for free) the Starbucks loyalty program, refills of hot coffee, iced coffee, or tea are free as long as you're in the store. The loyalty card must be used to be eligible. To join the rewards program, pick up a Starbucks card in a store or download the Starbucks app, free for iPhone and Android.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries
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FIVE GUYS BURGERS AND FRIES

This fast-food chain has mushroomed during the past few years and now boasts almost a cult following and some 1,500 locations in the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, Europe, and the Middle East. Go there for the food, which consistently ranks among the best in its class, but stay for the unlimited beverage refills from the Coca-Cola Freestyle Soda Fountain, which offers more than 100 options, including many hard-to-find Coke, Sprite, Fanta, Dasani, Minute Maid, and Powerade flavors.

Panera Bread
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PANERA BREAD

This national chain offers bakery items as well as salads, soups, and sandwiches, and garners high praise from Zagat and other critics. Dining in (free Wi-Fi makes Panera a popular place to do work) means just one size drink option, but refills at the fountain are unlimited. Some franchises also offer unlimited coffee and tea refills while sitting at a table.

McDonald's
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MCDONALD'S

For years many McDonald's stores were known for unlimited free fountain drink refills, even after leaving but presenting a McDonald's cup on a return visit. Now, free refills seem limited to that first visit. The policy on freebies is always up to the discretion of the franchise owner. Ditto for coffee, and some customers have reported bans on breakfast hour refills.

TGI Friday's
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TGI FRIDAYS

This casual, sit-down restaurant is generous with the freebies, such as "endless appetizers" and a free burger for a friend (accessible through a code on social media) when one is ordered in the restaurant. Fountain drinks are no exception: Expect free fill-ups for soft drinks, iced tea, and coffee throughout the meal. Sometimes TGI Fridays runs promotions for refills on other beverages, too, such as fruit slushes.

Friendly's
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FRIENDLY'S

A chain of family-friendly diners, famous for ice cream and ice cream concoctions, operates more than 350 locations throughout the East Coast. The menu promises free refills on Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, Fanta, Barq's Root Beer, Minute Maid Lemonade, and iced tea.

Photo © "Friendly's Restaurant" by Mike Mozart (CC BY 2.0)

Olive Garden
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OLIVE GARDEN

Another dine-in chain that boasts about never-ending appetizers and even pasta entrées, Olive Garden servers offer complimentary refills on soft drinks, raspberry lemonade, teas, fruit juices, and "Caffè la Toscana" when requested.

Chili's Restaurant
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CHILI'S GRILL AND BAR

Chili's casual dining restaurants advertise bottomless drinks on the house, including fountain drinks, brewed tea, flavored teas, regular and flavored lemonades, Arnold Palmers (virgin), and coffee. No dice on complimentary refills on alcoholic beverages, though.

Fuddruckers
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FUDDRUCKERS

Diners at this custom-burger chain enjoy unlimited refills on a fountain drink or tea. The policy doesn't apply to coffee, milk, or beer. All-you-can-eat fries are sometimes on offer, depending on the franchise owner and individual store policies.

AMC theater
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AMC THEATERS

Here is another under-the-radar freebie: Buy a large fountain drink (or a large popcorn) at an AMC movie theater and get one free refill at the concession stand. The official limit is one.

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