Tipping Etiquette in New York Restaurants

Written by Jim Belt in Restaurant

Understanding the tipping culture in New York City is key to ensuring you navigate the bustling restaurant scene with ease and respect. This guide covers tipping etiquette at NYC eateries. It tells you standard tip amounts for good service.

In New York restaurants, it is customary to tip between 15-20% of the total bill, with 20% being common for good service. For exceptional service, some may tip slightly above 20%.

Tipping Customs

Tipping not customary


  • Gratuity in NYC restaurants is typically 15-25% of the bill.
  • Tipping contributes significantly to the income of service industry staff.
  • Understanding tipping etiquette is essential for a positive dining experience.

Standard Tipping Rates Across Services

When dining or traveling in New York, it's helpful to know the customary tipping rates to show appreciation for service received.

Service Category Suggested Tipping Rate or Amount
Restaurants 15% to 25% of the total bill
Bars (Cash) $1 to $2 per drink
Bars (Card) 15% to 25% of the tab
Hotel Porters $1 to $2 per bag
Housekeeping $2 to $5 per night
Concierge $5 to $20 depending on service
Taxis/Ride Services 10% to 15% of the fare

Restaurants and Bars

In restaurants, your tip should reflect service quality, typically ranging from 15% to 25% of your total bill. For exceptional service, lean towards the higher end. At bars, if you’re paying cash, it’s common to leave $1 to $2 per drink in the tip jar or 15% to 25% of the tab when using a card. Bartenders often share tips, so your gratuity is a significant part of their earnings.

Hotels and Accommodations

Hotels expect tips for various services. Porters usually receive $1 to $2 per bag they handle, whereas housekeeping should get $2 to $5 per night, which you can leave in a marked envelope or in the room. A concierge providing exemplary services, like securing hard-to-get reservations, warrants a tip of $5 to $20, depending on the difficulty of your request.

Taxi and Transportation Services

When taking taxis or other ride services, a tip of 10% to 15% of the fare is standard. However, if the taxi driver helps with luggage or navigates adverse traffic skillfully, tipping towards the higher end or rounding up the fare is a considerate gesture. It's your way of acknowledging their extra effort.

Calculating Tips for Various Scenarios

When dining out in New York, understanding how to calculate an appropriate tip for various situations can ensure that you're acknowledging the service as per local customs. From group dining to event-related meals, the tipping amount can vary.

Dining Situation Suggested Tipping Rate
Group Dining (6 or more) 18%-20% gratuity automatically added
Special Events/Restaurant Week 15%-20% of the original total bill

Group Dining and Large Parties

For parties of 6 or more, it's common to see an 18%-20% gratuity automatically added to your total bill. In New York, this practice helps to fairly compensate the service staff for the additional work large groups entail. Always check your bill; if gratuity is included, no additional tip is needed unless you experienced exceptional service.

Special Considerations During Events

During special events or Restaurant Week, tipping can be a bit different. Despite the possible set menus or promotional pricing, aim to tip 15%-20% of the original total bill. For luxury dining experiences where service is impeccable, a tip towards the higher end acknowledges the exclusive service received.

Adjusting Tips for Service Quality

Your tip should reflect the quality of service you've received. A guideline for regular dining situations is 15% for satisfactory service and up to 20% for excellent service. If you ever receive subpar service, it's appropriate to reduce the tip accordingly, but consider speaking to management as well to provide feedback.

Understanding Tipping in New York

Navigating tipping customs is crucial when you're enjoying the bustling restaurant scene in New York City. Knowing how much to tip for the service you receive ensures that you're following local practices and showing your appreciation appropriately.

The Basics of Tipping

When you receive a bill at a restaurant, tipping is a standard practice and should be thought of as an essential part of your total dining costs. For table service, a tip of 15-20% of the pre-tax bill is expected for good service, with 20% being common in upscale restaurants. At bars, tipping $1 to $2 per drink or 15-20% of the total bill if paying by card is customary.

