Update: January 12, 2024, 8:23 a.m. On Thursday, January 11, amateur food critic and TikTok star Keith Lee announced that he was cutting his tour of the Bay Area short due in part to a severe allergic reaction that landed him in the hospital.
This is not a drill: TikTok food critic superstar Keith Lee is in the Bay Area. On January 4 the former MMA fighter and Detroit native let his millions of fans know he’d be on his way to the region. Before arriving, he doubled down on his plan to visit the Bay, saying he wasn’t worried about all the “Gotham City” energy San Francisco and Oakland draws online these days.
Lee’s approach to food reviews is a simple one. He asks diners in an area to let him know which mom-and-pop places to visit that don’t have the luxury of a public relations team to boost the restaurant. Then he visits incognito with family members going into the restaurant to pick up food that he then enjoys in the comfort of his car, rating items on a one to 10 scale.
As Lee makes his way through the Bay Area’s food scene, Eater SF will update this running list.
1711 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland
For his third stop in the Bay Area, Lee and his family headed to Mama T’s, a small spot owned by Teena Johnson in downtown Oakland. Lee spent a total of $35.65 on four items, including the restaurant’s signature offering. “This is what they’re known for, the famous fish sandwich,” Lee says, holding up a fried fish sandwich with ketchup, tomato, lettuce, and mayo on a buttered bun. “In my opinion, it’s not bad but this crust is extremely thick,” Lee says after taking a bite, adding that the strong grease flavor of the fish earned the sandwich a respectable 7.5/10. A side of seasoned fries fared better than the fries from San Francisco’s Double Decker; though he suspected these were “freezer fries,” the ample seasoning boosted them to 5/10. Mama T’s grilled chicken sandwich fared even better than the more famous menu offering. Lee gave the chicken sandwich a solid 8.5/10 in part because there was lots of juicy chicken and a “nice, sweet, tangy barbecue sauce.” But the real standout item was the homemade potato salad. “That’s the best thing I’ve had since I’ve been here,” Lee says after using a fry to scoop us some of the “pickle-forward” salad, which he grants a score of 8.7/10.
1575 7th Street, Oakland
Across the Bay Bridge on January 9, Lee headed to quesabirria and cobbler destination Chef Green, a street cart located in Oakland. For $27, he tried the chicken taco and praised it — awarding it 7.9 out of 10 — for its cheese and meat proportions. Lee noted that the taco was seasoned “almost to perfection,” though he knocked off some points for its greasiness. He felt the steak taco was similar in terms of the portions and seasoning, giving that taco an 8 out of 10. Lee also gave high praise to Green for cleaning the grill when Lee’s family told the chef about his shellfish allergy and for preparing all this deliciousness “out of a tent.” Lee’s wife even chimed in to give the steak taco a 9 out of 10.
2956 24th Street and 465 Grove Street
For his first stop in the city, Lee hit this lowkey burger operation and posted his review on January 8. He and his family spent $53.80 on two burgers, fries, and two types of chicken wings. The OG Burger was a hit for Lee thanks to proper seasoning, plus fresh lettuce and tomatoes, rating it a 7.7 out of 10. The fries only received a 3 out of 10 as Lee lets fans know in the video he’s picky about his potatoes. The Double Decker Burger has far more onion than the OG, in Lee’s perspective, and he lowered his rating of this sandwich to a 2 out of 10. (His cousin gave it an 8.5, so the critic chalked it up to a difference in taste buds.) On the wings front, the sweet and sour version got a solid 5.5 out of 10 while the buffalo wings weren’t crispy enough for Lee and only garnered a 3 out of 10.