.Keith Lee Comes to the Bay

Keith Lee, a prominent online food reviewer, cut his Bay Area family expedition short after an emergency trip to the hospital and half-a-dozen lackluster restaurant fumbles. 

“We didn’t just go to San Francisco and Oakland. We went to the Bay,” Lee said. “We went to trucks, we went to brick-and-mortars. And I personally wasn’t a fan of a lot of places that we went to.” 

Lee, a former professional mixed martial arts fighter, is from Detroit and now lives in Las Vegas with his wife, Ronni, and their two children. The Lee Family traveled the last couple years across the U.S. to little known and struggling restaurants and pop-up spots, rating them on a one-to-ten scale and posting the highlights. The Lees spent just a few days in the Bay before heading back out last week after a severe allergic reaction to a shellfish cross contamination sent Lee to Highland Hospital in Oakland.  

Lee said in a recap video he went to seven cities throughout the Bay Area on his trip, but chose to only highlight three businesses total: The Luxe Box and Chef Green’s in Oakland and Double Decker in San Francisco.

He enjoyed jerk lamb chops from Luxe Box and left a $2,500 tip. He rated the steak and chicken tacos from Chef Green’s high with an overall eight out of 10, leaving a $500 tip. And while he was not impressed with the wings or fries at Double Decker, he did rate the burger in the “high sevens.”

“Again, the people in the Bay were amazing,” Lee said. But he also pointed out that the rampant homelessness and tough economic conditions cut his family trip short, as he doesn’t recommend the region for tourists right now.

The popular San Jose Instagram page San Jose Foos put out a call out for local “mom and pops” spots without much media coverage in San Jose to highlight in the wake of Lee’s presence. Commenters recommended places such as Peter’s Bakery in Alum Rock, Sliders Burger on San Carlos, ToFoo Com Chay on Santa Clara Street, Jubba Somali Restaurant on Terner Way and more. 

Prominent Bay Area food reviewer by the name of GrubWitMike said the Bay “has got to do better,” because he said locals were recommending “bunk” and “boof ass spots” to Lee, who Mike said is the “number one food reviewer right now.” 

Lee said he decided not to post the half-a dozen other spots he tried because he and his family didn’t want to negatively impact the food he didn’t personally like, saying if he revealed the cities he went to, locals would be able to identify which restaurants didn’t meet his particular standards. And Lee said other spots he was recommended were already thriving with five or six hour wait times, and that they did not need his help finding a target audience — which is Lee’s mission as a “vessel of God,” which he often points out in his videos. 

“I didn’t want to put random restaurants at risk of being bullied and getting negative reviews from people who’ve never been to that restaurant,” Lee said.

Bay Area residents on Instagram, X (formerly Twitter) and TikTok asked whether Lee tried any pupusas or burritos. Some people said he chose wrong and questioned why chose certain spots over others. Others pointed out he gave some of his lowest reviews in just one of his videos from San Francisco.  

With millions of followers online, including 15 million on TikTok, Lee fans have been known to rapidly surge in droves to financially save suffering businesses, if he likes the food. He often pays his favorite restaurants thousands of dollars for his fans to eat after he leaves. And he always tries to reflect the positive aspects of his food experiences while being honest with what would appeal to his personal preferences.

“I’m not a food influencer, I’m not a content creator. I’m Keith,” he said. “If you disagree with me and you don’t like me, I fully get that. And I’m not mad at you.”

He added, “I never once looked at my trip to the Bay as a fail or a disappointment. Now I would appreciate it if these blogs and media would stop saying I did. Thank you, God bless you and have an amazing day.”

He added, “I never once looked at my trip to the Bay as a fail or a disappointment. Now I would appreciate it if these blogs and media would stop saying I did. Thank you, God bless you and have an amazing day.”

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