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. 


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


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


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


Portland Monthly's Rising Star Chef 2014: Nodoguro's Ryan Roadhouse

Trained under old-school sushi masters, this zen chef remixes Japanese tradition into feasts of casual complexity.

10/08/2014 By Karen Brooks


Portland Monthly's Chef of the Year 2014: Ataula's Jose Chesa

Ataula’s Barcelona-born chef just wants to make you a righteous spanish meal.

10/07/2014 By Karen Brooks


Portland Monthly's Restaurant of the Year 2014: Langbaan

Langbaan blends the personal and the audacious into a downright addictive mash-up of Portland and Thailand.

10/06/2014 By Karen Brooks


3 Things You Must Eat in Portland This October

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

09/26/2014 By Karen Brooks


Davenport's Food Nerd Paradise

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

09/26/2014 By Karen Brooks


Bon Appétit's Andrew Knowlton on Why Portland Matters

The national food mag's restaurant editor downloads on the state of American dining, Maurice, and the places that keep him coming back to PDX.

09/24/2014 By Karen Brooks


4 Things You Must Eat (and Drink) This September

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

09/02/2014 By Karen Brooks


How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Måurice

Kristen Murray's pastry magic and quirky charm earn her little restaurant a spot on our daily list of cravings.

09/02/2014 By Karen Brooks


Nong Slays Competition to Win Chopped

The creative spirits behind Nong's Khao Man Gai and Kim Jong Grillin battle impressively on the Food Network's Chopped "Food Truck Fight."

08/20/2014 By Karen Brooks


Maurice is One of Bon Appétit's Top 10 New Restaurants in America

Quirky PDX dessert haven Maurice nabs a coveted spot on Bon Appétit's "Hot Ten" list of the best new restaurants in the country.

08/19/2014 By Kelly Clarke


Evoe Closes; Nodoguro Rises

Ryan Roadhouse’s Japanese fine-dining experiment gets a permanent home.

08/18/2014 By Karen Brooks


Nong to Compete on Chopped "Food Truck Fight"

On August 19, a Portland food cart star takes the spirit of Nong's Khao Man Gai into a heated competition on the Food Network.

08/12/2014 By Karen Brooks


4 Things You Must Eat (and Drink) in August

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

08/01/2014 By Karen Brooks


How Salt & Straw Captured Portland in a Cone

The story of the city's rapidly growing ice cream empire, as told through five of Salt & Straw's signature flavors.

08/01/2014 Photography by Karen Brooks


Nong’s Khao Man Gai Puts Down Roots

Karen Brooks explores coconut soft serve and “chicken squeezing” at the Thai wonder’s new brick and mortar.

07/29/2014 By Karen Brooks


Ranking Salt & Straw's Best (and Worst) Flavors Ever

We look back at ice cream emperors Kim and Tyler Malek's winning creations—and a few that flopped.

07/11/2014 By Karen Brooks


Eb & Bean Artisan Fro-Yo Shop Opens on NE Broadway

With organic-centric toppings, fresh berry compote, and righteously tart flavors, a cool new shop puts the obsession in frozen yogurt.

07/01/2014 By Karen Brooks