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. 

RESTAURANT REVIEW

Holdfast Dining's One-Man Show

With just 10 stools and a rented kitchen, Will Preisch presents a pop-up vision of high-end eating: casual, personal, and thrilling.

10/01/2013 By Karen Brooks

BREAKING FOOD NEWS

Trigger to Close; Bunk Bar NE Will Rise

After serving its last meal on Sept 29, the year-old "Bunk-Mex" eatery will transform and join the Bunk family of sandwiches and anti-mixology.

09/25/2013 By Karen Brooks

FEAST PDX INTERVIEWS

Q&A: Bon Appetit's Andrew Knowlton

As Feast Portland readies to roll, America's pre-eminent food snoop reveals his Portland go-to spots, the next big food trends, and the best place for a Feast hangover.

09/17/2013 By Karen Brooks

FEAST PDX INTERVIEWS

Q&A: Night + Market's Kris Yenbamroong

He's obsessed with Thai drinking foods, DIY decor, and whiskey. Sound familiar? Pok Pok's soul mate dishes on why authenticity matters and how a makeshift dinner party grew into LA's most essential Thai food stop.

09/10/2013 By Karen Brooks

FEAST PDX INTERVIEWS

Q&A: Zahav's Michael Solomonov

Meet the iconoclastic, Israeli-born chef changing the Mid-East food conversation at Philly's lauded Zahav—and find out what he's cooking up for Feast Portland.

09/04/2013 By Karen Brooks

RESTAURANT REVIEW

Courtney Sproule, Party Girl

At Din Din, the food is French, the music rocks, and fun is the most important ingredient in the house.

09/03/2013 Photography by Stuart Mullenberg By Karen Brooks

BREAKING FOOD NEWS

St. Jack Heading to NW 23rd Ave

In December, SE Clinton's boisterous French eatery will grow bigger and bolder between NW Raleigh and Savier Streets.

08/21/2013 By Karen Brooks

SAVOR

Inside Le Pigeon's High-Flying Cookbook

Gabriel Rucker's new tome reveals stories and recipes from his James Beard Award-winning East Burnside kitchen.

08/16/2013 By Karen Brooks and Benjamin Tepler

BREAKING FOOD NEWS

Little T Baker Outpost to Open in Union Way

In late September, accomplished baker Tim Healea will roll the dice at Portland’s newest retail experiment, a curated tunnel of shops and micro-eateries stretching from SW Stark to Burnside.

08/14/2013 By Karen Brooks

EAT THIS NOW

The Ice Cream Sandwiches of Summer

For Lovely’s Fifty Fifty and Two Tarts Bakery, the ice cream sandwich isn’t just business—it’s personal.

08/07/2013 By Karen Brooks

BREAKING FOOD NEWS

Portland Chefs Collaborate on Gene Thiel Memorial Dinner

The late Gene Thiel helped feed Portland’s sense of place and cuisine. On Aug. 20, more than 30 top Portland chefs will stage a feast of food and community to honor an iconic farmer.

08/06/2013 By Karen Brooks

RESTAURANT REVIEW

The Next Generation of Portland Food Carts

Meet the culinary missionaries at Picnic, Tiffin Asha, the Cheese Plate PDX, and Olé Latte serving up a new wave of cart cuisine.

08/01/2013 By Karen Brooks

BREAKING FOOD NEWS

New Details for Kristen Murray's "Pastry Luncheonette" Maurice

One of Portland's premier pastry chefs will showcase sweet and savory pastries, Moroccan meat pies and nightly "dessert cuisine" this fall.

07/30/2013 By Karen Brooks and Allison Jones

IN MEMORIAM

Gene Thiel, 1936-2013

The potato whisperer and icon of the Portland Farmers Market has passed away, leaving his Prairie Creek Farm in Joseph, Oregon to his family.

07/30/2013 By Karen Brooks

EAT HERE NOW

Three Reasons to Love Ned Ludd

Portland's epicenter of quirkiness and farm-fresh intensity just keeps getting better

07/24/2013 By Karen Brooks

BREAKING FOOD NEWS

What You Need To Know About Roman Candle Bakery

Stumptown coffee lord Duane Sorenson bakes up ambition, artisan breads, and casual dining next door to Ava Gene’s, opening on Monday, July 8.

07/03/2013 By Karen Brooks

RESTAURANT REVIEW

Modern Art

At Castagna, Justin Woodward is sending local food in a fresh direction—restrained, delicate, and dressed to kill.

07/01/2013 By Karen Brooks

EAT HERE NOW

Breakfast at Din Din and Imperial

Say good morning to two fresh spins on the a.m. ritual, without the wait.

06/26/2013 By Karen Brooks

BREAKING FOOD NEWS

The Sugar Cube to Open Bakery Cafe on Alberta

Food cart celeb and dessert wiz Kir Jensen readies to open her first brick and mortar in August.

06/13/2013 By Karen Brooks

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Tiffin Asha Brings Creative Indian Snacks to Northeast

On NE Alberta, inspired Southern Indian plates meet Portland-style creativity in the cart we've been waiting for.

06/12/2013 By Karen Brooks