Saturday, October 27, 2012

Tipping Big in Latin-American Restaurants

O-h-h-h-h, my! I can image the surprise on the waiters face when he sees the 50% tip I left on the table at my favorite Mexican restaurant here in Oakland, CA---Mexicali Rose. I've been going to this restaurant for years, and in general, depending on the waiter or waitress, I generally leave nicer tips. I doubt if the any of the wait staff know why I leave larger tips. It's because they engage me in Spanish even though they may speak perfect English, such as the gentleman who waited on me today. It was only a $10.00 meal, and I searched my pockets to leave two or three dollars. When I noticed the smallest I had was a five, I said to myself, oh, squash it, and left him a five dollar tip.

I remember years back in San Francisco, I went into a Mexican restaurant, and the waitress was very nice when she approached my table. But when I ordered in Spanish, she responded loudly and indignantly in English as though something is inferior about the Spanish language. Her tone and demeanor sent a strong message to me that we are going to speak English. Needless to say, I did not tip her very well, if I tipped at all. I just don't remember for it was so long ago.

When I went home to New York City to visit, I made it a point to go into Mofongos, a Dominican Restaurant in the heavily populated Dominican community of Washington Heights, and was not only greeted with a smile, but in Spanish the minute I walked in the door. When I left, the waitress was extremely grateful for the tip I left, and I was grateful to her for giving me a lot of practice on my Spanish. I think everybody thought I was Latino in that restaurant. The background music of jazz, bachata, merengue, and salsa also contributed to my good mood.