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

Standout Coffee and Chocolate Bar Cloudforest is Closing

The vaunted Cloudforest chocolate line will live on, but Sebastian Cisneros’ ambitious chocolate factory and espresso bar will shutter Monday.

08/05/2019 By Karen Brooks

Word of Mouth

JinJu Is Your Neighborhood Master Patisserie

“People don’t give a shit what other people do in Portland. You don’t have to look a certain way here."

07/24/2019 By Karen Brooks

Restaurant Review

Scotch Lodge is Portland’s Best New Bar

Tommy Klus brings world class whiskey to the people.

07/24/2019 By Karen Brooks Photography by Stuart Mullenberg

Cowabunga 2019

Cowabunga Q&A: Kim Jong Grillin’s Han Ly Hwang

The Korean cart competitor talks kimchi, '90s salads, and the pitfalls of trying to re-create fast food.

06/25/2019 By Karen Brooks

Word of Mouth

Marshall’s Haute Sauce Bottles the Farmers Market

The first week of every month the Marshalls offer a new, fresh condiment of uncommon deliciousness.

06/25/2019 By Karen Brooks

Sweet Spot

Is Portland the Vegan Ice Cream Capital of America?

Portland makes a serious case for #1.

06/25/2019 By Karen Brooks

Breaking News

Iconic Northwest Grocer City Market to Close August 18

The collective home of Pastaworks, Chop Butchery, and Newman’s Fish Market will soon end its esteemed run on Northwest 21st Avenue.

06/18/2019 By Karen Brooks

Feast 2019

A Sneak Peek of Feast Portland’s Hottest Dinner Series

Tickets drop June 7, but we’ve got the jump. This year’s best seats? A star-packed night of African roots cooking, a high-end (and spice-packed) Thai menu, and some very mod Turkish food.

06/03/2019 By Karen Brooks

EAT WITH YOUR EYES

First Look: Modernist Berlu Opens June 13

Chef Vince Nguyen’s tiny, hard-core locavore Belmont restaurant has big ambitions.

06/03/2019 By Karen Brooks

Word of Mouth

Chef José Chesa’s Ataula Is Making a Quiet Comeback

With special paellas and modernist bread and chocolate, the Spanish spot is firing on all cylinders.

05/28/2019 By Karen Brooks

Breaking News

Departure Chef Gregory Gourdet Inks Major Cookbook Deal

With help from cookbook wiz JJ Goode, the new tome will explore the Top Chef star’s lifelong culinary influences.

05/21/2019 By Karen Brooks

The Oregon Woman 2019

Meet the Portland Woman Penning the Words for Nike’s LeBron James Commercials

She's a comics nerd, marketing whiz, and possible superhero.

04/23/2019 By Karen Brooks

Best Breakfasts 2019: Legends

5 All-Time Portland Breakfast Greats

Go. Order anything. Leave happy.

04/23/2019 By Kelly Clarke

Best Breakfasts 2019

12 Breakfast Dishes You’ve Got to Eat Right Now

From fancy Australian eggs and bacon to chilaquiles and the city’s first great babka, this is what you need come sunup.

04/23/2019 By Karen Brooks, Benjamin Tepler, and Kelly Clarke

Word of Mouth

Wild Salads to Elaborate Cocktails, Quaintrelle Is Ready for Its Close-Up

Come for the drinks. Stay for the... brussels sprouts?

04/23/2019 By Karen Brooks

Gift Guide

From Hot Sauce to CBD Lotion, 5 Gifts for Mom That Aren't Macaroni Art

Forget the earrings and perfume. Here's what Portland moms really need.

04/22/2019 By Portland Monthly Staff

Breaking News

Ataula and Marshall’s Haute Sauce Dream Up the Hot Sauce of Summer

José Chesa’s celebrated patatas bravas recipe gets an upgrade from Portland’s chile gurus.

04/16/2019 By Karen Brooks

Breaking News

As It Turns 20, Acclaimed Mod-Chic Castagna Is About to Get Bolder

His 20-course tasting menus are nationally recognized. Now, chef Justin Woodward will give us another choice, twice a week: experimental five-course menus, somewhere between refined and raunchy.

04/10/2019 By Karen Brooks

Restaurant Review

Chef Doug Adams’ Bullard is a Smoke-Perfumed Meat Lair Hiding in a Downtown Hotel

The Top Chef alum balances hotel politesse and Lone Star meat craft.

03/26/2019 By Karen Brooks

Breaking News

San Francisco Veteran Garrett Benedict to Open Vegetable-Focused G-Love

The former chef de cuisine at Bon Appetit’s top-ranked AL’s Place will showcase produce from his parents’ farm at his Northwest Portland restaurant.

03/19/2019 By Karen Brooks