How Much To Tip In NYC: Our Definitive Guide

by Chiara Atik · October 26, 2010

    Your morning coffee, your cab ride to work, your lunch delivery, your dinner out, and your late night drinks--it's hard to do anything in New York that doesn't require tipping. So how much should you be leaving on top of your bill?-

    Golden Rule Of Tipping: When In Doubt, Tip More

    We're huge believers in karma here at GofG. If you're ever in a position where you're unsure of how much to tip, (or uhm, maybe the math is too complicated, not that that ever happens to us...), go ahead and leave more. There's nothing wrong with erring on the side of generosity.

    At A Restaurant

    Really sorry to do this, but we're gonna go ahead and say 20% of the total bill.  I know, I know you want to cling to 15%. But we're about to enter a new decade, prices have gone up everywhere, and 20% is a square deal for waitstaff who need to pay exorbitant rent.

    Make sure you figure out the 20% on the pre-tip amount...just doubling the tax will often cause you to under tip.

    A good math trick is to simply drop the last zero in the pre-tax amount, round up, double it, and then round up again.

    At A Seat-Yourself Chain (Like Quiznos or Cosi or Chipotle...)

    At these types of places, how much you tip really does depend on the service. If they've been especially accommodating or friendly, you can leave a couple bucks, but otherwise anything you want to leave in the tip jar will be appreciated.

    At A Coffee Shop

    It depends on what you order! If you're getting an iced coffee, iced tea, or something that simply requires the server or barista to pour or hand you something, you can probably get away with not tipping, or, if you're feeling generous, leaving whatever change you get back in the tip jar.

    If you're ordering an espresso drink, or even something that requires heating up, a dollar per drink is fine.

    If you're going to pick up an order for multiple people, or any of your orders are especially complicated, you should probably leave 10% of the total.

    If the server is really really cute, you should leave your number.

    At The Bar

    If you're ordering a glass of wine or beer, tip $1 per drink.

    If you're ordering a mixed drink (even something as simple as Vodka Soda), tip $2. (Not saying we always adhere to this, but technically it's customary.)

    If you're ordering anything that requires muddling or grinding or squeezing or lighting anything on fire, tip $3 per.

    In A Cab

    If your fare comes out to under $10, tip $2.

    If your fare comes out to under $20, tip $3.

    If you're going to JFK, tip $20.

    If your driver has to wait for you for whatever reason, tip well! Ditto for multiple stops.

    If your cab driver takes the FDR Parkway when you told him not to, is generally mean and surly, goes in the wrong direction, or nearly kills you with his reckless driving, tip less.

    If your cab driver compliments you, talks poetically and beautifully about his native country, gives you some pointers on your love life/career, or listens to really, really amazing music, tip more.

    At Coat Check

    If the coat check is free, tip $1 upon reclaiming your coat, especially if they were accommodating with other parcels, scarves, miscellaneous stuff.

    If the coat check is not free, and especially if it's a whopping $4 (ahem, Hotel On Rivington...), do not feel pressured to tip! They've already robbed you.

    Food Delivery Men

    Unless you have a huge (and therefore heavy) order, you really don't need to tip based on what you got or how much you spent--a cursory $2 will suffice for most orders.

    Of course, if your order requires multiple bags, or precarious balance on a bicycle, tip closer to $10.

    And please! If it is raining, sleeting, snowing, hailing, or 100 degrees out, and you are ordering because you yourself don't want to venture outside, please please please tip a little extra!!

    Fresh Direct Delivery Men

    The Fresh Direct website says "you are under no obligation to tip but have the option of providing a nominal tip if you feel that you've received exceptional service."

    If you order enough food to require multiple trips, or live in a walk-up, we'd still recommend tipping $5.

    Furniture Delivery Men

    You made the trek to Ikea in the water taxi, but you're sure as hell not dragging your Kivik couch all the way back to your apartment. So you get it delivered.

    If you're getting one piece of furniture delivered, it comes in a box, and is relatively easy to get into your apartment, $5 tip is fine.

    If you're getting one piece of furniture delivered, but it's an extremely heavy and big item, which they have to somehow hoist up a tiny and narrow staircase, then you should tip $10-15 (depending on how hard they're sweating?)

    If you're getting an entire living room set delivered, and you feel they're burning thousands of calories to help you out, tip a generous, but no doubt appreciated $20.

    At The Nail Salon

    If you're getting a manicure, then $2 tip is generally fine. (This is based on a $10 manicure)

    If you're getting a manicure and a pedicure ($30-$50), $5-$10 tips are fine.

    If you get an extra massage at the end, tip another $2.

    At The Hair Salon

    Tip the shampoo girl (or boy! I've had boy! It was weird!) $5.

    Tip 15%-20% of the total bill, or if you have a separate stylist and colorist, tip them each 15-20% of their services.

    If you get a blowout only, tip $10.