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 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

BREAKING FOOD NEWS

Ava Gene’s Chef Lands Vegetable Cookbook Deal

Rising star chef Joshua McFadden and veteran Portland cookbook author Martha Holmberg will team up to dig deep into vegetables for New York house Artisan Publishers.

04/01/2014 By Karen Brooks

RESTAURANT REVIEW

The Secret to Ataula's Spanish-Accented Success

At tapas house Ataula, Barcelona-born Jose Chesa masters a rare ingredient in modernist cuisine: comfort.

04/01/2014 By Karen Brooks

BREAKING FOOD NEWS

Sneak Peek at Reverend’s BBQ, Opening March 31

The masterminds behind Laurelhurst Market are readying their family-friendly house of barbecue and fried chicken...and we’ve got a first look at the menu.

03/25/2014 By Karen Brooks

EAT HERE NOW

Test Driving Roman Candle’s New Lunch Menu

Inspired vegetables, strong salads, and pizza bianca sandwiches give Ava Gene’s baby sister an afternoon glow.

03/25/2014 By Karen Brooks

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

A Nibble of Frice Bakery and Philippe’s Bread

Chefstable’s new bakery experiment unfolds on North Williams with old-school French breads to watch and composed desserts to go.

03/19/2014 By Karen Brooks

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Langbaan is a Thai Breaker

Fried snakehead fish, night-market vibes, and other reasons to slip into Akkapong Earl Nimson’s new tasting-menu speakeasy.

03/05/2014 By Karen Brooks

BEST SANDWICHES 2014

25 Sandwiches That Will Change Your Life

Why Portland stacks up as America's great new sandwich city

03/03/2014 With Rachel Ritchie Edited by Karen Brooks

BEST SANDWICHES 2014

Five Ways Portland Redefines the Hamburger

What can a burger be? Meet these revolutionary takes.

03/03/2014 By Karen Brooks

BEST SANDWICHES 2014

Vegan Grilled Cheese to Buttery Sausage Biscuits: Five Portland Sandwiches Built on Obsession

Passion unbound, no apologies: that’s the secret ingredient to sandwich happiness.

03/03/2014 By Karen Brooks

BEST SANDWICHES 2014

Jalapeño Pickles to Raspberry Jam: Five Portland Sandwiches with Crazy-Good Condiments

To cut the mustard in Pickle Town, it is advisable to craft your own artisan extras.

03/03/2014 By Karen Brooks

BEST SANDWICHES 2014

String Beans, Coffee Mayo, and Chocolate: Five Portland Sandwiches That Break All the Rules

The coup de grace on a true, Stumptown-style sandwich? A renegade cry of “Anything goes!”

03/03/2014 By Karen Brooks

BEST SANDWICHES 2014

Five Phenomenally Meaty Portland Sandwiches

Portland meats are serious business: smoked, brined, and charcuterized. (They don’t call us Porkland for nothing.)

03/03/2014 By Karen Brooks

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