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. 

Food Review

10 Portland Dishes Not to Miss in 2021

Even in a pandemic, Portland chefs, bakers, and food cart cooks are feeding our minds and souls, deliciously.

01/05/2021 By Karen Brooks and Katherine Chew Hamilton

Year in Review

"We're Not Backing Down."

Portland chef Naomi Pomeroy on reinventing herself and the future of independent restaurants.

12/30/2020 By Karen Brooks

Year in Review

Best Chef Interviews of 2020

In raw conversations with PoMo's Karen Brooks, Portland chefs Andy Ricker, Vitaly Paley, Gregory Gourdet, and Ghaith Sahib grappled with fear, loss, r...

12/30/2020 By Karen Brooks

Year in Review

The Departed: Sorrowful for Portland's Restaurant Scene

Portland tragically lost nearly 100 food and drink spots this year. For PoMo's food critic, some felt like old friends.

12/29/2020 By Karen Brooks

Holiday Guide

Gifts for the Food Lovers on Your List

Embrace the spirit of giving—all while supporting local food businesses.

12/10/2020 By Katherine Chew Hamilton

Food Review

Portland’s 20 Best Cheeseburgers, Exhaustively Argued and Ranked

Yes, we’re dropping 5,032 words on the city’s classic burger revival. Meet the Burger Cabal.

12/04/2020 By Karen Brooks, Bill Oakley, Gary Okazaki, Pauline Lewis, and Drew Lewis

Light a Fire

This Portland-Based Organization Is Helping Kids Get the Healthy Meals They Need

Since 2017, Our Giving Table has been cooking and delivering nutritious, mom-made meals for food-insecure kids.

12/02/2020 By Karen Brooks

Breaking News

Chef Naomi Pomeroy Reveals Her Next Project: Ripe Cooperative

In late November, Portland's iconic Beast will morph into a new kind of market—boutique deli meets Mister Rogers factory tours.

10/30/2020 By Karen Brooks

Food Interview

Vitaly Paley on the Death of Imperial and Life at Paley’s Place

An icon of local eating returns to his original kitchen in a do-or-die food world.

10/28/2020 By Karen Brooks

Food News

Every Doughnut at Fills, Ranked

What you need to know about Portland's first Berliner shop (yes, you want the maple bacon butterscotch).

10/15/2020 By Karen Brooks

Food News

Andina Is Ready to Be a Game Changer Again

The Peruvian dining institution, reopening Oct. 26, sees its future as a cultural hub under a younger generation.

10/15/2020 By Karen Brooks

Food Listings

Put These New Portland Food Spots on Your Radar

Bring some delicious diversion into your life with these new eateries.

10/10/2020 By Karen Brooks, Katherine Chew Hamilton, and Marty Patail

Food Fighters

Best Restaurants 2020

Amid the coronavirus, cooks and places are digging into self and spirit, backed by cheerfully good eats.

10/06/2020 By Karen Brooks, Katherine Chew Hamilton, and Jenni Moore

Best Restaurants 2020

The Pandemic Crushed Restaurants. But Bar King Had Two Aces up Their Sleeve.

With two talented pros, Bar King and the Bakery at Bar King is a hot hand.

10/06/2020 By Karen Brooks

Best Restaurants 2020

Magna’s Filipino Treats and Berlu’s Vietnamese Bakery Soar

Pandan, the floral-grassy-neon green “vanilla” and food coloring of Southeast Asia, is the ingredient of the year.

10/06/2020 By Karen Brooks

Best Restaurants 2020

Oma's Takeaway Mixes Wild Curries, Disco Balls, and Crazy Parfaits

Gado Gado’s offspring has its own home and purpose in the former Whiskey Soda Lounge, blessed with spacious backyard outdoor seating.

10/06/2020 By Karen Brooks

Best Restaurants 2020

By Any Measure, Tonari Is Next-Level Take-Out

The spirit of Okinawa is healthy, happy, and living on in Portland

10/06/2020 By Karen Brooks

Best Restaurants 2020

Malka Shows There Can Be Beauty in Chaos

Call it global hippie food from a mad scientist or a tornado twisting of Thai food and Shabbat. We call it delicious.

09/29/2020 By Karen Brooks

Best Restaurants 2020

Matta’s Richard Le Remixes Vietnam with His San Jose Roots

What began in late 2018 as straightforward family recipes now embraces edgy remixes of Vietnam and America.

09/25/2020 By Karen Brooks

Breaking Food News

Seattle Pop-Up Hit Rough Draft Burger Shop Opening in Portland August 27

Because we need more smash burgers to argue about

08/26/2020 By Karen Brooks