The Idiots Guide to Tipping in Restaurants

by Gabriel Hummel on October 19, 2010

proper restaurant tipping etiquette

Remember when you could walk into a restaurant and your mom and dad would grab the bill after a delicious and hearty meal?

Without a care in the world, you never had to don the responsibility of the paying the check, let alone have to worry about splitting it 3 ways and figuring out how much to tip the 5 different people that aided you in your culinary quest that evening.

What is a dumb founded diner to do in the wake of wait staff, bartenders, casual diners, included gratuity, and casino style buffets?

Fear not dear viewer, I have devised a tipping schema that is so brilliantly simple that even the most mentally handicapped diner could tip his way into a beautiful woman’s knickers.

The Rules

There are so many rules when it comes to tipping that I find it easier to apply the KISS philosophy (keep it simple stupid).

bartender tricks

I recommend that any bartender/wine pourer/keeper of spirits should be tipped about 15% unless they are your staple neighborhood bartender or they help you procure the phone number of a lovely damsel in distress.


Your server or wait staff member should be tipped 15-20% (before taxes) normally, with bonus points going towards action above and beyond the call of duty (read: scoring you free food or booze and being a generally awesome person to be around).

Now we get into the intricate details of the restaurant industry, amateur hour is over.

restaurant valet

Valets don’t need more than a buck or two; they likely have already pillaged your center console and taken your brand new Porsche for a joy ride anyway


Coatroom attendants piss me off because they literally take two steps the whole evening and yet get paid as much as a valet. I say only tip them if they aren’t being a pompous bigot.

wine steward

We have come full circle, and ended right back at those damned wine stewards (sommeliers for you fancy bastards). If these guys act as your personal slave throughout the course of the evening, then feel free to toss them 10% of your ludicrous wine bill.

black bathroom attendant

Now that you are all liquored up, you are going to make your way to the bathroom and likely run into a bathroom attendant. If the guy is old school and offers some child friendly amenities such as cologne, gum, and condoms, then I say tip the man if you partake, otherwise restrain from flipping him the bird and walk away from the urinal.

Take a deep breath, and relax. We have made it through the rules of tipping.

Now the fun part begins. What do you do if things don’t go off without a hitch? What if unexpected situations arise that transform into a scene from My Big Fat Greek Wedding? Then what the hell do you do?

When to Screw/Make Out with the Man

Sometimes the shit hits the fan in a big way in a restaurant. When there are two others diners in an establishment and your server forgets to bring you pepper 3 times, don’t feel compelled to leave anything at the end of the evening.

Similarly, if your food is crap and your waiter looks like he just took two hits of X and finished listening to the entire Grateful Dead anthology, feel free to stiff the bill completely after you pound him and his manager that hard drugs should be left to Vegas partygoers and not random teenage boys and wannabe chefs.

On that same token, if someone acts as your superman during service, act accordingly. Do not leave a 10% tip when your waiter busts their ass for you and has a conversation with the chef about your vegan-gluten-fat-free diet and comes up with a great dish for you. Be sure to kiss the chef on the way out as well, they appreciate it more than you think.


Tipping is, after all, gratuity at the end of the day. So act accordingly.

Restaurants are your friends


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