Aug 15, 2023 - Culture

Here's everywhere TikToker Keith Lee ate in New Orleans

Keith Lee stands on an empty basketball court and films a selfie with one hand while smiling and holding up a peace sign with his other hand.

TikTok star Keith Lee drove social media traffic to a handful of little-known New Orleans restaurants during an early August trip to the city. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Social media star and food reviewer Keith Lee made a "bucket list" trip to New Orleans last week.

Why it matters: Lee specializes in driving audiences toward little-known, family-owned restaurants that don't often get headline coverage, and his trip to New Orleans was no different.

Driving the news: Lee, who's been posting food reviews since 2021, said he wanted to "be a marketing platform, free of charge" for local restaurants who don't have significant followings while here.

  • By sharing dishes with his 15 million followers as he ate his way across the city, the restaurants Lee visited received boosts of thousands of followers.
  • Lee also paid for fellow diners' meals and left hefty tips in his wake.

State of play: Lee encouraged followers to offer their own suggestions. His TikTok comment threads are filled with familiar names, like Willie Mae's, Banh Mi Boys and Chicken's Kitchen.

  • He said he got suggestions from more than 1,000 followers, and more than 100 restaurants reached out with invites to dine.

Where he ate: Despite a shellfish allergy, Lee was able to tuck into plenty of New Orleans dishes, getting a warm reception from locals all the while.

  • Lee tried his first-ever gumbo — and spied a bounce bus — at Palace Cafe, which he admitted "is where the tourists go."
  • At Larry Morrow's Mid-City restaurant, Monday, Lee says the grits have "crazy flavor" and declared the sweet potato beignets worth returning for before his family left town.
  • After a family member reached out via email, Lee stopped by Kajunlicious to try wings, catfish, truffle mac and cheese and lamb chops, which initially left him speechless. A day after his TikTok video went live, Lee said the restaurant had a four-hour wait time.
  • The family also visited B Sweet Bistro, AJ's Jazzy Grill, Sweet Thangs, Triangle Deli, Baby's Snack Box, Da Real Jo Jackson and Stamp Dat in St. Rose.

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