The Bay Area in San Francisco is one of the most visited places for people who tour the city. Recently, TikTok honest food reviewer Keith Lee dunked on the area’s food offerings, saying they’re not worth it for visiting tourists. Let’s look closer at why Lee would say this and what it could mean for the area’s food.

The Bay’s Not a Touristy Place Right Now

Lee visited the Bay Area on the 11th of January and wasn’t impressed by what he found there. He was scheduled to do a food tour of Northern California but ended the tour early.

Source: Courtesy Photo

In his own words, he said that the Bay Area is not a fit place for tourists right now. He cited that the area was in “survival mode,” so there was nothing for him or other visitors to enjoy there.

Who is Keith Lee?

For those who aren’t in the know, Keith Lee is a Tik-Tok sensation whose claim to fame is honest food reviews. He visits places and tries their food, giving honest results that aren’t paid for.

Source: TikTok/ keith_lee125

Thanks to his honesty, his follower count has surged. He has 15.6 million followers who subscribe to his channel on the social media platform. Over a million people had already seen his statements about the Bay Area.

Multiple Disappointing Dining Experiences Force Early Ending

Lee mentions that the primary reason he cut the food tour short was the sheer amount of disappointing dishes he experienced. And it wasn’t just the top-of-the-line dining establishments either.

Source: TikTok/ keith_lee125

He visited many other places like small restaurants, mom-and-pop eateries, and other places that served food in the area. Because of all the disappointment, he figured he should shelve his plan for an extended tour.

Not Enjoying This Job

Lee has come out to say that he usually enjoys it when he checks out food places and reviews them. He’s always been about positive and constructive feedback and not tearing anyone down.

Source: Flickr/Charles Willgren

In this case, he couldn’t find anything about the places he ate at that could count as redeeming qualities. He was scared to post some videos because of how negative he had to be to the owners.

Content Production Like This is Expensive

According to Lee, making videos like this and traveling the country to experience new things takes a lot of money. Because of his integrity, he doesn’t accept free food from the places he’s reviewing.

Source: Flickr/Eugene Kim

With all the resources he expended putting together this tour, he realized that his recordings were not what he wanted to give his followers. So he decided it was time to shut the whole thing down.

Allergic Reaction Is Another Reason

The woeful state of the food on offer in the Bay Area wasn’t the only reason that Lee cut his food tour short. Reports state that he was rushed to hospital following an allergic reaction.

Source: Flickr/B L

Lee states that he had warned the restaurant about his shellfish allergy, but it seems as though his warnings went unheeded. He only had a close call and didn’t suffer any long-term problems because of the allergic reaction.

Crime Concerns Over His Visit

When Lee announced he was going to Northern California for a food tour, many of his followers raised concerns. Oakland and San Francisco have been dealing with a spate of crimes recently.

Source: Flickr/ mzee

While Lee reassured his viewers that he would take the necessary precautions while there, he eventually canceled the tour. In this case, the area’s food and service quality was the reason.

Lee Wasn’t Concerned About the Crime Situation

Lee’s fans were clamoring to get him to cancel his visit to the Bay Area because of the crime. Some of them even called the area “Gotham City,” referencing the crime-ridden metropolis that the DC Comics Batman defends.

Source: Flickr/Derek Bridges

He stated outright that he was open to experiencing the area. He was eager to see what he could find in the Bay Area and hoped he could spread some awareness about the excellent food there.

A Limited Exposure

Some of the more eagle-eyed of Lee’s followers noted that he was only going to San Francisco and Oakland. The Bay Area is much larger than just these two, encompassing 101 cities and nine counties.

Source: Flickr/Ernesto Andrade

Those fans quickly pointed out that he could have included other areas like San Mateo or Hayward as part of his tour. His dismissal of the entire Bay Area based on the experiences in Oakland and San Francisco pissed off quite a few users.

Might Have Had Other Plans

Since Lee canceled his tour, he might have had other plans for the rest of the Bay Area. Still, without a posted itinerary of where he was visiting, fans were left to wonder about it.

Source: TikTok/ keith_lee125

If he was planning on covering Oakland and San Francisco, he had enough excuses because of the situations he encountered. He did manage to offer some positive highlights to a few places there.

Honest Reviews Carry a Lot of Weight

Lee’s reviews are well-received by a considerable amount of people. They use his honest and earnest take on food places to plan out where to eat when visiting those locations. However, this might have worked against the Bay Area.

Source: TikTok/ keith_lee125

With only a handful of visits and not enough usable footage to justify continuing his itinerary, he simply abandoned the tour. This would have left a lot of people who were looking forward to the exposure disappointed as a result.

The Bay Area Hasn’t Had a Good Time Recently

While many places in the Bay Area are still functional, they aren’t thriving. Residents in the area have been holding on economically since COVID, but no one knows how long that will remain true. Thanks to rampant homelessness, increased crime, and an overall dangerous atmosphere, it’s not where tourists want to be.

Source: Flickr/ Hubert Figuiere

Lee noted that he and his staff encountered several burning husks of vehicles and lots of tents and temporary structures for housing. It’s a common sight in some areas of Northern California these days.

San Francisco May be Dying

Over the last few years, city officials in San Francisco have been trying to deal with the problems they’ve been facing, but with little to show for it. COVID-19 caused a mass exodus from the thriving city.

Source: Flickr/Ronnie Macdonald

Today, many of the problems the city faces come from never finding a way to replace the lost income from people who left. Its lack of affordable housing, coupled with the high cost of living, makes it one of the places people are least likely to return to after COVID.

Population Has Shifted to Smaller Satellite Cities

San Francisco is still one of the major hubs for technology development in the US, but much of its population has fled. Some estimates put the exodus at around $7 billion. Even so, most workers haven’t gone too far away.

Source: Flickr/Nicolas Raymond

Satellite cities surrounding San Francisco have served as places for workers to live and offer a better cost of living. If Lee had visited these, he might have found a vibrant food culture transcending San Francisco.

Gritty Honesty like Lee’s May Transform Food Blogging

Lee’s popularity is partially due to his honesty in reviewing. He’s made a habit out of helping the places he’s reviewing to be better, offering suggestions and positive feedback on what they do.

Source: Flickr/Ian Collins

This positivity and his honest reviews have already started transforming food blogging. Many current bloggers adopt a similar style when they present their videos for maximum engagement with their subjects and the followers who watch them.

Building Up and Not Breaking Down

Food blogging can make or break a location, especially one that doesn’t have a huge fanbase as yet. Going viral on TikTok after being covered by Lee leads to a massive demand, potentially creating more jobs for the area.

Source: Flickr/ Sarah Arnoff

Unfortunately, Lee’s coverage of San Francisco would have probably driven more companies out of business than he would have helped. Not posting was in many of these places’ best interests.

Doing Content That He Would Enjoy

Lee’s guiding principle in his work is doing content that he himself would watch. He sees himself in each of his viewers and wants to ensure that he gives them something worth seeing and experiencing.

Source: TikTok/ keith_lee125

His approach tries to both help the places he visits get exposure and improve and let his followers know where the good food is. His canceling of his planned trip cuts out many of Northern California’s hidden gems from benefiting from his exposure.

Will The Bay Area Ever Recover?

Lee said he was willing to revisit San Francisco and Oakland to see if the food scene improves, but the Bay Area is more than just these places. If Lee were to examine the other places, he might see a side of the Bay Area that is not limited to the bad portions he visited.

Source: Flickr/ftchris

Whether he decides to do another tour and focus on other areas is anyone’s guess. However, if he does, he might be pleasantly surprised and rethink his decision to condemn the entire Bay Area for a few bad experiences.