Serious Eats

How Do You Split the Restaurant Tab with a Big Group?

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[Photograph: Robyn Lee

You're eating with a bunch of friends. (Good times!) The check arrives—time for the math-inclined friend to pull out his or her cell phone calculator. Before you know it, everyone just decides it's easier to split it evenly. Over on The Awl, they remind us of how annoying this situation can be, especially when you didn't order three Dark and Stormys or the designer burger, but end up paying for them.

Trying to figure out who owes what when the check comes--when Jenny, like, only got the roasted beet and goat cheese salad, but Freddy got some stupid $38 hamburger (THE MEAT IS FROM PAT LaFRIEDA, OKAY?!), but Jenny had three cocktails compared to Gabby's single glass of Pinot, so maybe Jenny actually owes more than everyone else, because those cocktails were $16 each (THE BARTENDER, EXCUSE ME, "MIXOLOGIST," USED ANGOSTURA BITTERS AND HAND-CHIPPED ICE, OKAY?!), but Franny says she owes less since she didn't even order an entree on her own, even though she definitely took bites from half the main courses at the table, which was super annoying (ugh, such a Franny move), and everyone went to a stupid liberal-arts college so no one has the math skills to properly figure this out, and, you know what, this totally isn't even worth the aggravation, the waiter looks like he wants to stab us with a salad fork, why didn't I sit at home and get a pizza delivered, I don't even really like you people!

The takeaway: Don't be the person who just throws down for food, without including tip or tax. Nobody likes that person! And we know who you are. If you're going to make the waiter split the $90 check nine ways, leave a nice tip. Because that waiter probably wants to kill you a little bit.

How do you usually handle this type of situation? Do you think it depends on the type of food, like family-style Asian as opposed to more individual plates that aren't as sharing-conducive?

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