When a food critic comes to a city that is proud of its dining scene, restaurants and their devotees take notice. But rarely does a traditional reviewer cause as much excitement as Atlanta has seen with the recent visit of Keith Lee, a food obsessive with a vast army of 14 million followers on TikTok.
Mr. Lee, known for his ability to revive a small business with his legions of fans, was often frustrated with what he believed to be odd rules at different restaurants.
“Butter’s a dollar? At a breakfast place?” he asked in a video on his first day in Atlanta, eating takeout in his car. Mr. Lee, who is based in Las Vegas, mostly reviews independent, mom-and-pop restaurants, many of them Black-owned. He often orders takeout and has his family pick it up, so he does not receive star influencer treatment.
Mr. Lee has made videos from Detroit, Chicago and Los Angeles, but the response in Atlanta has been notable. For many of his followers there, his critiques appear to have opened a valve for their long-held gripes with some of the city’s restaurants.