'Barely ate': Food critic Keith Lee names Atlanta his worst food stop of 2023

Keith Lee speaks onstage at VidCon Anaheim 2023 at the Anaheim Convention Center on June 23, 2023 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Unique Nicole/Getty Images)

Sorry Atlanta, when it comes to restaurants, viral TikTok food restaurant critic Keith Lee says the city needs to step it up.

Lee, who is from Las Vegas, became a TikTok star because of his food reviews. He has more than 15 million followers and over 660 million video views. Lee became a favorite because of his down-to-earth, honest reviews and his unique style of delivery. He almost always purchases the food anonymously and most of his reviews are done in his car outside the restaurant, which means that the restaurants have no idea that they are about to be reviewed. 

As part of his year-end review, Lee took a look back at the five-month family food tour and shared his thoughts on each of the eight cities he visited.

Sadly, the capital of the Peach State turned out to be the worst of the bunch in Lee's opinion, with the food critic saying the restaurants he ate at made it "hard to get food."

"If other people perceived me as a normal person and I went to Atlanta to get food, I would have ate nothing. I mean nothing," he said.

When Lee announced his plans to visit Atlanta in October, the local foodie community began freaking out. Many local food influencers and a few restaurants sent him suggestions on restaurants to visit before his arrival.

Based on those suggestions and a couple of his own discoveries, Lee visited The Atlanta Breakfast Club, The Seafood Menu, Juci Jerk, The Real Milk and Honey, The Dining Experience Atlanta, The Bodega, Jamaican Jerk Biz, Old Lady Gang and Toast on Lenox.

But Lee's problems started during his visit to The Atlanta Breakfast Club - the first restaurant in the city that he checked out, Lee was surprised by several of their rules, saying they were "unique" to him.

That wasn't the only restaurant where he ran into rules.

When he attempted to obtain food from The Real Milk and Honey, the rules prevented him from being able to place an order. The restaurant requires all to-go orders to be placed through DoorDash. But, DoorDash said the restaurant was closed. Since Lee was physically outside the restaurant, his wife attempted to go inside and place a to-go order. However, she was told that they were closed for a deep cleaning despite the door being open and other people picking up food.

"If you don’t like they rules, they not for you. For me and my family, the rules just weren’t for us," Lee said in his video.

Lee and his family didn't have the best experience when visiting the Old Lady Gang either.

According to Lee, he was told that they do not accept to-go orders on the weekend. When Lee's family tried to get a table, they were told the wait would be an hour and a half and reservations were not allowed.

A similar situation happened at Toast on Lenox. When they arrived, they were told there was a 2-and-1/2-hour wait. However, the staff must have recognized Lee because they were soon told they could be seated immediately. Once again, Lee declined the offer. Instead, he insisted that the table that was suddenly available be given to someone who was waiting and another person waiting for food to be helped before he was. 

Lee's videos prompted a huge response on TikTok and other social media platforms about the rules and treatment he received with some people saying they would not patronize restaurants with too many restrictions. His less-than-stellar reviews had even prompted death threats to some Atlanta-area establishments. Lee, on the other hand, says that he does not want potential customers to bash restaurants based on his experiences and encourages diners to form their own opinions. In other words, he wasn't in Atlanta to hate on anyone. 

While all the rules and wait times caused headaches for his family, Lee said what they did eat was "absolutely delicious."

Narrowly beating Atlanta on the list was New York City, which Lee said had problems with food selection, but the diversity of cuisine in the city put it over the edge.

Taking the top spot in Lee's city list was New Orleans - beating Houston, Texas because of the quality of the city's customer service.

"Everywhere we went, we felt like family," he said. "I'm talking like, it felt like my cousin's house. It didn't feel like going to a restaurant."

You can find Lee's full ranking of the cities he visited and more of his reviews on his TikTok channel.