In hotels, consider tipping the bellhop around $1-2 per bag they help you with and the housekeeping staff $2-5 per day. Even your taxi driver expects a gesture of gratuity, typically 10-15% of the fare.

Factors Influencing Tipping Amounts

Several factors affect the amount you should tip at a restaurant or bar. These include the quality of service you've received, the type of establishment, and whether you're dining alone or with a group. For exceptional service, or when dining at high-end establishments, it's good practice to tip on the higher end of the scale. If a service charge is automatically included in your bill, which can happen with larger parties, no additional tip is typically necessary. However, if the service goes above and beyond, adding a little extra is a generous gesture that acknowledges the staff's effort.

Specific Service Providers and Tipping

When you're out and about in New York City, tipping can be a little tricky. Don't worry, here's a quick guide to help you navigate who to tip and how much.

Beauty and Personal Care Services

In hair salons and spas, a tip of 15-20% is the norm for your hairdresser. It's appreciated if you also give a few dollars to the assistant who assists during your appointment. At a nail salon, tipping 10-15% for your manicurist is customary. If you're particularly pleased with the service, feel free to tip on the higher end.

Tour Guides and Related Services

Whether you're exploring the city by foot, bus, or bike, your tour guide or tour bus driver deserves a tip for their effort and expertise, typically around 15-20%. It's a small gesture that acknowledges their hard work in making your experience memorable.

Delivery and In-Home Services

For food delivery, a tip between 10-15% of the order total is standard, with a minimum of a few dollars if the order is small. When it comes to ride-share services like Lyft or Uber, the app allows you to add a tip after the ride. About 10-20% of the fare is widely acceptable, depending on the level of service. Housekeepers and maids should also be tipped for their services; a rule of thumb is $2-5 per day, especially if you're staying at a hotel or using a cleaning service at home.

Handling Tipping in Unusual Circumstances

When dining out in New York City, you might find yourself in situations that differ from the standard dining experience. In these cases, consider adjusting your tip to acknowledge the unique circumstances.

Inclement Weather and Tipping

When the city is hit by heavy rain or a thick blanket of snow, remember that your waitstaff and delivery persons are working harder to provide the same level of service. It's considerate to tip above the standard 15-20% during these times. A little extra goes a long way to show appreciation for their effort in challenging conditions.

Holiday and Peak Season Tipping

The holidays and peak tourist seasons can be exceptionally busy times for restaurants near JFK or in the heart of Manhattan. This often results in longer hours and increased workload for the staff. Acknowledge their dedication by tipping generously, especially since they contribute to your festive enjoyment and maintain service quality despite the rush.

International Visitors and Tipping

If you're an international visitor, navigate New York's tipping culture with ease. Generally, tips are not included in the listed price, and there's no sales tax on tipping. It's typical to add a 15-20% tip to your bill in appreciation for good service, which is a bit more than the budget options where tipping might be on the lower end or voluntary. Tipping isn't merely courteous; it's a vital part of the income for many service professionals in NYC.

The Impact of Tipping on Income and Service

In New York, tipping at restaurants is more than a social convention—it's a significant component of service workers' livelihoods and can influence the quality of service you experience.

Economic Considerations for Tipping

When you dine out in New York, tipping is an economic lifeline for many service employees. Your tips contribute directly to their income, often making up a substantial part of their earnings due to the tip credit system. This system allows employers to pay less than the minimum wage, as tips are expected to make up the difference to meet or exceed the minimum wage. For example, service employees in New York might have a lower hourly cash wage because of the anticipated additional income from tips.

Tipping and Quality Service Relationship

Your experience at New York restaurants is often directly related to the level of service provided. Workers know that better service can lead to more generous tips, which incentivizes them to create a positive dining experience for you. While not a strict rule, a waiter providing exceptional service is often rewarded with a tip above the customary 15-20% of the total bill. This tipping in New York guide illustrates that consistently good service might even earn service staff a little extra, further reinforcing the link between income and quality service in the service industry.

Published: 17-01-2024

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