How Do You Tip Valet Parking in Dallas?

The other night a friend of mine and I stood in line waiting for our cars at a valet stand. The charge to valet a car—in this case, a huge parking lot–was $5. This really chaps my sass. If a restaurant is going to offer the service of making parking easier for you, they should absorb the cost. Anywhoo, my friend notices the $7 in my hand and says, “You’re not going to tip him are you?” I said I was because I figured the guy running around all night is mainly working for tips while the parking service is sitting on a safe full of cash. She thought I was insane to pay over the charge.

So I ask you, dear Dishers. How do you handle tipping valet?


  • John

    Isn’t that like not tipping a waiter at an expensive restaurant? Your friend is cheap. Find your own parkign spot if you are not willing to pay a few dollars.

  • rubbercow

    ALWAYS tip the guy a couple of bucks. Good gawd…..

  • MCC

    Couple of bucks if the valet is “complementary” and if they have a fee, nothing. Your friend is spot on.

  • Well John, it’s more like not tipping the waiter after 18% has been added on the bill for gratuity. I see a fee valet as a “Mandatory Tipping” valet. I normally tip $3-5 — I’m not tipping on top of already being charged more than the normal transaction.

  • Keith

    Your friend is right, you are paying for the service already. If you do want to tip, keep it down to a buck.

  • George

    Were you on Henderson Avenue? I generally tip regardless, though I can’t stand most valet companies and their careless staff. My wife never tips if she has to pay a valet fee. I really dislike having to deal with valets when the restaurant is surrounded by a giant parking lot. It is an expensive inconvenience.

  • Margaret

    Depends. If it is a place I go to, say- once a week, I tip no matter what. Charge or no charge. Like a buck or two – if there is a fee.

    A place I don’t go to on a regular basis, if they charge- no tip.

    If free- I will usually give them 5 bucks.

    But I do hate the places that have no parking whatsoever— and then you have to Valet and they charge. Ugh.

  • Justin

    Do valet’s make a tipping wage like waiters or do they make the standard minimum wage? Regardless, if there is a mandatory fee then no tip but if it’s “complimentary” then 2 or 3 bucks tops.

    Overall I’m with the group that would rather not valet at all, my legs work fine thank you.

  • Beda

    I valeted a couple years ago for Fireside Pies, it was a dark and stormy and rainy night, and I commiserated with the parkers, that they weren’t going to make much, and one said something to the effect that it was alright, they got paid. So we may all be projecting that these parkers don’t get paid much.

    If a restaurant charges for valet, I don’t tip on top of the charge.

  • aria

    Complementary Valet = tip
    Charge for Valet = No tip

  • Drew

    I tip nothing if I notice them thrashing around in the cars they are parking.

    Otherwise, I’ll tip $5 for a free valet or $2-3 if there is a valet charge.

    Oddly, I often get the “You’re cheap” whether it’s the $5 tip for the free valet or $2-3 for the one that charges. Do they expect more?

  • dbc

    The restaurant often has nothing to do with whether the valet is free or charged, unless the owner of the building also owns the restaurant. Most of the time, the landlord decides the valet situation. And even though its a “huge” parking lot, if there are other businesses in the area they are alloted spots in the lot as well. Valets help to keep people from using the lots who aren’t frequenting the business.

    Restaurants rarely see a dime from the valet, usually if there is a fee it is split between the landlord and parking company. Valets themselves may make more hourly than restaurant employees, but they also rely a little on tips. If there is a fee and you don’t want to pay it, than I suggest parking farther away and walking. Otherwise, tip a buck or two.

  • Gipson

    @Drew, you mean you get the “You’re cheap” from the valet? I never tip more than $3 for valet, and I’ve never heard a “You’re cheap” or any condemnation at all.

    I tip $2-3 when there is no fee, and honestly I don’t know what I’d do for a valet with a fee. It never seems to come up. Anywhere I go that I feel compelled to use valet, they all happen to be no-fee valets.

