Food Editor & Critic

Karen 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, film/TV junkie, and food author. She’s written nine books to date, most recently a book on Portland’s punk-rock food scene, The Mighty Gastropolis: A Journey Through America’s New Food Culture. 

Word of Mouth

Slurp Your Way through Some of Portland's Finest Soups

Yes, there's the ramen boom. But that's a whole other story. Right now, Portland soup makers excel at small-batch Vietnamese, remodeled classics, and poetic season expressions. Here are a few favorites.

02/20/2017 By Karen Brooks

Coffee Guide: International Bakeries

Pastries without Borders: 6 Globe-Trotting Portland Bakeries

Swedish cinnamon knots to Japanese kare doughnuts, butter is a universal language.

02/20/2017 By Kelly Clarke, Karen Brooks, and Benjamin Tepler

Coffee Guide: Morning Glories

Portland's 10 Best Pastries

Canelé to croissants, crostata to coffee cake, this is why we get out of bed.

02/20/2017 By Benjamin Tepler, Kelly Clarke, and Karen Brooks

Coffee Guide: Standout Shops

16 Places in Portland to Drink Coffee Right Now

From hand-roasted beans to double-decker buses to scene-stealing décor, these destinations are in a class of their own.

02/20/2017 By Benjamin Tepler, Karen Brooks, Kelly Clarke, and Rebecca Jacobson

Breaking News

The Early Word on Star Chef Chris Cosentino’s Jackrabbit

The celebrated, offal-obsessed San Francisco chef prepares to open his first Portland restaurant. Here’s what you need to know.

02/01/2017 By Karen Brooks

Hit List

Portland's Most Kid-Friendly Restaurants

Sticky hands, temper tantrums, and picky eaters are welcome at these 24 eateries.

01/25/2017 By Eat Beat Team

Breaking News

SuperBite and Kask Launch Bold Happy Hour

Get ready for $2 super bites, Nashville-style hot fried cauliflower, and a remodeled legend from star chefs Greg and Gabi Denton: the double-stacked cheeseburger.

01/16/2017 By Karen Brooks

Breaking News

The Inside Scoop on Tiffin Asha’s New Brick-and-Mortar, Opening January 5 on NE Killingsworth

The standout Southern Indian food cart puts down roots, with a new collection of playful dosas, kebabs, appam pancakes, and one very labor-intensive cup of coffee.

01/04/2017 By Karen Brooks

Word of Mouth

How Milk Glass Mrkt Got Its Groove

Irresistible baked goods. A killer veggie sando. Retro-mod style. Here’s why the N Killingsworth cafe-market needs to be on your list.

12/20/2016 By Karen Brooks

Restaurant Review

Baker Ken Forkish Masters a New Collection of Outstanding Breads

Crusty levain loaves to butter-crackling spelt croissants, the lord of Ken’s Artisan Bakery has a new swagger at Trifecta Annex.

12/20/2016 By Karen Brooks

Eat This Now

Where to Eat This Week: Dec 7–14

From caramel apple cider at Sterling Coffee Roasters to stuffed mussels at Headwaters, these are the things you must eat and drink this week.

12/07/2016 By Eat Beat Team

Local Giving

Give Thanks at Coffeehouse Northwest—and Raise Money for Immigrants and Refugees

The local cafe's long-running Thanksgiving charity free-for-all returns, this year benefiting Portland's Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization.

11/22/2016 By Kelly Clarke

Word of Mouth

The 11 Best Things Food Critic Karen Brooks Ate in 2016

Beef tartare to old-school pizza to Japanese shaved ice, here are the year’s defining dishes.

11/14/2016 By Karen Brooks

Eat Here Now

Where to Eat This Week: Nov 1–8

Lunch at Luce, crêpes at Little Bird, and bone broth at Broth Bar are your required eating for the week.

10/31/2016 By Eat Beat Team

Breaking News

Chef Johnny Leach to Open Playful Mexican Spot Chalino

A pair of Stray Dogs and Xico alums rethink Mexican on North Williams this winter.

10/26/2016 By Karen Brooks

Best Restaurants 2016

Portland’s Best New Restaurants of 2016

Dynamic change, new players, and deliciously bold concepts executed with serious attention to detail: here are the 12 places that define Portland’s food scene right now.

10/10/2016 By Karen Brooks, Kelly Clarke, and Benjamin Tepler

Best Restaurants 2016: Bucket List

30 Portland Restaurants for the Ultimate Local Dining Bucket List

Hope you’re hungry. Here are 30 top picks from Portland Monthly editors.

10/10/2016 By Kelly Clarke, Karen Brooks, and Benjamin Tepler

Best Restaurants 2016: Repeat Offenders

Four Portland Dishes We Ate Over and Over and Over Again in 2016

Fried catfish to porridge (no, really), we just can’t get enough.

10/10/2016 By Benjamin Tepler, Karen Brooks, and Kelly Clarke

Best Restaurants 2016: Brunch Bliss

Three Exceptional New Portland Brunches—Without Lines

Only chumps wait for their waffles.

10/10/2016 By Karen Brooks and Zach Dundas

Best Restaurants: On the Verge

Four Intriguing Portland Restaurants Opening Soon

From lavish Russian tea service to pakora-fried chicken, these spots should light up our winter.

10/10/2016 By Kelly Clarke, Karen Brooks, and Ramona DeNies