The Fork

The Fork: You need to tip your servers. Full stop.

Don’t want to tip? Don’t dine out.

The tipping conversation came up again in our little sphere, and it began to boil down again to that one old chestnut from the people who’ve clearly never worked in foodservice: tipping is about quality of service, some say; end of list; and there are countless diners out there who alter their tip percentages based upon their own little checklist of Dos and Do-Not-Dos. This would be easier to swallow had we not seen a twinkle in the eyes of the folks who act like withholding $2 is akin to engaging in brave political action, but we’re just here to remind you that tipping like a jerk is absurd, it’s boomer behavior and y’all need to get it together. Straight up? You need to tip your servers or you shouldn’t be dining out.

We wrote a piece about tipping in a COVID-19 world a few years back (in short, it was about how much we depended on foodservice people at the time and how it was a moral responsibility to be financially cool when possible), but this is more of an ongoing/aggregate topic that seemingly gets dredged up again and again, and we’d like to put a bow on this—and we speak as a former restaurant worker who is incredibly well-versed in foodservice from all conceivable angles.

We get that dining out is an experience; we get that dining out is not cheap; we get that it comes with certain expectations, especially when would-be diners are gearing up to spend their hard-earned money on what can (and should) be considered a luxury.

However, consider the following:

Servers are often paid the bare minimum to cancel out any taxes. We grant you, it’s been a minute since we worked in a restaurant, but we’ve gathered anecdotal evidence this week that suggests wages from the restaurants themselves are still roughly in that $2.35-$2.60 an hour ballpark from our time (which was also an era when you had to crank a car to start it). Servers depend on their tips to keep on living. We’d put a Shawshank joke here, but who has the energy?

Why is it your responsibility to help pay a businesses’ workers? Well, you can thank American history for that. You might want to know that the roots of tipping culture are, like so many things in America, rooted in racism. According to a 2019 Politico piece by Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, the practice began in Europe (where, interestingly, most restaurant workers do not make tips) but made its way to America where, in a post-Civil War world, it took off as a means for employers to not have to pay formerly enslaved workers. It spiraled out from there and has since been baked into foodservice in such an inextricable way that it would be borderline impossible for most restaurants to open in the first place without a tipping system. This is not your server’s fault. Hell, it’s not the owners’ fault, either, though we’d like to be clear that we have a little saying around the Forktress of Solitude: “Workers forever, owners...well, we like them less than the servers.”

“Why don’t restaurants just pay better wages, then, and up their prices? We’d pay a little more!” you might have just said to yourself—y’know, like a liar. Grrrrl, you can’t even tip a lot of the time, and if you do, you do so begrudgingly. Don’t even get us started on those people who don’t even want fast food workers—who most often work without tips—to make a living wage. Besides, restaurants have tried to go that way. Spoiler alert? It didn’t work, not even at all. Take celebrity chef David Chang’s Momofuku Ko in New York City, which dabbled in a tipless system in 2022. The result? It totally flopped, according to the Employment Policies Institute. That story contains a few other instances of similar experiments, and you know what else? NYC restaurateur Tom Colicchio of the eatery Craft ultimately said servers would need to make around $55 an hour to approach the benefit of tips. Anyway, if you’re wondering what happened to that David Chang joint, it closed down forever last year. Craft is totally still open, though.

You might also like to know that servers themselves often oppose a no-tip system. A proposed bill that wended its way through the state Legislature in 2019 was set to up the minimum wage in New Mexico, including for tipped servers. This bill would have also done away with a provision known as the tip credit, which allows employers to count a percentage of their workers’ tips as paid wages. It’s complicated, but suffice it to say that tip credit is how many restaurants manage to stay afloat. Well, restaurant owners didn’t much like that, nor did a lot of servers, and everyone across the state fought about it the whole time. SFR even spoke to a local foodservice worker at the time who explained the keep-them-tips position (read that here). In the end, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham totally signed the bill to up minimum wage but left the tip credit alone, which at the time resulted in restaurant worker wages going from $2.13 an hour to $2.35. We haven’t heard a thing about doing away with the tip credit since then, so we consider the matter...well, not closed, but dormant, maybe? Like a volcano.

What if you had a rough day at work and didn’t perform your very best for any number of reasons, so you just plain got paid less? That would suck, right? Yeah, it would. Not only that, but every server you’ve ever met has worked sick, not had access to healthcare, stayed late on a holiday while all y’all laughed and cavorted over a third bottle of wine and endured the abuse of countless folks who feel like it’s their job to dole out etiquette lessons over a few lousy bucks.

