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

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

BREAKING FOOD NEWS

Mark Bitterman to Bring The Meadow to NW 23rd

Salt king Mark Bitterman will unveil the next step in his curating obsessions on NW Portland this August.

06/11/2013 By Karen Brooks

BREAKING FOOD NEWS

Spicy Details on Kyle Linden Webster and Naomi Pomeroy’s Expatriate

A new kind of meeting place will soon rise on NE Killingsworth. We snagged an early look at the cocktails, music, and menu set to debut in early July.

06/05/2013 By Karen Brooks

RESTAURANT REVIEW

There Will Be Blood

Eric Bechard's new restaurant, the Kingdom of Roosevelt, is unapologetically wild.

06/03/2013 By Karen Brooks

EAT THIS NOW

The Best PB&J, Ever. Really.

SE Hawthorne coffee shop Oui Presse spreads obsession and flavor intensity over an American sandwich icon. Behold the PB&J Royale.

05/22/2013 By Karen Brooks

BEAN SCENE

Introducing Ole Latte Coffee Cart

A regular Joe brings single origin coffee, local pride, and a creative “pay it forward” plan to Portland’s downtown food carts

05/08/2013 By Karen Brooks

BREAKING NEWS

Le Pigeon’s Gabriel Rucker Wins Best Chef Northwest

An exclusive interview with Portland’s flavor genius and two-time James Beard Foundation Award winner

05/07/2013 By Karen Brooks

REVIEW

The People's Pig Wild Boar Sandwich

Cliff Allen's tiny, streetside meat cave fires up the art of eating between slices of homemade bread.

05/01/2013 By Karen Brooks

BREAKING NEWS

Coming Soon: Andy Ricker's Asian Food Marathon

With next week’s Pok Pok menu changes and Sen Yai noodle house near completion on SE Division, one man’s Southeast Asian food vision will rise breakfast, lunch and dinner.

04/29/2013 By Karen Brooks