Karen Brooks holds one of the most prestigious titles in the food world: winner of the James Beard Craig Claiborne Distinguished Restaurant Review Award for 2017. This was her second time as a national finalist. After this, it’s all gravy.

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 and film/TV junkie and author. She’s penned nine books to date, most recently a deep dive into Portland’s punk-rock food scene, The Mighty Gastropolis: A Journey Through America’s New Food Culture. 

Breaking News

Country Cat’s Famed Meat Lovers Buy Plant-Based Icons Harlow and Prasad

Adam and Jackie Sappington, known for their butcher art and nostalgic cooking, jump into the meat-free world and expand their Portland restaurant portfolio.

08/14/2018 By Karen Brooks

Word of Mouth

'Wine Dive Bar' Sardine Head Is Changing the Way Portland Drinks

With natural wine, tinned fish, and zero pretension, there's no place quite like this.

08/14/2018 By Karen Brooks

Review

Duane Sorenson's Holiday Is the Portland Restaurant Surprise of 2018

The Stumptown founder overhauls Roman Candle and reinvents himself in the process—vegan, juiced up, and high on life.

08/14/2018 By Karen Brooks

Streets & Hoods

6 Essential Portland Neighborhoods for Newcomers to Explore

Shop, eat, and play your way across the metro area.

08/03/2018 Edited by Kelly Clarke and Margaret Seiler

Breaking News

NE Broadway Xurro Shop 180 to Relocate

The popular Spanish doughnut and drinking chocolate spot has closed, with plans to reopen in a new neighborhood.

08/01/2018 By Karen Brooks

Chef Diaries

Introducing 'Postcards from the Food Edge,' a New Series from Globe-Trotting PDX Chefs

In our inaugural post, Ataula’s Jose and Cristina Chesa explore churros, lap up coffee-ant mayo, and cook up a storm in Mexico City.

07/25/2018 By Cristina Baez Edited by Karen Brooks

Review

Gabriel Rucker's Canard Is 2018’s Best Restaurant (So Far)

From funfetti pancakes to rare Burgundy wines, Le Pigeon's sister spot is a gloriously odd duck.

07/17/2018 By Karen Brooks

Cowabunga

Country Brunch Brings Bucolic Farm Views, Amped Bloody Marys, and Ice Cream for Breakfast

Portland Monthly's annual celebration of seriously good morning eats, lawn games, and live tunes rolls out July 15.

07/06/2018 By Karen Brooks

Summer Eats: Fun in the Sun

11 Amazing Ways to Savor Summer in Portland

Garden bowers. Yacht-side patios. Slurping banana pudding milkshakes and swilling beers with llamas. We’ve got ideas.

06/19/2018 By Karen Brooks, Kelly Clarke, Rebecca Jacobson, Sam Pape, Benjamin Tepler, and Sarah Williams

Word of Mouth

Portland's Real-Deal Farm-to-Table Cooking Isn't Where You'd Expect

Namely in a downtown wine shop.

06/19/2018 By Karen Brooks

Breaking News

First Look: Castagna Café Reboot OK Omens Is Ready for Prime Time

The casual modern wine bar from Michelin-caliber chef Justin Woodward and rising somm star Brent Braun is now open, and we’ve got the details.

06/07/2018 By Karen Brooks

Breaking News

Feast Portland’s Hottest Ticket Boasts 3 Power Lady Chefs, 4 Michelin Stars, and 1 Night of Serious Eating

SF's Dominique Crenn, NYC's Emma Bengtsson, and Portland’s Kristen Murray collaborate at September’s food fest. We got details. 

06/05/2018 By Karen Brooks

Breaking News

Woodblock Chocolate Readies a Giant 'Manufactory' and Café Off NE Broadway

Portland’s cacao fanatics promise 1,500 square feet of chocolate bon-bons, drinks, and cookies, plus an up-close look at their bean-to-bar process.

05/30/2018 By Karen Brooks

First Look

Either/Or Is Officially Open on North Williams

Coffee and mocktail whiz Ro Tam is joined in the kitchen by the Fenrir crew, with Tanglewood Chai slushies coming down the pike.

05/29/2018 By Karen Brooks

Word of Mouth

Notes from a 24-Hour Seattle Food Bender

Rollicking Southern food to $225 negronis, here's what to devour on a trip up north. Plus: tips from an Emerald City culinary insider.

05/22/2018 By Karen Brooks and Allecia Vermillion

Review

At Bistro Agnes, the Wild Duo behind Ox Plays French Food Straight

The downtown spot is good. But where's the spark?

05/22/2018 By Karen Brooks

First Look

With Holiday, Stumptown Founder Duane Sorenson Goes Sober, Vegan, and Gluten-Free

The face of third-wave coffee has quietly transformed his Roman Candle Bakery into a cool, plant-based breakfast and coffee shop on SE Division, blocks from his soon-to-open roasting company, Puff Coffee.

05/02/2018 By Karen Brooks

I'm With Her

Get to Know These 4 Standout Women in Portland's Culinary Scene

Food industry folks gush about some of their favorite local ladies.

04/24/2018 By Karen Brooks and Kelly Clarke

Word of Mouth

Meet Portland Chocolate Phenom Sebastian Cisneros

The Ecuador-born chocolatier opens Cloudforest, a shrine to chocolate making and chocolate drinking on SE Stark.

04/24/2018 By Karen Brooks

Eat Here Now

Where to Eat This Week: Apr 18–24

Multisensory salmon carpaccio at Bistro Agnes and buttery media noche at Palomar are your required eating for the week.

04/18/2018 By Eat Beat Team