- a blog about food and value

How much do you tip?

tippingTipping in Ireland is a bit of a minefield, and I’ve never quite got a handle on the tipping culture here.  I know in the US you’re expected to leave 20%, but servers’ wages are so much lower over there.  I usually go for around 15-20% in Ireland, unless the service stinks. I still have many questions, and would love to hear from customers and waitstaff alike:

  • What’s the correct percentage for good service, in your view?
  • How should you tip if one server is pleasant but another is rude, as happened to us in SoHo before Christmas?
  • Do many Irish restaurants still keep their tips and service charges rather than passing them on to staff?

Our reader Sarah got in touch with us to tell us a story of a cheeky tip incident in a Dublin bar/restaurant:

About six months ago a couple of friends had some food and wine in a central Dublin bar. After paying for the bill we waited around 15 minutes but didn’t get our €12 change back. I went up to the bar and was told that the waitress presumed it was a tip. €12! The total bill was only €30 something! I was disgusted and wrote an email of complaint the following day, but never heard anything back. I’d be interested to hear your views on tipping.

Do you have any tipping scandals to share with us?


  1. I really hate when places assume that all the change is their tip – it’s ridiculous. I also hate when restaraunts put a service charge on all tables (i know it’s common enough with large parties), if I see a service charge on a bill – I will not leave a further tip! They can’t assume that we were happy with the service!

  2. Given that the standard service charge applied on large group meals here is 12.5%, I’ll usually tip between 10 and 15%. I’ll tip in cash even if I’m paying for the meal with a card as I’ve heard tales of restaurant managers withholding card-added gratuities from their staff (although this never happened to me in my waitressing days!)

  3. I usually tip the service (therefore if its good i leave at least 10%, if its bad i leave nothing).
    However recently i was in the Dunne & Cresecenzi in kildare village. Service was good, food was good, coffee was great – bill came and my sister was sorting it so i took €5 out and left it on the table , however then we realised a service charge had been added! there were only three of us at the table and it was a strange amount of €2.30. So I picked back up my €5, as I hate service charges but especially in a place like that.

  4. I used to tip 10% (definitely no more) but I’ve lately cut back to 5%, and then not always either. Thankfully I’ve never had any waiter keep my change assuming that it was a tip.

    I immensely dislike service charges and only accept them in the case of large groups.

  5. I worked as a waitress in the US and in Ireland and i usually half the % for Ireland. So in the US if i would leave 20%, I’ll leave 10% in Ireland. I hate having a service charge included also, and I don’t see that a large group is a valid reason to have it included. I didn’t like it as a waitress either as I would always rather to get a good tip voluntarily.

  6. As above, I’d generally tip between 10 and 15 percent, even slightly more if the service was outstanding (boyfriend is American, so it’s often par for the course). If a restaurant has already included a service charge, I never tip, as it makes me incensed. It is, after all, meant to be discretionary. If service is appalling, and rude, I will tip way less, occasionally nothing at all, though they’d have to be downright obnoxious for that.

  7. It’s usually about 10% for me, if I’m happy with a meal and the service. And, as others have said, I hate a service charge being added on.

  8. 10% is what I usually go for. I wouldn’t ever tip more than 15%, and even then only if the service was outstanding. 20% is far too much as a) food and drink is overpriced as is, adding another 20% is daft and b) serving staff earn much better wages here than they do in the states by all accounts, so don’t always expect a tip.

  9. I have waitressed both here and in the states. In the states I was paid 9.50 an hour which is really not that low at all, and most people would leave 20%.

    I have a lot of friends in restaurants across Dublin and have worked in a few myself. I know for a fact that servers in Thunderroad Cafe get none of the 12.5% service on large parties, TGI Friday’s servers get half of the 10% service on large parties and none of the 5% service that is automatically put on every bill, Hard Rock Cafe servers get none of the 5% automatically on every bill and half of the 10% on large parties, Bad Ass Cafe I believe has 10% on every bill automatically and the servers get none, Captain America’s servers get 75% of the 10% put on large parties.

    Also, some places pool their tips. Best to ask your server. I know of a restaurant in Naas where the manager simply takes some 60/70% of the tips for himself and divides the rest up amongst the servers. Some places also pool tips and distribute them in the wages proportionate to the hours you’ve worked- I think this is unfair as certain hours are busier than others. In addition, I disagree with pooled tips as when I leave a tip, I am rewarding the person that has served me and I don’t want it going elsewhere. Some servers are better than others and make more money and it’s completely just.

    I think it is appropriate to put a service on large parties as, let’s face it, not everyone is polite enough to tip. Large parties can be hard work and can take up a full night of waiting- imagine getting nothing out of it? People take for granted how hard servers work, if a server can provide good service and be friendly they’ve definitely earned a gratuity. I’ve been painfully nice, quick and efficient to groups of 6 or 7 who, as there are not 8 of them, don’t qualify for service charge; MANY of these groups of 6 and 7 will run me ragged and leave nothing but a mess to clean up. Also, in a lot of european countries, service is included in the bill. In the case of large parties of foreigners it’s definitely better to add the service as they simply don’t know to tip. My worst nightmare is a flock of 16 year olds- they make messes, they jeer, they try and convince you they’re 18 so you’ll give them booze… when the bill comes they take HOURS to figure out who’s paying what and without a service, they would leave absolutely nothing.

    I tip both depending on the bill and depending on the quality of service. Get me my drink fast, bring me my food hot, check back on me to confirm all is well, smile, and don’t dally when I ask for the dessert menu or bill. I will reduce my tip if my server has made mistakes, such as misinforming me of an offer or misquoting a price or forgetting to bring me my side salad, and I lower the tip if when a mistake is made that is genuinely their fault (I know often the kitchen messes up) and they don’t apologise or own up to it. When I’m serving, If I forget something and the table reminds me of it, say mayonnaise or something, I’ll say “oh, I’m sorry, I completely forgot, let me grab that for you now”, then I go and get it and apologise again.

    Wow. Long rant. Sorry, just how I feel 🙂