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.


  1. I have to say not every Hispanic or Latino speak Spanish. Some people never learned it because they were trying to assimilate more into an English speaking society. They went to school and English is what they spoke. They may have been born to people who have been living in the United States longer than 3 generations and started to lose their Spanish dialect.

    1. Over the years, I've learned the hard way that many Latinos in the US don't speak Spanish. In fact, I'm working on a blog post about watching my own prejudice when it comes to this.


Anonymous comments will be ignored and deleted.