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. 


Portland Monthly Food Critic Karen Brooks Looks Back on Three Decades of Restaurant Reviews

From ‘80s bagel punks to gazillion-dollar flops.

08/15/2016 By Karen Brooks


Eight Classic Portland Recipes, 1932 to Now

From Henry Thiele’s German pancakes to Lucy Brennan’s avocado daiquiri, here’s how to eat (and drink) your way through Portland history.

08/15/2016 By Benjamin Tepler, Kelly Clarke, and Karen Brooks


The (James) Beard Supremacy: Five Portland Chefs Who Slay

Cory Schreiber, Philippe Boulot, Cathy Whims, Greg Higgins, and Vitaly Paley embody the mission of Oregon’s original locavore.

08/15/2016 By Karen Brooks


In the ‘70s and ‘80s, This Prolific Portland Restaurateur Redefined “Fine Dining”

Michael Vidor—the man behind L’Auberge, Genoa, and Tanuki—replaced stodge with bohemian, come-as-you-are excellence.

08/15/2016 By Karen Brooks


How Zefiro Changed Everything for Portland’s Food Scene

In the ‘90s, the most mythical of Portland restaurants ruled over NW 21st and Glisan.

08/15/2016 By Karen Brooks


In 2002, Two Crazy Kids Basically Invented the Modern Portland Restaurant

Michael Hebb and Naomi Pomeroy redefined the city’s old-world restaurant order.

08/15/2016 By Karen Brooks


Pioneer Salt, Giant Pancakes, and Sexy Salads: The Two-Century-Long Story of How Portland Conquered the Food World

Here are the wild spots, rule breakers, lost treasures, and unforgettable dishes that forged our food culture.

08/15/2016 Edited by Kelly Clarke By Karen Brooks, Molly Woodstock, and Michael Zusman Photography by Nicolle Clemetson Styled by Ashley Marti/Local Haven

Breaking News

The Inside Scoop on Tusk, Portland’s Most Anticipated Restaurant of 2016

Eat Beat has the first look at the vegetable-forward Middle Eastern spot, courtesy of Ava Gene’s owner Joshua McFadden and his A-list crew.

08/15/2016 By Karen Brooks

Breaking News

Pine Street Market’s Common Law Closes; Kim Jong Grillin’/Smokehouse Tavern Collaboration Will Fill Space

Chef Patrick McKee’s fine dining French-Asian spot calls it quits. Up next: KJS, a Korean barbecue-meets-smoked meats project from two of Portland’s favorite meat men.

08/11/2016 By Kelly Clarke


Where to Eat This Week: August 10–17

Dirty dirty fries at OP Wurst and soft-serve at Lovely’s Fifty Fifty are your required eating for the week.

08/10/2016 By Eat Beat Team


The Inside Scoop on Upcoming Korean Spot Revelry

Eat Beat has the first look and menu details at Revelry, a new restaurant from Seattle superstars Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi.

08/08/2016 By Karen Brooks

Breaking News

Food Cart Standout Tiffin Asha to Open Brick-and-Mortar on NE Killingsworth

The cart gets a permanent home for its playful dosas and Southern Indian snacks across the street from Hat Yai and Podnah’s Pit.

08/02/2016 By Karen Brooks

Breaking News

Appalachian Hot Spot Mae to Launch Southern Brunch

Beginning September 4, rising chef Maya Lovelace will enter her vaunted fried chicken, serious baking, and farmers market finds into Portland’s Sunday brunch ring.

07/26/2016 By Karen Brooks


Where to Eat This Week: July 20-27

Al pastor tacos at Tight Tacos, boozy Sloshy Pops at New Deal, and playful cocktails at Tastebud are your required eating and drinking for the week.

07/20/2016 By Eat Beat Team


What to Eat at Hat Yai, Langbaan’s Spin-Off Southern Thai Joint

Critic Karen Brooks gives (at least) one good reason southern Thai fried chicken is better than southern American fried chicken.

07/12/2016 By Karen Brooks


A Chef from Lima Unites Peru and Portland, Electric-Yellow Chile Swoops to Top-Notch Cebiche

At Paiche, Jose Luis de Cossio’s dishes are never boring.

07/12/2016 By Karen Brooks


Best of the City 2016: 11 Portland Eats, Spots, and Sips We Can’t Resist Right Now

Iced matcha-chai lattes to killer pastrami sandwiches, here are some of our city’s most delicious things.

06/13/2016 By Kelly Clarke, Eden Dawn, Marty Patail, Benjamin Tepler, Karen Brooks, and Rachel Ritchie


PDX Essentials: Quadrant by Quadrant, All the Things We Can’t Live Without

Secret beaches to art deco splendor to OG dive bars, here are some of our favorite things in every corner of Portland.

06/13/2016 By Portland Monthly Staff


These Are Four of Portland’s Most Delicious Lunch Destinations

From Kim Jong Grillin’s Korean short ribs to Maurice’s gorgeous sandwiches, here are our some of our city’s greatest midday meals.

06/13/2016 By Karen Brooks


Prairie Creek Farm Needs Our Help

The legendary organic farm from Joseph feeds some of the best kitchens in the city. Now, it’s on the ropes. Here’s how we can all pitch in.

05/25/2016 By Karen Brooks