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. 

BREAKING NEWS

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

WORD OF MOUTH

What to Eat in Portland, Right Now

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

07/01/2014 By Karen Brooks

HIT LIST

A Handy Guide to Portland's Best UnRestaurants

Glimpse the next phase of Portland dining at these 11 pop-up dinners, secret back rooms, and farm fresh feasts.

07/01/2014 By Karen Brooks

RESTAURANT REVIEW

Charting the Rise of Portland's Hottest UnRestaurants

In back rooms, on off nights, and behind borrowed counters, forward-thinking chefs are redefining dinner in Portland.

07/01/2014 By Karen Brooks

BREAKING NEWS

Café Castagna Gets a Middle Eastern Accent

On June 26, one of Portland’s iconic neighborhood cafes adds a new chef, a new menu, and a fresh direction.

06/24/2014 By Karen Brooks

HIT LIST

Our 4 New Farmers Market Obsessions

Inspirations from the mother ship of local eating: the Portland Farmers Market at PSU.

06/02/2014 By Karen Brooks

INSIDE SCOOP

Is Langbaan Portland’s Best New Restaurant?

As Portland’s restaurant scene grows up and gets more diverse, the most exciting food is popping up in unlikely places.

05/28/2014 By Karen Brooks

BREAKING NEWS

3 Reasons to Get Excited about Division's Pizza Maria

Thomas Keller’s baking collaborator Sean Coyne is ready to unleash his wood-fired Neapolitan-esque pies on SE Division Street. We got the inside word.

05/21/2014 By Karen Brooks

BREAKING NEWS

Chef Vitaly Paley Joins the Pop-Up Revolution

In June, a godfather of Portland’s food scene will reset the table of his youth with drinking foods, hand-cured caviar, and, yes, Russian rap.

05/20/2014 By Karen Brooks

BREAKING NEWS

Salt & Straw Expanding to Los Angeles in August

Portland’s artisan ice cream explorers are launching a shop in LA’s Larchmont Village.

05/12/2014 By Karen Brooks

EAT HERE NOW

Thali Supper Club Settles In at Din Din

As more Portland restaurants open their doors to supper-club squatters, a roving Indian feast cooks up May’s spicy Goan menu and June’s Indian Street Fare dishes.

05/05/2014 By Karen Brooks

BREAKING FOOD NEWS

Clyde Common Chef Shuffle: Leach Out, Carlo Lamagna In

In one crazy weekend, a promising chef from David Chang's ranks is out, and a butcher-loving alum of Chicago's Perennial Virant steps up to reshape an iconic PDX destination.

05/04/2014 By Karen Brooks

BREAKING FOOD NEWS

Chef Johnny Leach Departs Clyde Common

It was one of the most anticipated menu makeovers in Portland. But six months in, the former David Chang-empire chef has been relieved of duty at the famed restaurant and craft cocktail bar.

05/04/2014 By Karen Brooks

RESTAURANT REVIEW

Bollywood Theater's Spicy Sequel in Southeast

The new Division Street outpost of Troy MacLarty's Indian street food hub offers bright spices and international supplies in a cinematic setting.

05/01/2014 By Karen Brooks

HIT LIST

10 Portland-Style Junk Food Favorites

Portlanders are turning your favorite greasy, sugary, salty snacks into artisan masterpieces.

05/01/2014 By Karen Brooks and Kelly Clarke

BREAKING NEWS

Palace Cakes to Open Downtown this Summer

Two Tarts Bakery spins off a cake-centric shop, with by the slice options, pick-your-own buttercreams, and mini-batch ice creams.

04/29/2014 By Karen Brooks

FOOD EVENT SPOTLIGHT

Two Portland Chefs, Two Vegetable Dinners, One Leap Forward

Vegetable whisperers Joshua McFadden of Ava Gene’s and Gregory Gourdet of Departure get to the root of culinary collaboration.

04/23/2014 By Karen Brooks

BREAKING NEWS

Genoa Restaurant Closing May 11

The historic SE Belmont dining destination will close for an "extended hiatus" and some soul searching.

04/21/2014 By Karen Brooks and Allison Jones

BREAKING FOOD NEWS

Castagna Vets Launch 10-Course Pop-Up Nomad.PDX

With a new monthly dinner series, former Castagna sous chef Ryan Fox brings modernism, foraging, local artists, and guest cooks to the same table, at changing locations.

04/08/2014 By Karen Brooks

EAT THIS NOW

5 Favorites from Nuvrei's Macaron Bar

At this take-out temple to almond meal and meringue, Marius Pop's technicolor French treats are drawing a crowd.

04/02/2014 By Karen Brooks