Do you want to be that person? Look, most owners and chefs don’t go into the biz because they think they’ll make a ton of money— they do it because they got a busser job in high school, developed a love for cocaine and just kind of never left. We kid. They do it out of a passion for service and quality food. OK, maybe there’s something to how restaurants often employ inexperienced youths who can then transform their experiences into careers, but the point remains the same: tipping is part of the deal, and if you can’t get it together to do that, make yourself a sad little sandwich at home and stay there. Everyone else is just bummed out by your shit. And in case you’re wondering? They totally remember you when you return and, since you set a low-tip precedent, don’t be shocked if you get bare-minimum service forever.

Money don’t get everything, it’s true, but what it don’t get we can’t use.


  • Legendary Santa Fe shaved ice biz Rainbow Snow is back, this time in kiosk-on-the-Plaza form. We just thought you should know that going into summer. We like the one called Tiger Blood and assume there is no real blood in there.
  • Also cool? Incoming taco spot Escondido from chef Fernando Ruiz finally has an opening date—Monday, July 1. Interestingly, too, Ruiz’s new project comes with tiered/named memberships. Hang tough for the next bit, because it’s a lot of information: The memberships include the Blanco ($100 a year for 10 percent off all food for your party); the Joven ($500 a year for the 10 percent plus early access to so-called “elevated and immersive dinners” according to co-owner and former Meow Wolf CEO Vince Kadlubek); the Reposado ($1,000 a year for the 10 percent, those immersive dinners, an annual dinner for four on the house and a special chef’s bite for every visit); and the Anejo ($5,000 a year for that 10 percent, those immersive dinners, that free yearly dinner for four, the special bite and an annual private dinner with Ruiz). Word is there are only 50 spots available for the top tier membership, but we’re not sure we personally know anyone with an extra $5,000 for taco purposes. As always, visit the website for more info and/or call ahead. Why all the membership hubbub, though, right? Well, friends, it would seem that exclusivity vis-a-vis memberships at restaurants has become quite the trendy thing of late. Just look to recent pieces in The New Yorker and The New York Times to see what we’re talkin’ about. OK, so that stuff is going down in New York City, but still—it’s a thing, man, it’s happening, it may already be too late!
  • The Santa Fe Farmers’ Market kicked off its summertime Tuesday markets in the Railyard earlier this week, and you know what that means—if you can’t go on Sunday, maybe try Tuesdays (8 am-1 pm through December). Totally radical!
  • We hear that after SFR’s Restaurant Issue dropped a couple weeks back, droves of new and returning Baked & Brew patrons are hitting the Midtown bakery to inquire about whether owner Kate Holland is indeed going to start making more bread like she suggested to SFR. Holland tells us she totally wants to do that, so keep an eye out.
  • Chef Dakota Weiss’ much-ballyhooed Catch Poke eatery on Marcy Street will soon get rolled up into her other project—the totally bitchin’ Capital Coal Neighborhood Eatery on Guadalupe Street. The last day of Catch Poke’s Marcy Street service? May 24. And did SFR Culture Editor Alex De Vore win first place in the Arts & Entertainment and Food News and Feature category at the Society of Professional Journalists’ Top of the Rockies awards just recently for the story he wrote about Weiss, her partner Rich Becker and Capital Coal last year? You bet he did. In case you hadn’t heard, Capital Coal is a micro-concept food hall kind of thing with myriad options like French dips, salads, Korean fusion, sweets, charcuterie and, soon, poke.
  • Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen is reportedly getting into the live music game. Yeah, the Cordova Road spot has one show on Thursday, May 9 (that’s the day this Fork drops, sorry if you missed it) with local acoustic rock act Fugitive Colors. Also? They have chips and margaritas and beers stuff. And by “they” we mean the restaurant, not the band.
  • Upper Crust Pizza is hiring for its location in the Eldorado subdivision, so if you’re a high school-aged person, a pizza fan or, as employees from the downtown location would have us believe, a sweetheart/metalhead, drop off a resume in person between 11 am-8 pm. Don’t call them. Don’t write them. Show up. Prove you can do that first thing, then we’ll see.
  • Speaking of bread and cheese, the Deli at Sassella (being the deli that opened at chef Christian Pontiggia’s fine dining restaurant Sassella—so, yeah, it’s, like, a pretty good name) has gotten into the flatbread game. You can reportedly order them hot and ready, or get ‘em cold and bake them at home. What’s the difference between pizza and flatbread? There is literally no difference whatsoever in any conceivable way at all, in perpetuity throughout the universe, forever and ever, amen. For the love of Satan, though, call Sassella first if you have questions or concerns about flatbread.
  • Executive Sales Manager and whiskey lover Brian Dvoret from spirits importer Impex Beverages is slated to stop by Arroyo Vino on Saturday, May 11 for a seminar on whiskey/tasting of, uh, whiskey. Reservations are required (call the restaurant via the link above) and the tickets run $25 per person—BUT, if you buy $75 worth of stuff from the tasting, they’ll credit it back to you.
  • Also, if it’s more spirits you seek, be aware tickets are dwindling for events during New Mexico Cocktail Week (June 1-8), so if you’d like to do any of those things, hit this link and get you some.
  • Speaking of drinking, wine brand Gruet’s Santa Fe tasting room is getting into the spirit of lovin’ on teachers for Teacher Appreciation Week, and that includes buy-one-get-one wine flights and 15% off for teachers. You’ll need some sort of ID, so don’t get any big ideas, everyone else. The deal is available to teachers through May 12.

