Your Guide to Tipping in New York City

Your Guide to Tipping in New York City

Welcome back to our series. “You asked, we answered,” where we address your inquiries. Today, we have an informative guide on tipping etiquette in the vibrant city of New York. So Let us dive right in.

Vanessa, a visitor from Denver, has asked us about tipping in various settings during her weekend trip to New York City in June. She expressed her gratitude for the valuable recommendations found on our website and sought clarification on tipping practices for restaurants, hotels, and transportation services like yellow cabs. Vanessa, we are here to help you.

Please continue reading our comprehensive Guide to Tipping in New York City.

Frequently, I come across questions like, “Is tipping necessary?” And “What is an appropriate amount to tip?” Moreover, many wonder why restaurants include automatic gratuity, especially when dining alone.

In our comprehensive guide on tipping in New York City, I will delve into these inquiries and provide valuable insights. Also, I will be sure to cover various related aspects to help you navigate tipping etiquette.

How I Learned the Art of Tipping Well.

From an early age, I inherited a strong tipping ethic from my father. He possessed a knack for tipping generously; wherever he dined, servers would compete to attend to him. Curiosity got the better of me one day when I was around 11, and I asked him about the phenomenon.

Perplexed, I questioned, “Why are they always eager to serve us?”

My father imparted a valuable lesson, saying, “When someone treats you kindly and with respect. Or goes out of their way to do something nice for you, it’s important to express your appreciation. These individuals work tirelessly to ensure our visit is enjoyable, yet their compensation is minimal. Many of them struggle to provide for their families. By leaving an additional sum of money —more than the bill requires — we demonstrate our gratitude, which means a lot to them.”

That conversation stayed with me throughout the years, even as we moved from Guyana to a bustling neighborhood in Brooklyn. The only change was that tipping practices became more standardized. Interestingly, the percentage of gratuity we offered in Guyana far exceeded what was considered customary when I arrived in New York. Nonetheless, I remained committed to tipping the best I could, drawing on my experiences and fabricating stories about the servers and their families during my high school lunches at local restaurants.


Question: Should I tip?

The act of tipping is indeed important, regardless of the type of service you receive. It serves as a tangible way to express appreciation for the efforts made on your behalf. Even though service quality may vary, leaving a tip as a gesture of gratitude is still customary.

I firmly believe that this principle extends beyond traditional dine-in experiences to include take-out orders. Remember, while not all services are equal, tipping remains a meaningful way to acknowledge and show appreciation for the service provided.

Question: How much should I tip?

Tipping practices have evolved, and it is worth considering a higher standard than the traditional 15 percent. At the same time, 20 percent is often considered a generous tip for dining at a restaurant. It should have been the standard long ago. This shift in perspective has come about through conversations with friends working in the service industry, who have shared the embarrassingly low wages they receive. It has become apparent that many restaurant staff members are grossly underpaid.

Additionally, it is disheartening to discover that most restaurants do not provide complimentary meals to their staff, forcing them to purchase their own food. This realization struck me when I encountered servers who could not provide detailed descriptions of certain menu items because they had never tasted them. To make matters worse, some establishments deduct taxes from the gratuity when left on credit cards. [Maybe it is a legitimate tax thing happening here, but I have not looked into it.]. So consequently, I have made it a practice to carry cash for tipping, ensuring that my appreciation reaches deserving individuals directly.

So What Should you tip?

When enjoying a meal out at a restaurant, I suggest tipping between 20-30 percent of your bill. However, tipping beyond this range is always warmly welcomed and could noticeably improve the livelihoods of service industry employees.

Tipping abundantly shows appreciation for staff members’ commitment and hard work to cater to customers’ needs. Therefore, if feasible for you financially, extending beyond average tip amounts will positively impact these hardworking individuals.

As a solo diner, why are Restaurants including Built-in Gratuity?

While I have mixed feelings about built-in gratuity, I can see why some restaurants have adopted this practice. It is an automatic charge added to your bill, usually around 18-20 percent, varying by the establishment.

Initially, built-in gratuity was only for larger groups, but now it is becoming more common across restaurants. Many places have even increased it to 20 percent, often presented as a “conveniently included” gratuity.

One issue I have with it is the lack of transparency. Restaurants should be upfront about it, but some still fail to disclose this information. This can catch customers off guard, especially those who do not dine out frequently. Ideally, restaurants should mention it on their menus and websites, like Sweet Brooklyn Bar, which informs customers during the reservation process.

While it is not obligatory, I choose to add an additional tip, but that is entirely up to you.

Mastering Tipping Etiquette: Tips on Food Delivery and Coffee Tips

Now that we have covered the commonly asked questions about tipping let us delve into other tipping practices worth exploring.

