Veterans Day 2020: Where to get the best food freebies and deals

Each year on November 11, the anniversary of the end of World War I — the war to end all wars — the United States honors those who have served in its armed forces with Veterans Day. Since May 13, 1938, when the day was officially declared a national holiday, Americans across the country pause to remember and express gratitude for those who have served the country (via United States Department of Veteran Affairs).

While citizens can hardly repay service members for all that they do, there are plenty of retail establishments, restaurants, and fast food chains that offer deals and freebies on food and drink. It's a small way to show appreciation. After all, food is a great equalizer that somehow has a way of relaying the country's feelings of gratitude. So, to celebrate their service and sacrifice, veterans can and should visit any number of restaurants and chain locations to get some of the best deals on food and drink, as well as free meals.

Chains to visit

Veterans looking for a free, hot breakfast have quite a few options to choose from with fast food chains. According to a press release received by Mashed, participating Wendy's locations nationwide are offering a free small breakfast combo with a valid military ID from 6:30-10:30 a.m. on November 11. Just present your ID when you dine-in or drive-thru. Service members enrolled with Veterans Advantage can also pick up a free breakfast sandwich with any breakfast purchase between Veterans Day and December 31.

The next chain to visit is Dunkin', where veterans can get a free donut without a purchase. The offer is only good in stores while supplies last. Krispy Kreme is also giving away free donuts along with a small hot or iced coffee. Veterans, active service members, and their spouses can get a free tall hot brewed coffee from Starbucks. Finally for breakfast, Einstein Bros. Bagels are giving away free hot or iced medium coffees. Just tell the cashier you're a veteran.

For lunch, head to Buffalo Wild Wings. Veterans can get 10 boneless wings and fries for free when you dine-in or take-out. Zaxby's is also offering a free boneless wings meal. Freddy's Frozen Custard and Steakburgers is giving out free combo meal cards and Cicis Pizza will have a free adult buffet for veterans with an ID and a coupon from their website. Head to Friendly's for a free All-American meal for lunch or dinner (via USA Today).

Restaurants worth visiting

If you prefer to stop in a restaurant, lots of restaurants are offering a free meal from a special menu on Veterans Day, including Applebee's, California Pizza Kitchen, Bob Evans, Chili's Grill and Bar, and O'Charley's, which always offers a 10 percent military discount too. Go to Huddle House for a free MVP breakfast platter.

Sonny's BBQ will have free pork sandwiches on Wednesday, and veterans who visit will also get a voucher for a free BBQ Egg Roll appetizer that can be used between December 1-15. Outback Steakhouse will provide free Bloomin' Onions and Coke products, though they always have a 10 percent discount as well for service members and first responders. Carrabba's Italian Grill will include a free order of calamari with any purchase to all veterans and first responders in addition to their ongoing 10 percent discount.

Golden Corral plans to hand out free meal and beverage cards to all active duty servicemen and women and veterans through November 30. These can be redeemed for lunch or dinner once from Monday-Thursday until May 31. Head to Cracker Barrel for a free slice of double chocolate fudge Coca-Cola cake for dessert.

Other retailers celebrating Veterans Day

If you find yourself on the road on or around Veterans Day, there are several gas station chains and convenience stores that are offering deals to military personnel and veterans. 7-Eleven will have special offers like a free cup of coffee for those with a Veterans Advantage account. You'll need to link the account to the 7Rewards loyalty program to get the special offers, however.

Travelcenters of America plans to provide free meals for veterans at participating restaurants such as Country Pride, Iron Skillet, or TA Petro quick service restaurants. Pilot Flying J will also have free meals for veterans. You can stop in a Pilot Flying J to get a free breakfast combo that comes with coffee through November 15. (You will need to have the Pilot Flying J app downloaded.)

However you plan to celebrate and enjoy Veterans Day, there are plenty of ways to ensure you'll have a warm cup of coffee in hand, a delicious meal, and a nation's gratitude.