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. 


The Best Finds at 180, Xurros to Dipping Sauces

We ate our way through Portland’s first xurreria to save you the calories.

03/23/2016 By Karen Brooks


Where to Eat During Portland Dining Month

Which of the city’s 120-plus restaurants will you explore during our frugal, creative dining month? We’ve got a few ideas….

03/14/2016 By Sarah Hopwood


Where to Eat This Week

From luxurious buttered tea cake at Maurice to messy brisket burgers at Smokehouse Tavern, these are the things you must eat right now.

03/09/2016 By Eat Beat Team


Expatriate to Launch Twisted Asian Brunch March 19

Beast’s Naomi Pomeroy and barman supreme Kyle Linden Webster rethink waffles, burritos, and Bloody Marys for a spice-loving generation. Eat Beat has the first details.

03/07/2016 By Karen Brooks


Nodoguro to Open Brick-and-Mortar in Former Genoa Space in April

Pop-up artists Ryan and Elena Roadhouse find a home for their creative Japanese cuisine, hard-core sushi nights, and new mini menu backroom.

03/01/2016 By Karen Brooks


A Communal Appalachian Feast and More to Check Out in March

Portland Monthly food critic Karen Brooks dishes on the restaurants, obsessions, and under-the-radar finds of the month.

03/01/2016 By Karen Brooks


Pizza Jerk is Portland’s First Punk-Rock Family Pizza Joint

Tommy Habetz brings together high chairs, punk rock, and some serious pies.

03/01/2016 By Karen Brooks


Vitaly and Kimberly Paley Will Dramatically Reimagine Historic Heathman Restaurant with Seafood-Centric Headwaters

New look, new direction, new seafood focus. Can the Paley’s Place team pull off another downtown hotel restaurant miracle blocks away from Imperial?

02/16/2016 By Karen Brooks


First Look and Menu Details for Ataula’s Sister Restaurant Chesa, Opening Next Week

Chef Jose Chesa gets serious with a design-savvy new dining room bursting with smoked paellas, modern tapas, and a major bar. Eat Beat has the first report.

02/16/2016 By Karen Brooks


The Scoop on Bar Casa Vale, the Upcoming Spanish Spot from Olympia Provisions' Nate Tilden

What to expect at the restaurant and bar kingpin’s new project: “big-ass flames, Spanish braises, and major sherries.”

02/09/2016 By Karen Brooks


Ken Forkish Reveals New Details about Trifecta Annex at Pine Street Market

Unusual pies from Forkish’s forthcoming pizza cookbook and crazy croissants will rise from a tiny space inside Portland’s first food hall. Here’s why they matter.

02/03/2016 By Karen Brooks


Salt & Straw Launching Soft Serve Ice Cream Concept, Wiz Bang Bar

It’s Dairy Queen turned upside down, Portland-style. Eat Beat has the first details on Kim and Tyler Malek’s new sit-down soft serve experience inside Pine Street Market, opening April 1.

01/28/2016 By Karen Brooks


The Wide World of Comfort (or, We’re All Gonna Die Anyway)

We scoured the city for the best warm-blanket dishes from across the globe. So go ahead, wrap your napkin around your shoulders like a Snuggie and dig in!

01/25/2016 Edited by Kelly Clarke By Karen Brooks, Ramona DeNies, Zach Dundas, Rachel Grozanick, Amy Martin, Fiona McCann, Marty Patail, Rachel Ritchie, Benjamin Tepler, and Molly Woodstock


Three Things You Must Eat This Month

Decadent-yet-healthy breakfasts, Spanish dessert breakthroughs, and dead-sexy chocolate bars.

01/25/2016 By Karen Brooks


The Agony & the Ecstasy of Micah Edelstein’s Feisty Lamb

A one-woman restaurant bursts with heartfelt ideas and world flavors—if you can stick around long enough to taste them.

01/25/2016 By Karen Brooks


16 Ridiculously Comforting Dishes from Around the Globe

Search out your next rainy-day dish or guilty pleasure by comfort keyword: soothing, hearty, homey, gooey, or spicy.

01/25/2016 Edited by Kelly Clarke By Benjamin Tepler, Karen Brooks, Marty Patail, Molly Woodstock, Rachel Ritchie, Ramona DeNies, and Zach Dundas


Portland’s Din Din Will Close in February

Courtney Sproule is hanging up her apron for now. We’ll miss her unusual blend of French cooking, seasonal intensity and changing monthly décor.

01/18/2016 By Karen Brooks and Benjamin Tepler


Where to Eat This Week

From spicy miso ramen at Departure to oysters at Olympia Oyster Bar, these are the things you must devour right now.

01/13/2016 By Eat Beat Team


We Predict: Portland’s Best Restaurants 2016

A charcoal-fired paella restaurant, a Southern Thai curry house, the city’s first food hall, and bold new small plates compete to be Portland’s next great breakout.

01/13/2016 By Karen Brooks


Either/Or’s Ro Tam Is Bringing Won Ton Noodle Soup to Sellwood

Traditional techniques, old-school crooners, and moody nights will come together in February at a tiny new shop from a dedicated brother-sister team.

01/04/2016 By Karen Brooks