Food

Houston restaurants see boom after rave Keith Lee food reviews on Tik Tok

Lee said The Puddery had the best dessert he’s ever had in his life. Rating it a nine out of 10, Lee said the crunchy croissant was “immaculate,” and the banana pudding left him speechless, he said.

Keith Lee
Keith Lee TikTok videos
In a series of six videos on the social media platform, food critic Keith Lee reviewed The Puddery, Butter Funk Kitchen and The Breakfast Klub. (From left to right)

Business is booming for some Houston-area restaurants after reviews from social media food critic Keith Lee went viral this week.

The rave reviews and nearly 28 million video plays triggered new-found exposure for many of the Houston restaurants, accompanied by packs of new customers.

“Houston’s got a plethora of places to choose from,” he said at the end of one of his food review videos. “That’s one thing about Houston, Houston has the most diverse and biggest array of food that I’ve had since we’ve been on food tours.”

Here’s a rundown of his stops in Houston so far.

Mezza Grille

6100 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX

Mezza Grille
Mezza Grille

A west Houston Mediterranean eatery gained a massive social following, around 12,000 Tik Tok followers, after Lee praised the Pakistani-owned restaurant for its flavor infused meats and soup.

He tried beef shish kabob, mango stuffed chicken breast, a chicken shawarma wrap and chicken tortilla soup from Mezza Grille, he said in a Tik Tok video posted Sunday.

He rated most of those eats in the upper eight’s, with the beef shish kabob coming in at a score of nine out of 10. He said the entrees were rich is spice and flavor, and a break from what he said was Houston’s monotonous food scene.

The Waffle Bus

1835 N Shepherd Dr., Houston, TX

Waffle Bus
The Waffle Bus

The Waffle Bus, once just a Houston-roaming food truck, made a quick rise in Houston’s food scene for its unique take on sweet and spicy. The waffle business opened up a brick-and-mortar location in the Heights a few years ago.

Lee said the restaurant was recommended to him “1,000 times,” but a direct message from Phi Nguyen, the owner of the restaurant, was further motivation to venture to the waffle restaurant.

Nguyen said The Heights brick-and-mortar location lost about 50 percent in sales this year because of surrounding construction.

“…we are doing everything we can to stay afloat,” he said in the message to Lee.

Lee endeavored to try a hodgepodge of foods from the restaurant, including a chicken sandwich, a breakfast sandwich, double brunch burger, cheese fries and a strawberry waffle sandwich. He praised the waffle fries for being seasoned and crispy, rating them an 8.7 out of 10.

He said the breakfast sandwich, lined with crispy bacon, cheesy eggs and dripping in spicy mayo, was “ridiculous.”

“It’s a lot, but it’s delicious,” he said.

The strawberry Irish Crème Brûlée waffle scored the highest, with a whopping nine of 10 final score.

The Better Box

9411 Farm to Market 1960 Rd W, Houston, TX

The Better Box
The Better Box

A Philadelphia inspired food truck cooking up Chinese food in far Northwest Houston felt the Keith Lee experience Thursday when the critic stopped by to try a Cajun salmon cheesesteak, Philly cheesesteak eggsrolls and salmon eggrolls.

The food truck that’s usually on the move around the Houston area was Lee’s first food truck stop in the city he’s praised for having top notch eats.

Giving rave reviews, the crunchy firecracker salmon eggrolls quickly put a smile on Lee’s face. He praised the mouthwatering salmon cheesesteak and said the Philly cheesesteak eggsrolls had potential, despite what he suspected to be a burnt outer crisp.

The Puddery

5517 Broadway St., Pearland, TX

The Puddery
The Puddery

Touting itself as “Houston’s best banana pudding restaurant,” Janel Prator’s Pearland bakery is a hot spot for local desserts. The restaurant boasts rave reviews on Yelp and Google, with customers endorsing their containers of banana pudding and croissant waffles with homemade whipped cream and crushed Oreos.

Lee said the restaurant had the best dessert he’s ever had in his life. Rating it a nine out of 10, Lee said the crunchy croissant was “immaculate,” and the banana pudding left him speechless, he said.

“…This food was absolutely insane,” Lee said.

Lines wrapped the Pearland restaurant building hours after his rave review came out.

Cool Runnings Jamaican Bar & Grill

8270 W Bellfort Ave., Houston, TX

Cool Runnings Jamaican Grill
Cool Runnings Jamaican Grill, where braised oxtails are a popular dish, is among the Houston-area businesses participating in Black Restaurant Week. (Photo from Black Restaurant Week)

Cool Runnings Jamaican Bar & Grill, 8270 W. Bellfort Ave., was “Keith Lee’d” days after a robber swiped the restaurant’s donation jar to support funds for a Jamaican college, amounting to about $50.

After touting some of the restaurant’s most popular “outstanding” menu items from his car, Lee walked inside to compliment the food and donate a $1,000 tip.

Lee tried jerk chicken, rice and peas, a Jamaican beef patty, ackee and saltfish, a plantain and brown stew chicken. It was some of the best food he’s had in Houston, he said. The restaurant’s Instagram page gained thousands of followers after Lee’s review.

The Breakfast Klub

3711 Travis St, Houston, TX

The Breakfast Klub
The Breakfast Klub

On Monday, Lee visited The Breakfast Klub, one of Houston’s hot spot brunch restaurants. Lee typically visits restaurants that might already be struggling with business, but he said the brunch restaurant has the food to back up their booming success. The Black-owned restaurant has been labeled a favorite by Beyoncé and other Houstonians.

Lee ordered fried chicken, pancakes and cheesy grits. Lee said the “Heavenly” fried chicken was juicy, crunchy and seasoned well. He said the pancakes were dense on his fork, but melted in his mouth.

He said the dishes left him wanting to try the entire menu.

“I 110 percent understand why The Breakfast Klub is a staple in Houston,” Lee said. “This food- immaculate. I would mess around and come back to Houston just for that.”

Butter Funk Kitchen

8511 Scott St Suite G, Houston, TX

Butter Funk Kitchen
Butter Funk Kitchen

One of the first stops on Lee’s Houston food tour was a Cajun soul food restaurant nestled at the corner of a strip mall in Sunnyside, south Houston.

Butter Funk Kitchen cooks up classic Southern dishes like catfish, gumbo, grits and fried okra.

Lee gave mostly positive reviews about the fried catfish, fried okra, red beans and rice, lemon pepper wings, and oxtails. He said the macaroni and cheese, rated a three out of 10, didn’t have much flavor and needed more salt.

Stick Talk

5819 Richmond Ave., Houston, TX

Stick Talk
Stick Talk- Cajun Hibachi

Lee kicked off his Houston food tour by ordering hibachi after his flight into town. He said Stick Talk, a Cajun hibachi restaurant wasn’t bad for some late-night hibachi.

Lee tried a chicken bowl, filet mignon bowl, ribeye and chicken, salmon and a blue raspberry lemonade, totaling about $135 before delivery fees, he said.

Stick Talk didn’t exactly garner rave reviews like those of other Houston restaurants he visited, but he said the bowls were good with the addition of spicy Yum Yum sauce. He said the sour blue lemonade, which received his highest rating of 7.3 out of 10, tasted like “blue.”

Stick Talk has two locations in Houston, one in west Houston off of Richmond Avenue, and a recently opened location in Midtown.