How Much to Tip? Fork in the Road Weighs In


Fifteen percent? Eighteen percent? Twenty percent? Knowing how much to tip these days can be tricky. Jonathan Gold suggests 20 percent, all the time, no exceptions. But what if the tip is already written in? Do you add more on top of that? The economics of tipping can be confusing, so the Fork in the Road team outlined their general tipping practices. But we want to hear from you, too. Tell us what you tip in the comments, or if there are any rules/exceptions that we’re missing.

Tipping in restaurants

Lauren Shockey: I always tip 20 percent, even if service is less than stellar. I think this is usually fair for restaurants of a high caliber. The only time that I get nervous about this is if it’s a fixed price where the tip is already factored in — in that instance I usually don’t add an extra amount even though there’s generally a line to do so. However, I’ve heard mixed things about whether one should tip 20 percent pre- or post-tax, so I’m actually quite interested to hear what you guys have to say about that. I do post-tax, but I’ve heard some industry people say they do pre-.

Robert Sietsema: I always tip around 20 percent, though the amount varies since I always round up or down for my own monetary convenience, just like the federal government. I don’t make any distinction between expensive restaurants and cheap ones, in general. And I certainly always tip the usual amount in Chinese restaurants, where people often reduce their tip for one justification or another. When I’m in a restaurant where not tipping is customary, I tip anyway.

Chantal Martineau: I always tip at least 20 percent. But I’ve never subtracted the tax, so I guess that’s more than 20.

Tipping for takeout and delivery

Lauren Shockey: I usually tip the delivery person 10 percent, though if it’s raining, the tip is a $5 minimum, because having to deliver other people’s food on a bike in the rain is truly shitty and that should be rewarded. And while I almost always pay for delivery by credit card (if possible), I’ll always pay the tip in cash (I tend not to do this in nicer restaurants since my bills are so much higher and I try not to carry wads of cash around with me).

Robert Sietsema: I don’t get delivery, so I don’t know how much I’d tip. The food always tastes better fresh, and I’m always in the mood for a stroll, especially if there’s work to be done.

Chantal Martineau: I tend to do 20 percent here, too. But, yeah, if it’s bad weather, it’s minimum $5 no matter what the total.

Tipping in bars

Lauren Shockey: This one can be tricky for me. I feel $1 per drink for wine, a straight shot, and really simple well drinks like gin and tonic should suffice, but if it’s a drink where it takes more than just a straight pour and there’s some mixology involved, I’ll usually tip $2 per drink. However, if the wine is over $12-$15 a glass, then I usually tip $2.

Robert Sietsema: I always tip $2 per drink, whatever the situation, unless $2 seems like too little, as when the mixologist is sitting in your lap stirring 20 things into your glass that he made himself. That’s really more like a lap dance, and you should pay an admission price on top of the normal tip.

Chantal Martineau: Sorry to say the days of the $1-per-drink tip are over (except for dive bars or anywhere priced like it’s the Midwest). For a glass of wine that’s $10, I’ll tip $3 for two or $2 each if it’s in the $12+ range. For a cocktail, I’ll usually do $2 for the effort involved in making it.


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