Food Editor & Critic

Karen Brooks eats, drinks and thinks about food for Portland Monthly, where she continues her journey as Portland’s opinionated, trend-spotting food critic. She pens monthly restaurant reviews, writes and photographs the print magazine’s Word of Mouth column (aka: what I’m obsessing over now), drives the annual Best Restaurants issue, contributes to various food-cover packages, and breaks news for the magazine’s food blog, Eat Beat.

Karen began her journalism career at alt-weekly Willamette Week, doubling as food critic and Arts & Culture editor. Then she jumped ship to the Oregonian, doing double-duty again as Arts czarina and Food Critic while creating two of the daily’s most enduring sections: the weekly A&E and the annual Diner guide. At Portland Monthly since 2010, she’s continued her mission of ferreting out new restaurant models and maverick thinkers defining Portland’s food voice.

In her spare time, Karen is rabid NBA baller, film/TV junkie, and food author. She’s written nine books to date, most recently a book on Portland’s punk-rock food scene, The Mighty Gastropolis: A Journey Through America’s New Food Culture. 

Local Giving

Give Thanks at Coffeehouse Northwest—and Raise Money for Immigrants and Refugees

The local cafe's long-running Thanksgiving charity free-for-all returns, this year benefiting Portland's Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization.

11/22/2016 By Kelly Clarke

Word of Mouth

The 11 Best Things Food Critic Karen Brooks Ate in 2016

Beef tartare to old-school pizza to Japanese shaved ice, here are the year’s defining dishes.

11/14/2016 By Karen Brooks

Eat Here Now

Where to Eat This Week: Nov 1–8

Lunch at Luce, crêpes at Little Bird, and bone broth at Broth Bar are your required eating for the week.

10/31/2016 By Eat Beat Team

Breaking News

Chef Johnny Leach to Open Playful Mexican Spot Chalino

A pair of Stray Dogs and Xico alums rethink Mexican on North Williams this winter.

10/26/2016 By Karen Brooks

Best Restaurants 2016

Portland’s Best New Restaurants of 2016

Dynamic change, new players, and deliciously bold concepts executed with serious attention to detail: here are the 12 places that define Portland’s food scene right now.

10/10/2016 By Karen Brooks, Kelly Clarke, and Benjamin Tepler

Best Restaurants 2016: Bucket List

30 Portland Restaurants for the Ultimate Local Dining Bucket List

Hope you’re hungry. Here are 30 top picks from Portland Monthly editors.

10/10/2016 By Kelly Clarke, Karen Brooks, and Benjamin Tepler

Best Restaurants 2016: Repeat Offenders

Four Portland Dishes We Ate Over and Over and Over Again in 2016

Fried catfish to porridge (no, really), we just can’t get enough.

10/10/2016 By Benjamin Tepler, Karen Brooks, and Kelly Clarke

Best Restaurants 2016: Brunch Bliss

Three Exceptional New Portland Brunches—Without Lines

Only chumps wait for their waffles.

10/10/2016 By Karen Brooks and Zach Dundas

Best Restaurants: On the Verge

Four Intriguing Portland Restaurants Opening Soon

From lavish Russian tea service to pakora-fried chicken, these spots should light up our winter.

10/10/2016 By Kelly Clarke, Karen Brooks, and Ramona DeNies

Best Restaurants 2016: Almost Perfect

Three New Portland Spots That Are 80 Percent Awesome

Superbite, Pine Street Market, and Tastebud: it’s complicated.

10/10/2016 By Kelly Clarke and Karen Brooks

Best Restaurants 2016: Neighborhood Excellence

Portland’s Best Everyday, Michelin-Caliber Restaurant: Coquine

This neighborhood spot came to slay—very politely.

10/10/2016 By Karen Brooks

Best Restaurants 2016: Xurroland

Portland’s Best Dessert of 2016: Xurros at 180

Behold the life-altering power of a tube of fried dough.

10/10/2016 By Karen Brooks

Best Restaurants 2016: Catalan Modernism

Portland’s Best Spot for Real Barcelona Paella (and Xurros): Chesa

Where Catalan modernism meets the ultimate X(urros) factor.

10/10/2016 By Karen Brooks

Best Restaurants 2016: Supahardcore

Portland’s Best “Supahardcore” Japanese: Nodoguro

From pop-up beginnings to a Zen-vintage space on Belmont, the champion of “Supahardcore” Japanese doubles down.

10/10/2016 By Karen Brooks

Best Restaurants 2016: Pumped-Up Korean

Portland Monthly’s Rising Star Restaurant of 2016: Revelry

Seattle stars and local nightlife talent bring us pumped-up Korean and throwback hip-hop.

10/10/2016 By Karen Brooks

Best Restaurants 2016: Mideast Remix

Portland Monthly’s Rising Star Restaurant of 2016: Tusk

With a beautiful room and beautiful food, a Mideast-meets-Portland restaurant turns heads with the most unlikely of stars: salads.

10/10/2016 By Karen Brooks

Breaking News

Biwa to Reboot as Two Eateries: A Sashimi Chef’s Counter and a DJ-Spinning Japanese Bar

On October 16, Portland’s DIY Japanese pub pioneer moves down the hall to become Biwa Izakaya. The original space will become Parasol Bar in November.

10/05/2016 By Karen Brooks

Food Coma

Feast Portland 2016: A Retrospective

Senior editor Kelly Clarke and restaurant critic Karen Brooks recount four days of country ham chocolate bars, enormous shrimp tower phalluses, and heavenly Asian breakfast.

09/21/2016 By Karen Brooks and Kelly Clarke

Word of Mouth

Find Portland’s Best Unknown Brunch at Whiskey Soda Lounge

Food critic Karen Brooks dishes with Pok Pok kingpin Andy Ricker over Vietnamese coffee, patangko doughnuts, and coddled eggs.

09/13/2016 By Karen Brooks

Review

Lovely’s Fifty Fifty Perfects the Portland Pizza

After nearly seven years, the N Mississippi Avenue spot has gone from solid to sensational.

09/13/2016 By Karen Brooks