Let me preface by saying that tipping, as such, in the US and Canada is messed up. There is no reason for businesses to not pay their staff to do their jobs. I shouldn’t be “expected” to supplement their employer’s miserly pay by tipping.
But, since that’s how it currently works, I want to share my philosophy of tipping when going out to eat. It’s pretty simple, really.
- for food: start at 20% of the base bill (not including taxes); minimum $1.50/person
- if you can’t afford to spend an extra $1.50 a person, stay home
- for drinks: $0.50 per beer or shot, $1 per mixed drink; minimum $1
- the simpler rule is $1 for every two simple drinks
- for mixed bills: getting close to 20% covers both previous criteria
- eg a base bill of $26.69 would be a $5 tip (20% is actually $5.32 – but when using cash, either leave a $5, or leave $5 plus the change)
- remember: the waiter likely has to share their tips with the bar tender
- add above and beyond for good-to-exceptional service