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. 

Best New Restaurants 2019: Trends

Seven Spots Expanding Portland’s Food Map

In 2019, Guam, Burma, the Philippines, and other nations got more room at the table.

10/18/2019 By Karen Brooks, Kelly Clarke, and Marty Patail

Best New Restaurants 2019

Portland Monthly’s Best New Restaurants 2019

Asian flavors—wild to traditional—ruled the day, a scotch destination was born, vegan fine dining got serious, and two bakeries cracked our list. And that’s just a taster of 2019. Pull up a seat.

10/18/2019 By Karen Brooks, Kelly Clarke, Benjamin Tepler, and Ramona DeNies Photography by Stuart Mullenberg

Best New Restaurants 2019

Best New Restaurants 2019: Keep Your Eye on These Runners-Up

Yonder and Erizo just missed the cut for our list of the year’s Best New Restaurants, but we’ll be back to see what happens at these high-profile spots.

10/18/2019 By Karen Brooks and Ramona DeNies

Best New Restaurants 2019

Berlu Serves the Most Unpretentious Pretentious Tasting Menu in Town

Chef Vince Nguyen’s Zen-modernist menus find beauty in everyday things.

10/18/2019 By Karen Brooks

Best New Restaurants 2019

At JinJu Patisserie, a Pair of Korean-Born Vegas Expats Find Portland’s Sweet Spot

Butter-bomb croissants to lime yuzu bonbons, this place is a keeper.

10/18/2019 By Karen Brooks

Best New Restaurants 2019

Portland Monthly’s Restaurateur of the Year 2019 is Akkapong “Earl” Ninsom

How the man behind Eem, Hat Yai, and Langaan rocketed from a rookie Thai cook to Portland’s most influential food player.

10/18/2019 By Karen Brooks

Best New Restaurants 2019

Locavore Upstart Farm Spirit Has Evolved into a Legit Vegan Fine Dining Destination

There’s nothing else quite like it in America.

10/18/2019 By Karen Brooks

Best New Restaurants 2019

Eem is Portland Monthly’s 2019 Restaurant of the Year

Meaty, spicy-sweet, and ridiculously fun, Thai tiki barbecue is what we need in 2019.

10/18/2019 By Karen Brooks

Breaking News

Ataula Team to Open Masia Inside Downtown’s New Hyatt Centric Hotel

Jose Chesa will bring his brand of modernist Spanish cooking to breakfast, lunch, and dinner starting January 2020.

10/12/2019 By Benjamin Tepler

Restaurant Closures

Little Bird to Close on October 27

The once-standout French bistro from star chef Gabriel Rucker will end its nine-year run

10/08/2019 By Benjamin Tepler

Food News

Salt & Straw Is Taking Its Talents to Miami

With 19 locations on the West Coast, Portland’s artisan ice cream company is making a big play across the country.

10/02/2019 By Karen Brooks

Word of Mouth

K-Pop, Cat Cakes, and Cotton Candy Coffee at Soro Soro

This new Korean coffee and dessert shop on E Burnside is as cute as it gets.

09/23/2019 By Karen Brooks

Food For Thought

How Feast Portland Set The Table for New, Collaborative “Chef Dinners”

Meals that celebrated sober culture or trace the African diaspora reveal how local chefs are using Feast to tell their stories.

09/18/2019 By Karen Brooks

Feast 2019

Feast Portland 2019: Notes from a First-Timer

Great bites, long lines, and a hungover trudge through the mud—dispatches from PDX's four-day food blitz.

09/16/2019 By Conner Reed

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 Dixon

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