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CuriousDish: The Ritual of Tipping in Dallas

The tipping ritual varies all over the world.  Here is an article about the habits of gratuity giving all over the globe. In Europe, I love the nice even numbers on the menus and the “Service Compris” at the bottom of most menus.  I know what I’m spending. It saves me from having to do math.

What’s your method of calculating tip here in Dallas?  Are you a 10-percenter?  15?  20?  Would you prefer it if we,  like the French, included the service in the menu pricing? (Note: some places in Dallas already do this for parties of six or more.)  Do you modify your tip percentage depending on the whether the meal is  fine dining vs. fast-casual? Give me some tips.

30 comments on “CuriousDish: The Ritual of Tipping in Dallas

  1. I was VERY impressed several years ago when Houstons/now Hillstone/gave you the option of computing a tip on the bill already figured out and readily available on the bill…why is this not standard simplicity for ALL restaurants?GREAT IDEA from a restaurant chain that takes both it’s food and service to the top level…

  2. All of the restaurants in Disney World give the 15%, 18%, and 20% gratuity amounts at the bottom of the check. Pretty smart given the vast number of visitors from other countries that may or may not practice tipping.

    I tip 20% no matter where I am or what the service, unless it is horrific service in which case I talk to a manager.

  3. Great service or I’m a regular = 22-25%
    Good service = 20%
    Adequate service = 15%
    Bad service (and I’m very very forgiving) = 12%

    Tipping threads are usually pretty fun as the cheap people try to dance around their various justifications without looking like misers :)

    (former waiter here)

  4. ALWAYS at least 20% Waitstaff work hard for their money. The only time I don’t tip 20% is if the server themselves (not the food or any other aspect of the experience) is just not acceptable and, like Justin, I am extremely forgiving/understanding.

  5. With the rise of the “fast-casual” concept restaurants, I have seen more and more add tip jars and tip lines on checks. I have absolutely no idea how to navigate these murky waters and it has never been culturally explained.

    For example: Freebirds.

    It would help if I understood how much the workers were being paid per hour. Because of my confusion, I NEVER leave a tip at these places. I don’t feel bad about it. Conversely, I’m a healthy tipper in sit-down service restaurants. As a former waiter, I understand that $2.17/hr doesnt go far without good tips.

  6. @Justin: “Tipping threads are usually pretty fun as the cheap people try to dance around their various justifications without looking like misers”

    Classic! Those people just need to admit that they’re cheapskates and be done with it.

  7. @gunnertec: I am a standard 20% tipper with the exception of places where you order at the counter and have to go get your food. Sure the food is good, but is it great service? Then, I’m more of a 15% type.

  8. I have a question, what do you do it you order a $200 bottle of wine? Do you still tip 20% on the price of the bottle? Do you leave the alcohol out? What is the right thing to do?


  9. I tip 15% for mediocre service, 20% and up if it’s better than that. I spent my fair share of time waiting tables, so while I tend to give servers the benefit of the doubt (the kitchen may be slow, the bar mobbed, etc.), I also recognize good service when I see it, and reward it appropriately.

    Also, if you go in with a coupon or have taken advantage of some deal (like Restaurant Week, something from Groupon/Seize the Deal), keep in mind that the server didn’t do less because your bill is less. Go ahead and at least attempt to tip based on what the bill would’ve been, not what it is. If everyone did that, we’d probably hear fewer gripes from servers during Restaurant Week.

  10. Most time the wait staff tells me it was their pleasure serving me, so I take that as a suggestion that they do not need a tip and that my interaction with them was payment enough. I think we both walk away happy.