Gruet staff to you if you try to get a teacher’s discount without being a teacher.

More Tidbits

  • S. Martinelli & Company is recalling an ass-load of its Martinelli’s Gold Medal Apple Juice across 30 states due to elevated levels of inorganic arsenic. New Mexico is not on that list just yet, but we know people travel, so please be careful. Learn more here. We loved Martinelli’s when we were just a young Forkling, and not least of all because those smaller bottles are shaped like apples.
  • Whether you love mushrooms already (or just need a good reason to get into them), a piece about their health benefits from US News & World Report has information in all the right places. Our take? Mushrooms are so good, we would like to eat them. You should also eat them, but don’t if you don’t like them. Mushrooms for some, miniature American flags for others.
  • Tasting Table-dot-com has a kooky little idea going that sparkling wine and scrambled eggs mix to make the fluffiest eggs around. Of course, everything wet mixes with everything else wet (not counting whatever metal scientists from the future use...or are going to use, make the T-1000), but we were skeptical. Apparently seltzer water works, too. And though we’ve yet to try this terrifying concoction of things, we’re gonna link to the story and see if any of y’all might try it.

A totally scientific breakdown of The Fork’s correspondence

In this week’s print edition of SFR, we learn why everyone freaking out about menu changes at the venerable Canyon Road eatery The Teahouse needs to chill the eff out.

Meanwhile, our readers this week are so excited that we got an air fryer. They’re almost alarmingly excited. OK, you know what? We’re scared by how excited these people seem to be.

Number of Letters Received: 39

*Y’all like air fryers, huh?

Most Helpful Tip of the Week (a barely edited letter from a reader):

“Just hope you aren’t poisoning yourself with PFAS from the non-stick surface. Aaaacccckkkkk, sorry to start the proverbial rain on your crispy parade.”

*We dunno, Reader E Z. (which are crazy initials unless you’re cruisin’ in your ‘64), but we feel like you totally DID want to rain on our crispy parade!

Actually Helpful Tip(s):

“I can air fry a whole cauliflower or salmon filets straight from the freezer. I can cook just a couple of cookies or TJ’s almond croissants without heating up the big oven. And it’s the best way to reheat leftover pizza. I don’t even have to preheat the thing.”

*Oh, great, reader Suzanne S.! Now we have to do these things, dang! Other readers suggested fried pickles and tofu (not together), and we’re totally into it.

“I purchased the Ultimate Air Fryer Perfection cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen and have enjoyed many meals using our ‘toy.’ Last night it was crab cakes. I have cooked wonderful steaks, pork chops, lamb chops and hot dogs in the fryer. Asparagus, Brussels sprouts and carrots are wonderful.”

*We were worried for a moment you’re on an all-chop diet, Meredith S., but that asparagus sounds good as heck!

“Thanks for the validation since I am obsessed with my air fryer! You failed to mention how fast it is! Only two minutes to preheat and one can cook salmon in eight minutes. It literally is the best invention ever.”

Y’know, dearest Suzanne W., when we stopped contemplating how many Suzannes apparently read The Fork, we listened to the song “Susanne” by Weezer (here’s a link) and wondered why there are so many spellings for a name that should clearly contain a Z. Then we thought about your comments and weighed them against everyone on the SFR staff who told us no one would ever want to read about air fryers. We sure showed them, Suzanne! Showed them straight to hell!!!!

Tipping early and tipping often,

The Fork

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