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 SANDWICHES 2014

Five Portland Sandwiches Made with Killer Bread

Artisan bakery loaves, custom-ordered rolls, and an “I Baked It My Way” mindset aren’t merely options in Portland. They’re the law.

03/03/2014 Edited by Karen Brooks

INTERVIEW

Q&A: Clyde Common’s New Chef Johnny Leach

Fresh from David Chang’s Momofuku empire, a Beaverton native gives a taste of things to come from Portland’s most anticipated menu makeover.

02/04/2014 By Karen Brooks

EAT HERE NOW

Leena Ezekiel's Thali Supper Club

Offering bright and colorful bites of regional Indian classics, a seasoned Portland cooking pro delivers flavor on a silver platter.

02/03/2014 By Karen Brooks

EAT THIS NOW

Dessert at Trifecta Tavern & Bakery

At Ken Forkish's bread-centric Portland hangout, pastry chef Eve Kuttemann gives us three reasons to order some sweets.

02/03/2014 By Karen Brooks

RESTAURANT REVIEW

Mideast Muddle at Levant

Scott Snyder's “French-Arabesque” hot spot on East Burnside needs flavor talks and concept negotiations.

02/03/2014 By Karen Brooks

BREAKING FOOD NEWS

Boke Bowl West to Open This Spring

A second branch of Southeast Portland’s popular ramen-for-all shop readies to open at Northwest 18th and Northrup in April

01/27/2014 By Karen Brooks

EAT THIS NOW

Neo-Pop Noodle House Boxer Ramen

Three reasons to slurp the goods at Micah Camden’s new experimental ramen epicenter.

01/02/2014 By Karen Brooks

ROUNDUP

Ten Things to Devour in 2014

Welcome to Portland's hunger games! Follow this guide to the city's most promising plates, and there will be no sacrificing flavor in the new year.

01/02/2014 Photography by Stuart Mullenberg By Karen Brooks

EAT HERE NOW

Lauretta Jean's: Biscuit Sandwich Heaven

With an expanded menu, Portland's premier pie shop emerges as Division's dessert destination, breakfast sandwich epicenter, and date night find.

12/10/2013 By Karen Brooks

BREAKING FOOD NEWS

Monday Night Pizza Coming to Ned Ludd

Jason French's Northeast Portland house of eccentricity will transform once a week with checkered cloths, hip hop, and wood-fired pizza.

12/10/2013 By Karen Brooks

PITCH IN

Portland's Best Sandwich?

Attention sandwich citizens: In 2014, Portland Monthly will build the ultimate sandwich list, but we need your help!

12/05/2013 By Karen Brooks

RESTAURANT & BAR UPDATES

Portland News to Chew

Great news for lovers of all kinds of pie, the Ruddick/Wood Tavern opens its doors, and Gabriel Rucker does Portland proud (again).

12/04/2013 By Karen Brooks and Roxanne Davis

ROUNDUP

Cooklandia

From books revealing the secret recipes of Portland's top chefs to essential DIY guides from local cooks, editors from New York to San Francisco are working the 503 area code.

12/02/2013 By Karen Brooks

DREAM TEAM

From Russia, With Love

USSR-born, Juilliard-trained, James Beard award-winning notables Vitaly Paley and Anya Von Bremzen, author of the buzzy Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking, are collaborating in PDX.

11/27/2013 By Karen Brooks

BREAKING FOOD NEWS

Tastebud’s Bagels Rise in Downtown Portland

Farmer market star Mark Doxtader brings his bagel love and seasonal farm toppings to a new cart at SW 10th and Alder.

11/26/2013 By Karen Brooks

DINNER FOR A CAUSE

Portland Chefs Team Up For Typhoon Relief

Check out our slide show of photos from the recent benefit dinner at Beast, featuring the city's top culinary talent, six killer courses, and $12,000 donated to Mercy Corps's typhoon relief efforts.

11/26/2013 Photography by Stuart Mullenberg By Karen Brooks

OPENING WATCH

Sneak Peek Inside Ken Forkish's Trifecta

As America’s first “bakery tavern” readies to rise on SE Sixth Avenue, we decode the vision and menu set to debut next week.

11/11/2013 By Karen Brooks

BEST RESTAURANTS 2013

The Ultimate Week of Portland Dining

Your guide to a week of serious noshing in America's most original food city

11/01/2013 By Karen Brooks

BEST RESTAURANTS 2013

Portland's 10 Best New Restaurants

Portland's next food chapter has arrived! We've curated the ultimate menu of the year: 10 spots ushering in a new era of eating. Pull up a seat and dig in.

11/01/2013 Photography by Stuart Mullenberg By Karen Brooks

BEST RESTAURANTS 2013

Dessert of the Year: Le Pigeon's Curried Carrot Cake

How Chef Gabriel Rucker and rising pastry talent Eli Gregory found the sweet spot of 2013.

11/01/2013 By Karen Brooks