  11. 1) I tip on the amount BEFORE taxes are added (maybe everyone already knows this, but I was clueless until I noticed my date who was a chef, tipped this way)I’m blond, so sue me.
    2) 20% unless it’s really bad. And call me mean, but 10% sends them the message that your skills are lacking. Personality is a must for me.
    3) Chef date now husband and I occasionally really like someone and once when our waitress told us how much she spent on prom shoes, we left her the equivalent amount. We didn’t stick around for her reaction, and maybe we got played, but we have worked in the trenches and we love being able to afford these surprises occasionally.
    4) On the other side of the spatula, I once left 25 cents for someone who I overheard tell a fellow waitstaff member that the ‘b*tch at table five needs a quarter to stuff a maxi pad in her bra.’
    Yes, I was bitter. But it hurt.
    5) As for a restaurant pre-adding a tip. They’ll only get to do it once. I won’t be back.

  12. Typically, I just double the first 2 digits in the bill, and divide by ten, which always works out to between 18% and 20% (assuming your bill is between 10 and 100 bucks). But I do the calculation only on the pre-tax total.

  13. @My2Cents,

    There was a thread on wine/tipping previously that got a lot of responses.

    I always tip on the total bill, booze, tax, everything.


    Concerning gratting a bill, it’s fine by me if I’m with a large party, I understand the server hedging their bet, but then I never tip above the grat even if it’s just 18%.

    When I was waiting tables I once gratted a large family, and the pieces of trash actually subtracted the amount of tip from the check. And I was a really good waiter. Still pisses me off to this day.

  14. I can think of only one time that I did not leave a tip. It was a restaurant/bar in Plano, where the waitress had to be flagged down five times to get an order taken, an average of two times every time we needed refills (we eventually gave up and went to the bar for that), and then I had to go find her to tab out. She brought our checks to us (two checks for the table, not that hard), and then proceeded to come back having charged the wrong tabs to the wrong credit cards.

    I had to go find her again, and walk her to a computer and help her.

    If I have to do 99% of the work, you do not get a tip.

  15. I usually do 20% of the bill (including tax and booze) at a sit down place. Even if it’s horrible service (ok, maybe 15% for outrageously bad service).

    For counter service or take-out, I’ll usually tip $1.00 for each food meal ordered or maybe a flat $1.00 if it’s just a couple of coffees.

    At a bar, it’s generally just the change that makes sense (two $4.00 beers will yield $2.00 tip while two $4.50 beers will yield a $1.00 tip). I prefer to just start a tab so that I can do the normal 20% at the end instead of figuring it out along the way.

    Delivery guy gets 10%-20% depending on if there’s a delivery charge built in, and how big that charge is (ie: $2.00 tacked on the bill for a $20 delivery? He’s only getting another $3.00 max for a tip).

    I always wonder what to tip if I’m just getting a single item with varying prices. Let’s say I want to go somewhere to have just a bottle of wine. If I order the $25 bottle, then $5 is great. If I order the $70 bottle, do I need to pay $14 even though it’s the same amount of work? If the waiter is overwhelmingly experienced in recommending a wine and breaking down the menu for me, that’s one thing – he/she deserves something for that service. But if I stroll in, pick something expensive without their help, then…

  16. I leave 15-21%. We eat out about five times a week. We are “regulars” at a few of our spots and always have our favorite waiters helping us. I always give them more than 20%. We always have wine with our meals and I include that when figuring the tip although my wife always bitches that I do.

  17. 20% on the total bill if exceptional and un-patronizing service is provided. Sometimes, more.
    Otherwise, usually about 20% before tax and 10% on wine. Remember, in Dallas the tax on the wine is built in to the price of the wine or any alcohol.

  18. I think everyone should have to work as a server at some point in time. How people don’t realize that they make $2.17/per hr is amazing! Plus they have to tip out! So when I hear the above people talk about “I don’t tip on alcohol or expensive wine” outrages me! Did your server go get it for you, continue to pour it at the table?YOU TIP ON THAT PEOPLE!!! My motto is if you can’t afford to tip on what you ordered than you don’t need to go there! 20% should be your basic tip, then up or down depending on service. I thank baby Jesus I don’t work in a restaraunt anymore, but it was an experience that I’ll take with me forever!!

