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

Playful Southeast Asian Pop-Up Gado Gado Finds a Brick-and-Mortar Home

This spring, expect handmade noodles, curries, and dim sum in the Hollywood neighborhood.

01/16/2019 By Karen Brooks

Breaking News

Little Bird Bistro Unveils New Menu and Chef

Le Pigeon and Canard are Portland food stars. On January 8, famed chef Gabriel Rucker and wine maven Andy Fortgang will sharpen the focus on their downtown bistro.

01/07/2019 By Karen Brooks

Word of Mouth

Portland's High Priest of the Cheese Counter Offers Her Top Fromage Tips

Meet Katie Eshleman, your cheese consigliere.

12/21/2018 By Karen Brooks

Review

At Bernstein's, a Pair of Musical Nerds Make the Best Bagels in Portland

They're each slow-risen, hand-rolled, boiled, blistered, and good enough to step into the ring on the Lower East Side.

12/21/2018 By Karen Brooks

Breaking News

Bernstein’s Bagels Poised to Break Big with Second Location on N Russell

The funky little (and little-known) St Johns bagel shop will be destination-ready with actual heating, bona-fide seating, and legit, hand-rolled traditional bagels. Opening date: Dec 22.

11/21/2018 By Karen Brooks

Food Event Spotlight

Celebrated Chef Matt Lightner to Star at Holiday’s Plant-Based Pop-Up Dinner Series

With two Michelin stars in his back pocket, the former Portland chef will create a night of natural wonders at the SE Division hot spot on Dec 7. Don't miss it.

11/20/2018 By Karen Brooks

Word of Mouth

These Portland Chefs Are Trail Blazer Superfans

Leather Storrs and Alec Morrison are nuts for Rip City.

11/20/2018 By Karen Brooks

Food Event Spotlight

Famed elBulli Dessert Whiz Albert Adrià Is Coming to Portland

One of Spain’s most well-regarded modernists will talk creative process and failure while being painted.

10/26/2018 By Karen Brooks

Chef Diaries

Postcards from the Food Edge: Departure's Gregory Gourdet in Haiti

For PoMo’s chef-travel series, the one-time Top Chef star gives us a rare glimpse at his roots—the markets, street vendors, and restaurants of the Caribbean island.

10/24/2018 By Gregory Gourdet Edited by Karen Brooks

Dining Guide

Portland’s 50 Best Restaurants Right Now

Hungry? Here are top picks from Portland Monthly editors.

10/18/2018 By Eat Beat Team

Breaking News

Owners of Langbaan, Matt’s BBQ & Shipwreck to Open 'Thai Barbecue Cocktail Bar'

With EEM, coming this winter to N Williams, influential Thai restaurateur Earl Ninsom, Texas barbecue star Matt Vicedomini, and ace bartender Eric Nelson plan neo-tiki cocktails and Thai-spiced ribs.

10/10/2018 By Karen Brooks

Best Restaurants 2018

Portland's Best New Restaurants of 2018

Ten amazing dining destinations, five must-eat dishes, and one neighborhood on the rise. It's an excellent year to eat in Portland.

10/10/2018 By Karen Brooks, Kelly Clarke, and Benjamin Tepler Photography by Stuart Mullenberg

Best Restaurants 2018: Chicago Style

Portland's Best New Restaurants 2018: Sammich Crushes the Sandwich Game

The city's best new sandwich shop walks the smack talk.

10/10/2018 By Karen Brooks

Best Restaurants 2018: Eat This Now

Portland's 5 Must-Eat Dishes of 2018

Pan pizza to tinned fish to the dreamiest chocolate chip cookies, here's what we just can't quit this year.

10/10/2018 By Karen Brooks and Kelly Clarke

Best Restaurants 2018: No Scrap Left Behind

Portland Monthly's 2018 Chef of the Year: Karl Holl

At Park Avenue Fine Wines, a bootstrapping chef redefines farm-to-table cooking.

10/10/2018 By Karen Brooks

Best Restaurants 2018: Jungalow of Ambition

Portland Monthly's Rising Star Restaurant of 2018: Holiday

Instagram-ready smoothie bowls to fancy gluten-free toasts, Stumptown founder Duane Sorenson's new spot bridges the gap between vegan punks and tweezer chefs.

10/10/2018 By Karen Brooks

Best Restaurants 2018: Duck Stacks & Steam Burgers

Portland Monthly's 2018 Restaurant of the Year: Canard

With his third restaurant, famed Le Pigeon chef Gabriel Rucker proves he’s still an original.

10/10/2018 By Karen Brooks

Breaking News

Portland’s Iconic Wildwood Restaurant Space to Become Bar West

The revamped building will house a 40-seat restaurant/bar and an intimate event space from the team behind Union/Pine.

10/04/2018 By Karen Brooks

Chef Diaries

Postcards from the Food Edge: Ava Gene’s Joshua McFadden in Copenhagen

For PoMo’s chef-travel series, the Portland vegetable whisperer discovers Denmark’s natural wine bars, landmark pickles, and the ramen joint that David Chang loved.

09/25/2018 By Joshua McFadden Edited by Karen Brooks

Food Fests

The Beast That Was Feast 2018

We recap flaming beef, epic bites, and the food Carnie Wilson wants to f***.

09/19/2018 By Karen Brooks, Jordan Michelman, and Kelly Clarke