A Guide to Tipping at Restaurants in Mexico

Tipping your waiter is very important after enjoying a restaurant meal in Mexico

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In Mexico, the tipping culture is nearly identical to that in the United States and tips will be expected. Tips should be given to everyone from the gas station attendant to the windshield washer to porters and waiters. Because Mexico's government-mandated minimum wage is one of the lowest in Latin America, tipping is an accepted norm in the country. 

One thing to be aware of when dining out in Mexico is that it's considered rude for the waiter to bring the bill before the customer requests it. The waiter will bring out food and let you leisurely enjoy your meal. Once you are finished, you must ask for la cuenta (the bill) or make a hand signal like you are writing a check. 

As a general rule, you should tip 15 percent for good service at any restaurant. However, tipping expectations do change slightly depending on where the restaurant is. Here are some guidelines to help you figure out how much to leave behind.

All-Inclusive Resorts

Although some hotels might announce an official "no tipping" policy, you'll find that tipping is a common practice at most other resorts. Sometimes a resort might have a no-tipping policy, but this does not apply to all the restaurants at the resort. To be sure, ask the front desk when you check in about their tipping policy. If you plan to tip, bring along small United States currency, such as $1 or $5 bills. In general, $100 should be sufficient for tips for an entire week.

High-End Restaurants

At high-end restaurants in Mexico, you should leave between 15-20 percent of the meal. Many restaurants include a 16 percent federal value-added tax, written out as IVA. You can use the IVA as a shortcut for figuring out how much to tip by simply matching the amount and maybe rounding up if you were happy with the service.

Occasionally, if you have a large group, restaurant tips will be included in the bill. Always check the bill to see if service is included or if the restaurant has made any errors in calculation.

Casual Restaurants

At a casual restaurant, like a small family-owned eatery, tipping is not always essential. However, it's nice to round up a little bit or leave a tip of about 5 percent.

Food Stalls

Whether you're grabbing a taco or some grilled corn, it's not necessary to leave a tip at a food stall. However, you could leave few pesos to show particular appreciation for the food or the cook if you would like.

Bars

For every drink, you should leave about $1-2 dollars or 20-40 pesos for the bartender. If you're running a tab, leave about 15-20 percent of the total bill.

Tipping in Dollars

Although Mexican pesos are preferred, you can sometimes tip in American dollars when you're visiting a particularly touristy area. If you tip in dollars, tip only in bills and not in change because the casa de cambio (changing bank) will not issue pesos for American change. In non-touristy areas, tip only in pesos because the nearest casa de cambio may be many miles away.

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