Keith Lee is arguably one of the most viral names in TikTok food coverage. Over the past seven months, he’s been on a “food tour” around the country, most recently hitting the San Francisco Bay Area and leaving early after a bad experience with some seafood. He’s been to several cities, including Houston, New Orleans, and Atlanta — the last of which was full of dramatic reveals about bad experiences that Eater Atlanta called a “takedown” of the city’s service industry.
To back it up, if you’re not already aware of the Keith Lee TikTok phenomenon, he’s a former MMA fighter turned food influencer with just shy of 16 million followers. He goes to locally owned businesses, primarily mom and pop spots, to try the food, with some rules. He always buys his own food, tries not to be recognized (usually by sending a family member in for him), and shoots his reviews in his car while eating. And while his knowledge of food isn’t exactly deep (he frequently flails for words to describe what he’s eating), it is enthusiastic. He is known for freeze-framing or slow-mo shots of his face in an awkward moment of pure enjoyment.
Lee is making some changes to his food tour in Dallas on TikTok, including adding categories of restaurants — one is the “target audience” of spots with good food and service but need help marketing themselves to a bigger audience. Basically, giving love to floundering family-owned restaurants. The second will be “local favorites” that are picked through voting in a poll on his Instagram stories (it was not live at press time). And the third is diversity, choosing from various cuisines and restaurants owned by folks of different ethnicities.
Food Tour Improvements & Annoucement Dallas Tx we’ll see you soon #foodcritic♬ original sound - Keith Lee
Lee accepts nominations via comments and DMs for family-owned restaurants to visit and announced in his TikTok that the same goes for restaurants of diverse backgrounds.
Comments so far on his Dallas post are suggesting Terry Black’s Barbecue from several folks who don’t realize it’s an Austin joint that came to Dallas, Cris and John’s, Mike’s Chicken, Val’s Cheesecakes, Pangea in Garland, Aunt Irene’s Kitchen, Hurtado Barbecue in Arlington, and specifically for him to try the Texas Twinkie at Hutchins BBQ. There are also several calls for him to visit Carrollton’s Korea Town. I can’t wait to hear about driving all over the Metroplex and see how Dallas and this new judging method stack up.