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. 

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

Breaking News

After 17 Years, Portland Icon Café Castagna Will Close Mid-May

The SE Hawthorne café calls it quits next month. Get the vaunted burger while you can.

04/10/2018 By Karen Brooks

Breaking News

Le Pigeon's Sister Restaurant, Canard, Opens April 16. We've Got Menu Details.

"Wild French bar food" only hints at Gabriel Rucker's new menu, with a major, geeky wine list from partner Andrew Fortgang.

04/05/2018 By Karen Brooks

Breaking News

Hat Yai to Team with Modernist Pop-Up Jolie Laide and (Maybe!) Top Chef Winner Mei Lin

Thai restaurateur Earl Ninsom hopes to bring the crew together for a trio of restaurants on SE Belmont in 2018.

04/03/2018 By Karen Brooks

Breaking News

Cloudforest Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Factory & Espresso Bar Opens on SE Stark

Portland's premier chocolate maker, Sebastian Cisneros, rebrands the Cocanu name with a brick-and-mortar, drinking chocolate, and wild new bars.

03/28/2018 By Karen Brooks

Breaking News

Downtown's Bistro Agnes Launches Lunch Service

James Beard Award-winning chefs Greg and Gabi Denton bring their downtown French comfort menu into the daylight.

03/28/2018 By Karen Brooks

Word of Mouth

Caffe Mingo Is a Portland Restaurant Success Story 25 Years in the Making

The city’s food scene ought to take notes from a pair of cool old pasta dudes on NW 21st Avenue.

03/27/2018 By Karen Brooks

Word of Mouth

Get Schooled at This Family-Run Vancouver Pho Spot

Pho Le serves up a serious bowl of beef noodle soup—and a how-to lesson.

02/27/2018 By Karen Brooks

Review

Can Chef Erik Van Kley Vault Belmont's Accanto into a Citywide Must-Eat?

The longtime restaurant ace slid into the unassuming neighborhood spot in November. Can he make it worthy of a drive across town?

02/27/2018 By Karen Brooks

Global Comfort Food

We Asked 20 Portland Chefs and Foodies: What Tastes Like Home?

From hearty Haitian soups to pupusas, here's what makes these locals feel safe and loved—and where to score these touchstone eats.

02/27/2018 Edited by Kelly Clarke By Karen Brooks, Ramona DeNies, Zach Dundas, Rebecca Jacobson, Pechluck Laskey, Fiona McCann, Benjamin Tepler, and Molly Woodstock

Breaking News

Bollywood Theater’s Troy MacLarty to Launch Churchgate Station Supper Club

The Chez Panisse alum heads back to the kitchen this summer for an intimate new supper club, next to his popular Mumbai street-food emporium on SE Division.

02/13/2018 By Karen Brooks

Breaking News

Xico’s Playful Mexican Kitchen Adds Lunch

SE Division’s house of fresh-ground corn tortillas, detailed salsas, and killer drinking chocolate opens for a midday meal.

02/05/2018 By Karen Brooks

Dining Guide

18 Portland Restaurants for a Romantic Night Out

Planning a date with that special someone? Peep this list first.

01/30/2018 By Eat Beat Team

Word of Mouth

Prediction: Sammich Will Win This Year's World Series of Pastrami

The Portland sandwich shop serves smoked meats, loaded fries, and plenty of profanity.

01/30/2018 By Karen Brooks

Review

How Sterling Coffee Roasters Found the Heart of Portland Café Culture

After 12 years, a new location captures all that is great about these guys.

01/30/2018 By Karen Brooks

Eat This Now

What to Eat This Week: Jan 24–30

From "quinotto" at Andina to a banh mi burger at Aviary, these are the things you must eat this week.

01/24/2018 By Eat Beat Team

Breaking News

Celebrated Chef Cathy Whims to Open Enoteca Nostrana

A mod wine bar with iconic Italian eats and global vintages will rise in March, next to the venerable Nostrana on SE Morrison.

01/24/2018 By Karen Brooks

Breaking News

A Second Pizza Jerk to Replace Just-Shuttered Bunk Sandwiches on SE Morrison

As the original destination for Portland’s indie sandwich chain folds, another slice of co-owner Tommy Habetz's cult pizza shop rises.

01/15/2018 By Karen Brooks

Breaking News

Ox Owners Greg and Gabi Denton to Open French Bistro Jan 18

With Bistro Agnes, the James Beard winners are ready to dig into their love of Parisian comfort food. We've got a first look.

01/10/2018 By Karen Brooks