  • Scott–DFW

    I guess the recession isn’t over, if the discussion at D is about whether it’s okay to stiff the valet, rather than how much one should tip the maitre d’.

  • No matter the tip, something that chaps my ass is restaurants who provide public parking spaces as required by the city’s building codes, then they place cones in them so the valet can drive 15 feet and park the car for you (Thanks?). Charging any money to basically stash my keys in a little wooden cupboard on a slow Tuesday night is crazy.

  • Justin


    If the valets aren’t making 2.13 an hour (or whatever the hourly is now for waiters) then they aren’t being stiffed. Can any current valets or people that know confirm valet pay rates?

    And when I go to a restaurant it’s reasonable to expect to be able to park your own car, it’s not reasonable to expect to go back to the kitchen and plate and deliver my own food, hence, tipping wait staff.

  • I’ve just spent $60 – $300 for dinner for two and I’m going to kvetch about tipping $3?!

    Wether they charge or not I’m not going to stiff a guy who is scurrying around making my life more convenient.

    However…. $15 in advance at House of Blues last Friday did gall. I still tipped when we left though. Walking down the steps to waiting car – priceless.

  • Twinwillow

    I never valet park. Never! I use handicap parking, Legally!

  • acrow

    Les Hall–the problem isn’t pay $3 on top a $60-300 meal, its paying $5-8 (plus tip?) on top of a $25 meal (at Hacienda on Henderson) for example, just to have your car parked in a relatively emptly lot 15ft from the door of the restaurant.

  • Mike

    @Drew, I pity the valet that calls me cheap when I give him money.

  • TruDat

    Complimentary Parking=$5 tip always; Valet w/Fee= usually 0-3 bucks depending on the set price, how nice they are, the weather, my mood…..

  • TruDat

    oops “complimentary valet parking”…

  • VM

    For complimentary always $5, if there is a fee $2. I’ve waited tables and that was hard enough, imagine running back and forth getting cars all night in August.

  • DSmith

    My friend works for Jack Boles Valet, usually at Ocean Prime and they get paid $2.50 an hour. Trust me they are working for their tips and that is what they rely on.

  • luniz

    you can tell if they are working for tips. if you can’t, then no i’m not gonna tip them.

  • MCC

    If they are getting tip wage, they’ll at least get minimum at the end of the day anyway. And that sounds about right to me. I know that may not be the most popular thing to say, but valeting is a minimum wage / minimum + $0.50 job.

  • Marcus

    I tip all valet employees that correctly and honestly report all of their wages to the IRS.

  • martha

    Valets do not get more than 50 cents per car (split among multiple guys) if there is a $5 charge to valet. The remaining $4.50 goes to the valet company. The $5 charge for valet is not going in the pocket of the restaurant, but rather goes to cover fees such as multiple permits with the city, taxes, expensive insurance, labor costs, etc incurred by the valet company. This $5 fee is not something that every restaurant can afford to absorb. It can cause a restaurant to have to pay out thousands a month in just valet charges. And, with the way parking is set up in Dallas, unfortunately it is necessary. To assume you do not need to tip is crazy!!! These guys run all night long and for you to not acknowledge a job well done is just plain rude!!!

  • Emily

    This is like stiffing the waiter because the steak cost too much! The valet makes $2.13 an hour. You people just spent plenty of money on dinner and can’t throw the guy a couple of bucks?!?

  • kp

    we paid $5 for the valet to literally reverse our car into a parking spot at park restaurant (on henderson). that guy did not get a tip. why do restaurants do that? its never busy when I’ve been there.

    I don’t tip for paid valet, only for complimentary.

  • Uppercase Matt

    No tip for fee valet, tip for complimentary valet. Except for the Winspear, I guess — I’ve prepaid for the valet parking, and feel like I ought to tip since I’m not handing over any money on the spot.

    For restaurants, though, it had better be a pretty fantastic place if the force me to valet. Generally, I just won’t give my business to any place that makes me turn over my car to some teenager.

