I just discovered that it’s customary to tip 15-20% of the pre-tax amount of the bill at restaurants in the United States. You may be surprised that I didn’t know that already. But the only part I didn’t know was the “pre-tax” part. I had always assumed it was on the total. It’s not.
My Rule-of-Thumb: $3 per $10 on the menu
Anyway, my standard rule-of-thumb still applies: I recommend paying $3 for every $10 that’s on the menu. That will pay for tax plus a good tip, rounded up a bit. I’ve created this chart that shows the actual numbers for some cities near where I live.
Although a 15% tip is considered acceptable, in larger metropolitan areas such as Southern California, a 20% tip is more standard. If you use my $3 rule, you’ll be tipping 12 cents higher than 20% on $10.
All of the cities in Orange County have a sales tax rate of 7.75% except La Habra. But even La Habra is cheaper than any Los Angeles County city. I recommend avoiding Pico Rivera and South Gate – they have the highest tax rate in the county. Maybe the whole state. Punish them for it by not eating in restaurants in those two cities.
A side note: when I was looking up the tax rates, the list of cities in Los Angeles County appeared to Google to need translating: