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Feb 5, 2008 05:22 AM

Tipping while eating at the bar in NoVa/DC/MD

I apologize if this belongs on a different board but couldn't find any other post like this.

After many years of overtipping, I want to ask fellow CH's what is an acceptable tip when eating at the bar of a restaurant. I've put too many incompetent servers through college with the money I've let behind as a tip.
I'm a single male who eats out 95% of the time at a variety of price levels. From a Ruby Tuesday's to a Proof to Dixie Bones to Il Forniao.
When you only have a bartender most of the time serving everything, and in this area the service is possible the worst I've experienced in my 27 years of world traveling and dining, what are accetable levels of tipping for poor, fair, good, and great service???

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  1. poor, fair, good, and great = 0, 10, 15, 20-25%, respectively

    1 Reply
    1. re: jfood

      The same as at a table. 20%-30% for good to great, less if rude, inconsiderate or indifferent.

    2. Depends on the overall price of the meal; if it's really cheap bar food or diner fare, I tend to tip higher. I usually automatically do 20% because it's easier for me to calculate (meal x 2 = tip); if the service is atrocious, I tell the manager and never come back.

      1. I eat at bars a lot and treat it basically as I would a normal table, sort of. Typically I tip bartenders $1 per drink (that's the common practice in most places around here) so if there's not an actual tab being built up I'll tip as I usually do on the drinks and then tip on the food as I would at a normal table.

        So I'd say what you'd normally do, for most folks (ie not cheap or rich) that seems to mean 15-20% unless something is noteworthy in a good or bad way.

        1. What jfood said, 15 to 20% just like at a table. If it's the worse service you've experienced in 27 years of dining, then I'd go down accordingly.

          Someone tips 30%?! Wow that's very generous.

          1. Tip as you would at a table, 15-20% for good service. If the service is terrible, go ahead and tip accordingly. Just don't plan on going back to that bar. Bartenders remember customers more easily than servers do, since you are right in front of them the whole time.

            4 Replies
            1. re: mojoeater

              Thanks for everyone's advice-I've always tipped 20%+ at the bar and some people told me that was too much for just eating at a bar, especially if the food and wine was on the expensive side. Said the waiters and waitresses have to shuffle all over the restaurant and back and forth for drinks while a bartender is just pouring drinks and usually the meal is brought out by someone else.
              20% on $10-12 wine and $10 apps and $25 entrees at a bar seem a little steep.
              After all the years of eating out and so much money left behind, not sure why it's been bothering lately. Maybe the constant poor service is finally getting to me.
              Thanks again to all.........

              1. re: LoveFood2Much

                One of the reasons I like to eat at bars is excellent service. You must be picking the wrong ones. I wouldn't return to a place where the service was poor.

                We tip as jfood does and always include the estimate cost of any comped food or drink in our tip. That does bring it over 20% at times .

                1. re: BostonZest

                  One thing I do with comped stuff (although this is more when I'm paying as I go, or close to it - instead of racking up a full tab) is to end up tipping about 2/3 to 3/4 of the amount of the actual item. I figure that way both the bartender and I win in the deal (in that I'm still paying less than I would have, and they've got more money and an incentive to keep comping me).

                  1. re: jgg13

                    I do this as well. There are two places locally where we get comped a lot.....the majority of our drinks and much of our food. We tip 60-75% on the value of what we were comped and 20% or so on what we were charged. For instance last Sunday our tab was $36....we tipped $40. We had been comped 2 mixed drinks and three glasses of wine.