  • Justin


    In light of learning that valets only make 2.50/hour I’ll probably re-evaluate somewhat my tipping, I always thought they made 8 bucks an hour.

    Still, I’ll continue to drop the wifey off at the door and then park an extra block or two away if I have to or just avoid certain restaurants if I can. Let me park my own damn car!!

  • macpad

    I avoid restaurants that have only valet available. I refuse to pay to valet when the restaurant monopolizes their parking lot for valet. If I do valet, I always tip. For most restaurants in Dallas, I truly do not understand charging for valet.

  • DDR, Esq.

    I think it depends on the situation. Hate it when my car is 8 feet away and they won’t give me my keys.

    Otherwise, I usually tip $5 when there’s no set charge. If there is a set charge, I consider a variety of factors before dropping more cash. But if it’s busy, the guys are hustling, they open my wife’s door, I frequent the establishment, I don’t wait around for a decade (a la the W Hotel), or the weather is lousy, I’ll pay as much as 2X more.

  • Gastronome

    Hey Uncle Nancy, please interview a couple of Valets and a Valet company (R P of R P Valet is well spoken) and give us the facts. I don’t want to stiff anyone, but my blood pressure does rise when “public” parking is non-existent. Add to that a mandatory fee and I begin the meal in a bad mood which probably causes me to not appreciate the food as much as I otherwise would. Lucky for them I’m not a food reviewer beginning the meal with my ass already chapped.

  • Beda

    Nancy, if you follow up on Gastronome’s suggestion (hope you do), please interview the valet service for Fireside Pies/Alma. It was their employee who gave me the impression that they make a decent hourly wage. And keeping in mind, as MCC says, this is a minimum wage job. I think it’s good that we all have enough conscience and caring that we do tip the parkers, knowing that they aren’t getting paid much and the dollars we tip will be more appreciated by them than be missed by us.

  • Allison

    The base fee pays for insurance and minimum wage for the valets when the restaurant doesn’t cover it. These guys are working for tips. If you don’t have extra for tip, you shouldn’t be valet parking.

  • DFWFoodie

    I’ve never been to a city with such terrible parking at restaurants (New York doesn’t count). When restos don’t have any other option to valet (which, let’s be honest, is most places in Dallas), I never tip if I have to pay a fee for valet…I will give $3-4 if it is complimentary.

    The worst is when they park your car 100 feet away from you, and you are still expected to pay a fee…so frustrating!

  • Charm Offensive

    FWIW, I have been told by a former valet NEVER to tip a valet when a fee is charged for the service. He was quite upfront that the valets manage to skim off the top.

    Just an anecdote for your SideDish eyes…

  • Twinwillow

    Valet parking on Henderson Avenue is akin to having a license to steal.

  • G. David

    In a former life, I hated valet in any form. Probably because I was just too cheap. Now, however, I’m all for it in certain circumstances – which basically means when it’s kind of a necessity. If there is legitimately no place to park, it’s a lifesaver. If it’s an artificially created need because the owners just block off their entire parking lot for valet (I’m looking at you Fish City on Henderson), I not only won’t valet, but I’ll generally find another place to eat.

    As for the free vs. pay question, I’ll never stiff a valet, even if he’s moving my car to a spot 26 feet from the door. But I’ll definitely tip more when the valet is gratis.

  • Matthew Maj

    I work for a fairly large valet company as a side job here in town. I mainly do private events but the company does manage parking at several restaurants in town.

    The guys working at the restaurants all make a wage similar to wait staff (under minimum wage). When there is a fee for parking, most people won’t tip. You tend to rely on regulars to make up the difference. I think a few extra bucks is deserved, especially if the service is good (aka adding onto a 15-18% gratuity at a restaurant).

    My only other peeve, why are so many people complaining about valets parking your car close to the building??? So you’re telling me you would rather us park it farther away with less security and will take us longer to run and get??? Regulars know to tip EXTRA so that they get the privilege of keeping their car close.

    Once again, it seems most people either have never had a tip-based job or just lack courtesy.