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Food & Drink

TikTok star Keith Lee tried this San Francisco burger joint. Did his visit boost business?

TikTok food critic Keith Lee, who has amassed a following of over 15 million followers, made his first visit to San Francisco for his 2024 food tour.
TikTok food critic Keith Lee, who has amassed a following of over 15 million followers, made his first visit to San Francisco for his 2024 food tour. | Source: Jordan Strauss/AP Photo

Keith Lee—one of the most prominent food review influencers on TikTok—has officially touched down in San Francisco to kick off his 2024 food tour, delivering his first review in the City by the Bay.

Lee, a former professional mixed martial arts fighter turned restaurant critic, announced to his 15.6 million followers that he was going to be visiting the Bay Area less than a week ago, asking for local “mom and pop” recommendations on where he should eat during his stay.

His first stop—Double Decker on Grove Street in San Francisco—seemed to take many local fans by surprise.

“Who recommended this? I’m from here and have never even heard of it,” one TikTok user commented on Lee’s video reviewing the burger joint. The video, which was posted on Monday, had already garnered 2.2 million views as of Tuesday evening.

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Lee said he spent $53.80 on an order of french fries, a Double Decker Burger, an OG Burger, six sweet chili chicken wings and six buffalo chicken wings. He rated the OG Burger a 7.7 out of 10, raving about the fresh ingredients.

The rest of the meal, however, did not get much praise.

Lee, who said he is especially picky about fries, gave Double Decker’s potatoes a 3 out of 10. The Double Decker Burger featured a strong onion flavor that Lee was not fond of, earning a 2 out of 10 from the TikTok star.

A photo of the Double Decker and Western burgers at Double Decker where Tik Tok food critic Keith Lee visited on Monday.
The Double Decker and Western burgers sit on a table at Double Decker in San Francisco, where TikTok food critic Keith Lee visited on Monday. | Source: Courtesy John Situ

Interestingly enough, Lee’s cousin offered a contrasting 8.5 rating for that burger, which he attributed to a difference in taste preferences.

“There was an onion sauce or onion component that wasn’t on the original burger that is on here that I’m not liking at all,” Lee said in the video. “Again, this is only my personal opinion. … Everybody’s taste buds are different.”

For the chicken wings, the sweet and sour order earned a respectable 5.5 out of 10, while Lee critiqued the buffalo wings for lacking crispiness, resulting in a 3 out of 10 rating.

Double Decker has two locations in San Francisco—one at 465 Grove St. and the other at 2956 24th St. in the Mission District. The Grove Street location has been around for 15 years, owner John Situ said, while the Mission District restaurant opened about five years ago.

Situ told The Standard on Tuesday that so far business hasn’t boomed since Lee’s video, though some visitors at the 24th Street location mentioned the review.

A round brown storefront with an open sign in the window
Double Decker, located at 465 Grove St., has been around for 15 years, its owner said. | Source: Google Street View

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Situ said his son let him know Lee had visited the location late Monday night after seeing the video. Situ said he remembered taking the order, although someone other than Lee picked it up.

“I was kind of shocked, and it was unexpected,” he said, adding that his son reached out to Lee via email to invite him to check out Double Decker. “I’m kind of grateful, even though some of the food didn’t get the review I expected.”

Situ explained that the Double Decker Burger, which Lee gave a poor rating, has extra onion, garlic and cheese mixed in with the ground beef.

“I guess he has said on videos that he isn’t a fan of onions,” Situ said, “but that is the patty that has the onions.”

A photo of the chicken wings at Double Decker where Tik Tok food critic Keith Lee visited on Monday.
The chicken wings sit on a table at Double Decker, where TikTok food critic Keith Lee visited on Monday. | Source: Courtesy John Situ

Lee, who initially turned to TikTok in 2020 as a means of combating social anxiety, transitioned to sharing restaurant reviews in 2021, focusing predominantly on Black-owned establishments.

Seeking recommendations for both lesser-known gems and more renowned places, Lee, who is based in Las Vegas and often accompanied by his wife, Ronni, relies on the firsthand ordering experiences of his family to gauge customer service. To maintain his anonymity, Lee typically films his video reviews in a car or occasionally in a hotel room.

In trips to Atlanta and Houston last year, Lee’s visits fostered social media buzz in what many are now calling the “Keith Lee Effect” with his presence stirring up local food scenes and influencing foodies to visit the restaurants Lee features.

“It's business as usual right now,” Situ said. “As far as the ‘Keith Effect,’ I haven’t seen it yet—maybe down the line. We are a pretty small local spot—I’m sure a lot of people haven’t heard of us unless you live in the neighborhood.”

Joel Umanzor can be reached at jumanzor@sfstandard.com