  19. I don’t know how much a typical gardener makes either – is that amazing to you Loftygirl? Judging from your somewhat bitter diatribe I, too, am a bit thankful you’re not in the biz anymore.

  20. To a point, Loftygirl is right. People often aren’t aware that when you put, say, $5 on the table as a tip, in many places the server has to split that with the bartender and the kitchen. And then there’s also tax.

    When I was a server (granted, this was in another state), you’d go in at the end of the night, add up your tickets, and then a percentage of that was as tips. Even if you didn’t get tipped. For instance, if my tickets totaled $600 for the night, I’d be taxed on about 13% of that – $78. But what if I had several tables stiff me? Or maybe that $600 was actually a series of 8 tops, meaning I had maybe 4 large parties with large tabs, but they didn’t tip to reflect that? I actually lose money, because I’m being taxed for more than I made.

  21. I start at 20% of the final bill (including taxes) and then round up or down to a whole dollar depending on service. If the service is lackluster then I bring it down to 15% rounded down or 10% if really bad.

    At a bar and I’m paying cash, then I tip approx .50 a drink $1 at a time. So first beer $1 tip, second beer no tip or leftover change. If I’m buying two at a time then a $1 a round. Or just open a tab and 20% at the end of the night.

    At counter service, sorry but no tip. All they did was what they were hired to do at an hourly wage, if you don’t like the wage talk to your mgr or find a different job.

    What about Sonic car hops or at Keller’s? They will bring the food to your car but I’m sure they are hired at an hourly wage.

    One thing to keep in mind is we are spoiled here in Dallas. Most every restaurant has great service from the dive down the street to any fine dinning. Keep that in mind when you dine outside of the Metroplex, because when you leave DFW the extra guy to fill your water and tea, or to clean your table is non-existent.

  22. I tip 20% for wine below $100 and start adjusting the percentage downwards for prices above $100. (If ordering multiple bottles and total is above $100, I still use 20% because I view the work that the server has to do to be on a per bottle basis.)

    Serving wine requires some incremental work of the waiter/waitress and may even involve a sommelier, so I understand that some tip is needed for the privilege of the service. However, at some price points a straight 20% begins to make less sense. (For instance, it seems a bit outrageous to me that a server should expect $100 for serving a patron a $500 bottle of wine.)

  23. @JoshT- Most every restaurant has great service?!?! Negative ghost writer! In fact, my husband and I are surprised and grateful if we get a good server… they are SO rare. Half the time I feel like I’m tip toeing around my server in hopes that they like me and will continue to fulfill my (simple, common, expected) wishes. And we are over the top friendly people. I’m just saying, its like a breath of fresh air when we get one, not the norm in this town!

  24. I have no guilty feelings whatsoever about the way I tip. (@Loftyfirl)
    If food servers aren’t happy with their tips, they need to find a different way to earn a living.

  25. My normal tip is somewhere around 20%. If the service is great 25%. If the service sucks 10% and I talk to the manager.

  26. @Brandy I was trying to make a general statement about Dallas compared to other cities. Maybe I don’t travel enough but my experience is once I leave the DFW area service goes down.

  27. I tend to double the amount of the tax and then round up. If the servive was poor I will go down a bit. If it was good I will go up.

  28. I tip based on the server’s service at the table (it’s not their fault if the kitchen fails them). 20% almost always, 15% for hitting the minimum basics but not much else, and I round up to the nearest dollar amount for everything else (very rarely happens, the waitstaff have to pretty much be rude or stupid for this one).

  29. I knew someone would post a “double the tax” comment. The problem with that method is alcohol is not included in your tax here in Dallas. Sooooo… if your bill was $400 for your group of four, but $200 of that was wine and cocktails, you’d be giving your server a tip of 8.25% if you doubled the tax on the bill…this happens more than you’d think at my establishment. Also, servers generally tip out their support staff on TOTAL sales; 6% at my place. If you scale back your tip on the wine, or don’t tip on wine at all (Thanks, Oprah), you are actually punishing your server.