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 RESTAURANTS

Portland Monthly's Best Restaurants Dinner Series

Portland Monthly hands out awards to three top restaurants in a year of great eating. Behind the scenes at a trio of rollicking ceremonial dinners at Langbaan, Ataula, and Nodoguro.

12/10/2014 Photography by Rachel Ritchie and Karen Brooks By Benjamin Tepler

BREAKING NEWS

Menu Sneak Peek: Boke Bowl West’s Playful Dim Sum Brunch

Portland’s ramen experimenters juggle the creative and the classic in their new “Boke Sum” menu, rolling out on carts this weekend.

12/09/2014 By Karen Brooks

WORD OF MOUTH

Food Critic Karen Brooks Dishes On What to Eat, Right Now.

Portland Monthly's restaurant guru shares her obsessions and under-the-radar finds of the month.

12/01/2014 By Karen Brooks

HIT LIST

Cozy Up with Portland's Best Hot Chocolate

Unfiltered passion, really good chocolate, no apologies. Get ready to rethink the fireside drink with these five haute mugs.

12/01/2014 By Karen Brooks

WINTER BUCKET LIST

14 Things You Must Eat and Drink This Winter

From flaming cocktails to Sichuan hot pot, we've got more than a dozen tips for giving your appetite a big, warm hug.

12/01/2014 By Benjamin Tepler and Molly Woodstock Edited by Kelly Clarke

FOOD AND DRINK EVENTS

Eat Beat Weekly Planner

James Beard Public Market Open House at OMSI, Madrid Chocolatería Pop Up at the Meadow, La Fête du Macaron at Bar Vivant, and more upcoming food and drink events around Portland!

11/26/2014 By Benjamin Tepler

DRINK THIS NOW

Go Beyond Pumpkin Spice Lattes with 2 Fresh Fall Sips

Say hello to Either/Or’s “hot buttered yam” and Eb & Bean’s doughnut-sided sipping chocolate.

11/05/2014 By Karen Brooks

BEST RESTAURANTS

Portland Monthly's Restaurant Dream Team 2014: John Taboada and Giovanna Parolari

The gospel according to the masterminds behind Navarre, Luce, and Angel Face

11/03/2014 By Karen Brooks

BEST RESTAURANTS

Portland Monthly's Best Bar 2014: Pepe Le Moko

Where you want to be when Armageddon finally hits

11/03/2014 By Karen Brooks

BEST RESTAURANTS

Portland Monthly's Trend of the Year 2014: Pop-Ups

In a city allergic to white tablecloths, pop-ups are the new special occasion.

11/03/2014 By Karen Brooks

BEST RESTAURANTS

Portland Monthly's Best Sequel 2014: Bollywood Theater

Bollywood Theater weaves Mumbai street eats into a compelling food drama.

11/03/2014 By Karen Brooks

BEST RESTAURANTS

Portland Monthly's Best Case for Simplicity: Davenport

At Davenport, two shy dudes geek out on pristine ingredients, insider wines, and the world’s coolest glasses.

11/03/2014 By Karen Brooks

WORD OF MOUTH

3 Things You Must Eat This November

Portland Monthly food critic Karen Brooks dishes on the restaurants, obsessions, and under-the-radar finds of the month.

11/03/2014 By Karen Brooks

PDX FEASTING

Portland's 10 Best Restaurants of 2014

Unrestaurants. Microcuisines. Ultra-personal food experiences. Welcome to the next frontier of Portland dining.

11/03/2014 By Karen Brooks

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Three Reasons To Try Café Castagna’s New Middle East Brunch

Crackling Yemenite flatbread to cardamom breakfast donuts, Sunday mornings at SE Hawthorne’s veteran bistro just got interesting.

10/21/2014 By Karen Brooks

CHEF LIFE

Where Do Portland's Best Chefs Eat on their Own Time?

From pop-up chefs who gorge on Asian noodles, empire-builders who lunch at “prison-like” taquerias, and a James Beard Award winner who swears by Elmer’s—Portland chefs devour this town.

10/21/2014 By Kelly Clarke

BREAKING NEWS

Departure’s Gregory Gourdet Launches Monthly Pop-up Dinners

With chef Gregory Gourdet’s new “Compass Series,” a fierce Top Chef competitor puts a stamp on Japanese, Chinese, and Haitian cuisines.

10/20/2014 By Karen Brooks

EAT HERE NOW

Bold New Mexican Flavors at Xico

Division Street’s ambitious Mexican eatery unveils a new wave of creativity: complex molé flights and meticulous carne asada spreads

10/14/2014 By Karen Brooks

BEST RESTAURANTS

Portland Monthly's Destination of the Year 2014: Maurice

With quirk and determination, Kristen Murray brings a blissful Swedish tradition to town.

10/10/2014 By Karen Brooks

BEST RESTAURANTS

Portland Monthly's Cuisine of the Year 2014: Kachka and DaNet's Russian Party

With vastly different approaches, a veteran Portland chef and two newcomers to the scene are creating a people’s party you want to join.

10/09/2014 By Karen Brooks