Restaurants That Accept EBT in California

Millions of people all across the United States use EBT benefits to help them put food on the table every month. EBT, or Electronic Benefits Transfer, is the name given to a plastic card that people who receive benefits receive a certain amount of money on every month to help them pay for food for themselves and their families.

EBT is an amazingly effective system that allows people to receive their monthly benefits quickly and easily—but many people who first receive these benefits often run into some confusion over what can and can’t be bought with their monthly stipends. Generally speaking, EBT benefits are restricted for use only in grocery stores (or in certain other stores like gas stations and pharmacies) for products that can be deemed as food. However, did you know that certain restaurants in California do accept EBT as a form of payment? 

California is one of only 7 states that currently allows the use of EBT benefits to purchase prepared foods from restaurants. In this article, we’ll talk about this topic a bit more in depth and also talk about some of the restaurants in California that accept EBT as a form of payment!

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It should be noted for the purposes of this article that EBT and Food Stamps are not the same thing. 

Food Stamps (or SNAP benefits, an acronym for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) is a program through which funds are usually provided through your EBT card, but just because you receive SNAP benefits on your card does not mean these funds can automatically be used to buy food at restaurants, even in a state like California. 

People who wish to be able to use their EBT benefits at restaurants not only have to apply for and receive assistance through the SNAP program, they must also be enrolled in the Restaurant Meals Program (RMP)—an additional subset of the SNAP program specifically designed for those who have trouble cooking meals for themselves for one reason or another.

Those who typically qualify for the RMP tend to fall into the following categories:

  • People who are homeless
  • People who are considered “elderly,” meaning that they’re at least age 60 years or older, and their spouse 
  • Those who are disabled—meaning they receive additional government benefits such as Social Security Disability Benefits, Railroad Retirement Benefit Annuities, or receive funds from the Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants (CAPI), for example—and their spouse.

If you find that you happen to fall into one of these categories, then that means that you likely qualify for the Restaurant Meals Program and—in addition to being able to use your SNAP benefits to buy food from grocery stores—you can also use your benefits to buy food from specific restaurants! 

Now that we have a better general understanding of how these benefits break down, we can get into which restaurants in California can accept your EBT card as a payment option!

Fast Food Options

Fast food restaurants are some of the most accessible places to those who are hoping to be able to use their benefits to buy an already prepared meal. It makes a lot of sense when you consider who the RMP is really designed for, which, as previously stated, is for those who are not really able to prepare meals themselves.

In California especially, there are a number of popular fast-food chains that are able to accept EBT as a form of payment. 

Some of the most well-known restaurants are:

  • McDonald’s
  • Burger King
  • Domino’s Pizza
  • KFC
  • Popeye’s
  • Jack in the Box
  • Subway 
  • Pizza Hut

While by no means an exhaustive list, these places are some of the most nationally recognized fast food restaurants—and you’re likely to find that at least one of them fits your cravings, whether you’re hoping for a burger, a sandwich, or some fried chicken!

It’s important to remember though that not every single franchised location of one of these places accepts EBT as a form of payment. The restaurant itself also has to be participating in the Restaurant Meals Program for you to be able to use your card there. 

If you’re unsure, always be sure to ask before you place your order if you can use your benefits to pay! 

Casual Dining

Fast food restaurants aren’t your only option if you’re hoping to use your EBT benefits to buy something hot to eat! There are also a number of sit-down restaurants in California that will accept your card as payment. 

If you’re hoping to treat yourself to a nice sit-down meal in Los Angeles county, then consider some of the following restaurants: 

  • Denny’s
  • Yoshinoya
  • Diana’s Mexican Food
  • Bayou Grille
  • Krab Queenz

It’s important to remember that restaurants choose themselves whether or not to participate in the Restaurant Meals Program, and as such you may find different places that might accept your EBT card depending on where exactly in California you’re located.


At the end of the day, if you’re hoping to use your EBT benefits to buy food in a restaurant in California, you may be in luck! 

Many restaurants all across the state will allow you to purchase already prepared foods (usually a no-go for those receiving SNAP benefits) as long as both you and the restaurant in question are enrolled in the Restaurant Meals Program, which is different from the traditional SNAP program. 

The RMP program is designed for those who cannot or do not have regular access to facilities where they can cook for themselves—meaning the homeless, the elderly, and those who are disabled. 

Restaurants that accept EBT also vary depending on where exactly in California you’re located, but a full list of the over 315 restaurants that accept EBT as a form of payment can be found here

If you’re ever confused or unsure, just know that most restaurants that will accept EBT as a form of payment usually have some sort of sign clearly posted so that customers can see it easily. However, if you want to be especially sure that you can use your benefits there, you can always call the specific restaurant you’re hoping to go to and get confirmation that way as well! 

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