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. 

First Impressions

Is PaaDee’s New Issan Menu Portland’s Next Thai Food Breakout?

Earl Ninsom dives into the cuisine of Northeastern Thailand next door to his acclaimed Langbaan on SE 28th Ave.

06/20/2017 By Karen Brooks

Dining Guide

13 Portland Restaurants for Serious Beer Drinkers

From perfect pilsners for summer swilling to cask-conditioned fruit beer, these spots take their taps as seriously as their plates.

06/12/2017 By Eat Beat Team

Word of Mouth

The Inside Scoop on Fifty Licks, Portland's Suddenly Hot Ice Cream Shop

With two locations and a killer affogato Cubano, Chad Draizin's spot is finally ready for its close-up.

06/12/2017 By Karen Brooks

Restaurant Review

Han Oak Is the Most Fun Restaurant in Portland Right Now

From Korean dumplings to a raucous backyard vibe, Peter Cho's Northeast spot rules.

06/12/2017 By Karen Brooks

Eat Here Now

Where to Eat This Week: May 23–30

From London Fog nitro on tap at Steven Smith to flatbread spreads at Shalom Y'all, these are the things you must eat and drink this week.

05/23/2017 By Eat Beat Team

Dining Guide

17 Portland Burger Joints Better Than Your Backyard

From all-American to Chinese street-style to a Mexican hamburguesa, here's where to score some of the city's top burgers.

05/15/2017 By Eat Beat Team

Word of Mouth

This Vancouver Food Cart Makes the Best Pizza You've Never Heard Of

Pizzeria La Sorrentina serves true flash-cooked Neapolitan pies in a parking lot.

05/15/2017 By Karen Brooks

West End: Food & Drink

Where to Eat in Portland's West End

Subterranean cocktail bunkers, a Northwest brunch mecca, and one of the city's best food cart pods. Explore this neighborhood while you're hungry.

05/15/2017 Edited by Kelly Clarke By Staff

James Beard Awards

Portland Monthly Food Critic Karen Brooks Wins a 2017 James Beard Award

Our own master wordsmith, veteran Portland food voice, and all-around punk rocker takes home the James Beard journalism prize, alongside accolades for two other Oregonians.

04/25/2017 By Benjamin Tepler

Food Event Spotlight

Chefs Week PDX Takes a Breather—But Still Has Two Big Dinners in the Works for 2017

Gregory Gourdet's annual four-day blitz is going on vacation. Eat Beat has the lowdown on the two major events planned in its absence—and where to get your tickets.

04/19/2017 By Karen Brooks

Word of Mouth

This Portland Cookbook Might Put Meat Out of Business. It's That Good.

Joshua McFadden's Six Seasons sees vegetables through fresh eyes.

04/17/2017 By Karen Brooks

The Wild Slice

New York. Chicago. Detroit. Portland? Making the Case for a New American Pizza City

We used to be a boring pizza town. Now we may be living the nation's most fascinating life of pie.

04/17/2017 By Karen Brooks Photography by Stuart Mullenberg

Breaking News

Ken Norris Out at Headwaters, the Heathman's Splashy Hotel Restaurant

The ambitious dining room has parted ways with Norris and pastry chef Jeff McCarthy. Owners Vitaly and Kimberly Paley promise bigger fish to come.

04/10/2017 By Karen Brooks

Dining Guide

34 Women-Run Portland Restaurants We Love

Who run the (food) world? These ladies.

03/20/2017 By Eat Beat Team

Word of Mouth

What to Eat at SuperBite's New Happy Hour

From a $10 double-decker burger to $2 microplates, here's how to maximize a meal at the downtown restaurant.

03/20/2017 By Karen Brooks

Review

Chef Naoko's Radical, Farm-Fresh Japanese Cooking Lures a Star Architect

The downtown bento spot morphs from anti-space to high-design statement, but Naoko Tamura's bold cooking remains center stage.

03/20/2017 By Karen Brooks

Eat This Now

Where to Eat This Week: March 8–15

From Sichuan egg noodles at Wares to a crêpe brunch at Suzette, these are the things you must eat this week.

03/07/2017 By Eat Beat Team

Breaking News

The Word on Micah Camden’s Heart Pizza, Opening Friday, February 24

The cofounder of mini-chain breakouts Blue Star Donuts and Little Big Burger unveils his new Portland pizza concept and spills the beans on another project: fast, fresh Chinese in LA.

02/22/2017 By Karen Brooks

Cheat Sheet

Where to Score the Best Three-Course Deals during Portland Dining Month

Here are our 15 top picks for March’s money-saving bonanza.

02/22/2017 By Benjamin Tepler

Word of Mouth

Slurp Your Way through Some of Portland's Finest Soups

Yes, there's the ramen boom. But that's a whole other story. Right now, Portland soup makers excel at small-batch Vietnamese, remodeled classics, and poetic seasonal expressions. Here are a few favorites.

02/20/2017 By Karen Brooks