Should you tip more if you’re a gluten free diner?

Dining out on a gluten free diet usually goes one of two ways – either the waitstaff and kitchen are awesome and accommodating… or they have no clue what they’re doing and treat you like you’re a total pain in their collective butts. So, if the waitstaff and restaurant treat you well, don’t gluten you, and are helpful – should you show them the money?

The obvious first answer that comes to mind is a resounding YES! Of course you should show your appreciation to your server by giving them a larger-than-average tip.Usually I tip a standard 20%, unless the service is amazing (ie: they made something special just for me, gave a bunch of helpful suggestions, or just didn’t make me feel like I was a bother). Then I’ll go up to 25%.

However, sometimes I wonder if I’m actually being a pain, or if it’s all in my head. I’ve seen “regular” patrons at restaurants treat their servers like total crap, or make requests that seem to be more or equally as bothersome as asking about gluten free options.

So, should accommodating gluten free diners be considered “above and beyond”? Or just part of the job description for servers?

In general, I think if the server is average, you should tip them average. I consider average service to include: knowing what items on the menu are gluten free (or be willing to check with the chef), and then making sure the kitchen knows that your dish needs to be gluten free.

Anything more than that is a call for celebration – those servers know what they’re doing.

These are the type of things I tip 25% for:

  1. Making suggestions to make the meal great (“The dressing that comes on the salad isn’t gluten free, but this other one is. We can also add some nuts to replace the croutons.”)
  2. Offering equivalent substitutions (“The french fries aren’t gluten free, but we can substitute a baked potato, side salad, roasted vegetables, or chips.”)
  3. Being nice (“No problem, I’ll make sure the chef knows you’re gluten free.”)
  4. Getting into it (“My sister is gluten free! She loves the milkshakes here. Have you read this cookbook?”)

What do you think? Should we tip waiters more for “dealing with” gluten free diners?


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