Tipping at a Bar.

When you find yourself at a bar, it is customary to show your appreciation by leaving a tip. Consider tipping at least $1 to $2 for beer. If you are enjoying a crafted cocktail, it is customary to tip between 20 to 25 percent.

By recognizing the effort and skill that goes into your drink, you contribute to a positive bar experience and acknowledge the bartender’s expertise.

Tipping for food delivery.

When you order food for delivery, it is important to remember the hardworking delivery workers. A good guideline is to tip a minimum of $6 or 20 percent of the order total, whichever is greater. And if the weather is bad, consider being extra generous.

Delivery workers are frequently classified as independent contractors, resulting in them not receiving a guaranteed minimum wage from their employers. Surprisingly, a recent survey revealed that app-based delivery workers often face challenging working conditions.

Shockingly, approximately 40 percent of these workers reported instances of being underpaid or not paid at all. To ensure that your tip reaches these workers directly, it is highly recommended to tip them in cash whenever possible. This approach accounts for past instances where tips have not consistently reached the hands of these hardworking individuals.

Tipping at a Deli.

When you visit a food counter, such as a deli counter, cheese shop, or a fast-casual lunch spot, where the employees do tasks like slicing ingredients or preparing a grain bowl for you, it is customary to tip — leaving leave a tip-ranging from 10 to 12 percent of the total bill. This gesture shows appreciation for the service provided.

Tipping for Take out.

For takeout from a restaurant, it is important to remember to tip the staff who prepare and handle your order. Even though it might not be a full dining experience, tipping at least 10 to 12 percent is a way to show appreciation for the service.

Takeout orders can disrupt the workflow of servers and hosts who rely on tips to make a living. So a small gesture of gratitude can go a long way in supporting them. Let us acknowledge their effort to ensure a smooth and enjoyable takeout experience.

Tipping for Coffee

In establishments like coffee shops and bodegas where hardworking baristas are present, displaying appreciation for their tireless efforts should be a top priority. Baristas exhibit impressive skills as they efficiently process orders like servers.

As their average salary in New York is marginally higher than minimum wage, tipping them at least 20 to 25 percent is highly advisable. Even if you have ordered a simple cup of Joe, leaving $2 as a tip demonstrates generosity on your part. A gracious gesture would likewise be tipping when purchasing unprepared items such as a bottle of water.

And there is more.

Tipping Cabs + Uber Drivers

When it comes to tipping Uber drivers and cab drivers, it is essential to show your generosity by tipping them at least 20 to 25 percent. Although the Uber app may give the impression that adding a tip is optional, it should not be overlooked.

There is a significant disparity in earnings between Uber drivers and taxi drivers, especially considering Uber’s hefty cut of more than 25 percent from fares. Remember to recognize these drivers’ hard work and support them with a well-deserved tip for their exceptional service.

Tipping hairstylists, cleaners, et cetera.

Regarding various services, such as hairstylists, cleaners, waxers, facials, movers, cleaners, and more, it is customary to tip a minimum of 20 to 25 percent. Generally, it is appropriate to tip individuals providing you with a service. For those who offer regular weekly services, like house cleaners, the common practice is to tip annually. However, I prefer to show my appreciation by tipping after each service.

Coat Check: It is customary to tip $1 to $2 per coat when using a coat check service, but considering inflation, I suggest tipping $2 to $3 now.


Bellhops: Show appreciation to bellhops or porters by tipping $3 to $6 per bag they assist you with.

Housekeeping: Show appreciation for the dedicated efforts of the housekeeping staff by leaving a gratuity of $3 to $6 per day. You can either leave the tip daily or as a consolidated amount at the conclusion of your stay.

It would be best for you to consider the duration of your stay and make sure that the lump sum tip is equivalent to the daily amounts. This gesture acknowledges their hard work and provides fair compensation for their services.

Concierge: While not obligatory, it is thoughtful to tip concierge staff who go above and beyond to provide exceptional service. If they help secure difficult reservations or arrange special experiences, a tip of $7 to $20 is appropriate.

I read an article published in the New York Magazine, I believe after Covid, about Etiquette rules [I will try to find it and link it here].

Tipping is a customary practice across various service industries as it signifies acknowledgment of remarkable services provided by diligent individuals. Therefore, we must be conscious of the efforts of such frontline workers while deciding on appropriate tipping practices.

Through tips at restaurants, bars, coffee shops, or any similar establishment, we express gratefulness and encourage those that contribute immensely towards making our moments memorable. As such, when experiencing outstanding services next time, consider reflecting on your thankfulness with a substantial tip.

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply