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. 

Entertaining Guide

Portland Monthly's 2018 Chef of the Year Will Make You Dinner in Your Own Kitchen

Yep, Karl Holl makes house calls.

08/27/2019 By Karen Brooks

Word of Mouth

Real Good Food Unites Icelandic Kelp, Vermouth on Tap—and Jim

Even in Portland, there’s nothing quite like it.

08/27/2019 By Karen Brooks

Restaurant Review

Is Eem Portland’s Best New Restaurant Right Now?

A trio of Portland talents bring Thai cooking, Texas ‘cue, and tropical vibes to the table.

08/27/2019 By Karen Brooks Photography by Stuart Mullenberg

Entertaining Guide

17 Bars and Restaurants That Will Host Your Next Bash

These sweet local spots cook the eats, serve the drinks, and—most importantly—clean up.

08/27/2019 By Karen Brooks, Kelly Clarke, Monica Juárez, and Conner Reed

FIRST LOOK

G-Love is Poised to Be Portland’s Next-Level Farm-Fresh Restaurant

Everything you need to know as the San Francisco vet chef readies to open his “reverse steakhouse” on August 28.

08/23/2019 By Karen Brooks

Breaking News

Ava Gene’s New Brunch has an Opening Date: Labor Day Weekend

All the deets on Portland’s most anticipated new brunch from star chef Joshua McFadden, babka waffles to English muffin burgers.

08/19/2019 By Karen Brooks

Breaking News

Standout Coffee and Chocolate Bar Cloudforest is Closing

The vaunted Cloudforest chocolate line will live on, but Sebastian Cisneros’ ambitious chocolate factory and espresso bar will shutter Monday.

08/05/2019 By Karen Brooks

Word of Mouth

JinJu is Your Neighborhood Master Patisserie

“People don’t give a shit what other people do in Portland. You don’t have a look a certain way here."

07/24/2019 By Karen Brooks

Restaurant Review

Scotch Lodge is Portland’s Best New Bar

Tommy Klus brings world class whiskey to the people.

07/24/2019 By Karen Brooks Photography by Stuart Mullenberg

Cowabunga 2019

Cowabunga Q&A: Kim Jong Grillin’s Han Ly Hwang

The Korean cart competitor talks kimchi, '90s salads, and the pitfalls of trying to re-create fast food.

06/25/2019 By Karen Brooks

Word of Mouth

Marshall’s Haute Sauce Bottles the Farmers Market

The first week of every month the Marshalls offer a new, fresh condiment of uncommon deliciousness.

06/25/2019 By Karen Brooks

Sweet Spot

Is Portland the Vegan Ice Cream Capital of America?

Portland makes a serious case for #1.

06/25/2019 By Karen Brooks

Breaking News

Iconic Northwest Grocer City Market to Close August 18

The collective home of Pastaworks, Chop Butchery, and Newman’s Fish Market will soon end its esteemed run on Northwest 21st Avenue.

06/18/2019 By Karen Brooks

Feast 2019

A Sneak Peek of Feast Portland’s Hottest Dinner Series

Tickets drop June 7, but we’ve got the jump. This year’s best seats? A star-packed night of African roots cooking, a high-end (and spice-packed) Thai menu, and some very mod Turkish food.

06/03/2019 By Karen Brooks

EAT WITH YOUR EYES

First Look: Modernist Berlu Opens June 13

Chef Vince Nguyen’s tiny, hard-core locavore Belmont restaurant has big ambitions.

06/03/2019 By Karen Brooks

Word of Mouth

Chef José Chesa’s Ataula Is Making a Quiet Comeback

With special paellas and modernist bread and chocolate, the Spanish spot is firing on all cylinders.

05/28/2019 By Karen Brooks

Breaking News

Departure Chef Gregory Gourdet Inks Major Cookbook Deal

With help from cookbook wiz JJ Goode, the new tome will explore the Top Chef star’s lifelong culinary influences.

05/21/2019 By Karen Brooks

The Oregon Woman 2019

Meet the Portland Woman Penning the Words for Nike’s LeBron James Commercials

She's a comics nerd, marketing whiz, and possible superhero.

04/23/2019 By Karen Brooks

Best Breakfasts 2019: Legends

5 All-Time Portland Breakfast Greats

Go. Order anything. Leave happy.

04/23/2019 By Kelly Clarke

Best Breakfasts 2019

12 Breakfast Dishes You’ve Got to Eat Right Now

From fancy Australian eggs and bacon to chilaquiles and the city’s first great babka, this is what you need come sunup.

04/23/2019 By Karen Brooks, Benjamin Tepler, and Kelly Clarke