Apr 3, 2024 - News

Keith Lee to return to Atlanta for more food reviews

TikTok food reviewer Keith Lee takes a selfie after a Las Vegas Aces game last year. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Atlanta wants Keith Lee to experience its entire Black dining industry when he returns for his "Redemption Tour" after the TikTok star's visit last year left the scene in shambles.

Why it matters: Lee's criticism of Atlanta in November — he later called it his worst stop in 2023 — created so much controversy that he said his family received threats.

Driving the news: Lee said on TikTok he will have "legal and licensed" security on his next trip to Atlanta, adding that "we don't want to have to use them, but we will."

  • He said he will not review the spots he previously visited, and will instead visit "mom and pop" restaurants, places his followers recommended, and "spots from different ethnicities and different cultures."

Context: The Infatuation's Nina Reeder says that Lee highlighted in his reviews an ongoing dialogue on the way some Atlanta restaurants are more focused on "vibes than quality food and service."

Friction point: AJC Black culture editor Mike Jordan says "the off-the-record sentiment" toward Lee among Black restaurateurs involves "expletives" and mixed emotions because Lee "wasn't wrong, but he wasn't right" about Atlanta.

The intrigue: It's not surprising Lee is revisiting Atlanta. He gained nearly 2 million new TikTok followers after his last trip.

  • McConnell called Lee's Atlanta review "some of his most popular" TikToks, and Jordan said "Atlanta was better to Keith Lee than Keith Lee was to Atlanta," adding later that "you go back to the trap that makes you some money."

What we're watching: Lee never reviewed Atlanta's renown lemon pepper wet wings or fried chicken, said food historian Akila McConnell of Unexpected Atlanta walking tours.

  • "Everyone will be tuning in to see what he dishes out and whether the ATL can be redeemed," McConnell tells Axios.

What they're saying: Reeder, Jordan and McConnell said Lee should visit Bomb Biscuit, Oreatha's At The Point, Busy Bee Cafe, The Municipal Market, Twisted Soul, One Flew South, Paschal's, Che Butter Jonez, Le Petit Marche, and Cococakes by Coco.

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