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. 

Summer Eats: Fun in the Sun

11 Amazing Ways to Savor Summer in Portland

Garden bowers. Yacht-side patios. Slurping banana pudding milkshakes and swilling beers with llamas. We’ve got ideas.

06/19/2018 By Karen Brooks, Kelly Clarke, Rebecca Jacobson, Sam Pape, Benjamin Tepler, and Sarah Williams

Word of Mouth

Portland's Real-Deal Farm-to-Table Cooking Isn't Where You'd Expect

Namely in a downtown wine shop.

06/19/2018 By Karen Brooks

Breaking News

First Look: Castagna Café Reboot OK Omens Is Ready for Prime Time

The casual modern wine bar from Michelin-caliber chef Justin Woodward and rising somm star Brent Braun is now open, and we’ve got the details.

06/07/2018 By Karen Brooks

Breaking News

Feast Portland’s Hottest Ticket Boasts 3 Power Lady Chefs, 4 Michelin Stars, and 1 Night of Serious Eating

SF's Dominique Crenn, NYC's Emma Bengtsson, and Portland’s Kristen Murray collaborate at September’s food fest. We got details. 

06/05/2018 By Karen Brooks

Breaking News

Woodblock Chocolate Readies a Giant 'Manufactory' and Café Off NE Broadway

Portland’s cacao fanatics promise 1,500 square feet of chocolate bon-bons, drinks, and cookies, plus an up-close look at their bean-to-bar process.

05/30/2018 By Karen Brooks

First Look

Either/Or Is Officially Open on North Williams

Coffee and mocktail whiz Ro Tam is joined in the kitchen by the Fenrir crew, with Tanglewood Chai slushies coming down the pike.

05/29/2018 By Karen Brooks

Word of Mouth

Notes from a 24-Hour Seattle Food Bender

Rollicking Southern food to $225 negronis, here's what to devour on a trip up north. Plus: tips from an Emerald City culinary insider.

05/22/2018 By Karen Brooks and Allecia Vermillion

Review

At Bistro Agnes, the Wild Duo behind Ox Plays French Food Straight

The downtown spot is good. But where's the spark?

05/22/2018 By Karen Brooks

First Look

With Holiday, Stumptown Founder Duane Sorenson Goes Sober, Vegan, and Gluten-Free

The face of third-wave coffee has quietly transformed his Roman Candle Bakery into a cool, plant-based breakfast and coffee shop on SE Division, blocks from his soon-to-open roasting company, Puff Coffee.

05/02/2018 By Karen Brooks

I'm With Her

Get to Know These 4 Standout Women in Portland's Culinary Scene

Food industry folks gush about some of their favorite local ladies.

04/24/2018 By Karen Brooks and Kelly Clarke

Word of Mouth

Meet Portland Chocolate Phenom Sebastian Cisneros

The Ecuador-born chocolatier opens Cloudforest, a shrine to chocolate making and chocolate drinking on SE Stark.

04/24/2018 By Karen Brooks

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