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. 

Division/Clinton: Insider Picks

Where Division/Clinton Insiders Really Eat, Drink, and Play

The people who live and work in this booming Portland neighborhood spill its lesser-known charms.

08/08/2017 Edited by Kelly Clarke

Division/Clinton: Food & Drink

25+ Great Spots to Eat & Drink in Portland's Division/Clinton Neighborhood

Pok Pok's wings are just the beginning when it comes to this foodie hood's edible delights.

08/08/2017 Edited by Kelly Clarke

Weekly Planner

A Puerto Rican Block Party at Chesa, Southern-Korean Dinners, and More PDX Food Events

… including a Tusk/Kachka summer soiree, a flash mob-style Dinner en Blanc, and a cookbook reading at Powell’s.

08/01/2017 By Benjamin Tepler

Breaking News

Former Spago and Bluehour Chef Thomas Boyce Takes Over Pearl Tavern Kitchen

The grounded steak house concept from former football star Joey Harrington and Chefstable’s Kurt Huffman gets a new lease on life from an Italian cooking pro.

07/26/2017 By Karen Brooks

Word of Mouth

Meet Mio Asaka, the Farmers Market's Queen of Tarts

Asaka's Instagram-worthy fruit tarts channel France, Japan, and Portland.

07/10/2017 By Karen Brooks

Restaurant Review

Güero and Chalino Riff On Mexican Cuisine—with Unexpected Results

The Mexican-inspired spots are two of Portland's most anticipated restaurants this year. How do they stack up?

07/10/2017 By Karen Brooks

Food Event Spotlight

Acclaimed Chef Matt Lightner Teams Up with Langbaan for Dinner July 26

The former Castagna chef—a double Michelin star holder—jumps into the kitchen of Portland’s Thai hot spot for a night of intrigue. This could be the dinner of 2017.

07/05/2017 By Karen Brooks

Breaking News

Jose Chesa’s Spanish-Modern Restaurant Chesa Has Closed

The Ataula chef and partner Cristina Baez gambled on an ambitious, paella-centric restaurant on NE Broadway last year. It didn’t turn out as expected.

06/28/2017 By Karen Brooks

Food News

Sterling Coffee Roasters Will Relocate to a Larger Space This Fall

Portland’s tiny outpost of coffee perfection will triple in size at its new NW 21st Avenue digs, cult cappuccinos in tow.

06/27/2017 By Karen Brooks

Breaking News

An Indie Chocolate Shop Opens Inside Artisan Fro-Yo Star Eb & Bean

This is, indeed, the most adorable Portland food story ever.

06/27/2017 By Karen Brooks

First Impressions

Is Paadee’s New Issan Menu Portland’s Next Thai Food Breakout?

Earl Ninsom dives into the cuisine of Northeastern Thailand next door to his acclaimed Langbaan on SE 28th Avenue.

06/20/2017 By Karen Brooks

Dining Guide

13 Portland Restaurants for Serious Beer Drinkers

From perfect pilsners to cask-conditioned fruit beer, these spots take their taps as seriously as their plates.

06/12/2017 By Eat Beat Team

Word of Mouth

The Inside Scoop on Fifty Licks, Portland's Suddenly Hot Ice Cream Shop

With two locations and a killer affogato Cubano, Chad Draizin's spot is finally ready for its close-up.

06/12/2017 By Karen Brooks

Restaurant Review

Han Oak Is the Most Fun Restaurant in Portland Right Now

From Korean dumplings to a raucous backyard vibe, Peter Cho's Northeast spot rules.

06/12/2017 By Karen Brooks Photography by Stuart Mullenberg

Eat Here Now

Where to Eat This Week: May 23–30

From London Fog nitro on tap at Steven Smith to flatbread spreads at Shalom Y'all, these are the things you must eat and drink this week.

05/23/2017 By Eat Beat Team

Dining Guide

17 Portland Burger Joints Better Than Your Backyard

From all-American to Chinese street-style to a Mexican hamburguesa, here's where to score some of the city's top burgers.

05/15/2017 By Eat Beat Team

Word of Mouth

This Vancouver Food Cart Makes the Best Pizza You've Never Heard Of

Pizzeria La Sorrentina serves true flash-cooked Neapolitan pies in a parking lot.

05/15/2017 By Karen Brooks

West End: Food & Drink

Where to Eat in Portland's West End

Subterranean cocktail bunkers, a Northwest brunch mecca, and one of the city's best food cart pods. Explore this neighborhood while you're hungry.

05/15/2017 Edited by Kelly Clarke By Staff

James Beard Awards

Portland Monthly Food Critic Karen Brooks Wins a 2017 James Beard Award

Our own master wordsmith, veteran Portland food voice, and all-around punk rocker takes home the James Beard journalism prize, alongside accolades for two other Oregonians.

04/25/2017 By Benjamin Tepler

Food Event Spotlight

Chefs Week PDX Takes a Breather—But Still Has Two Big Dinners in the Works for 2017

Gregory Gourdet's annual four-day blitz is going on vacation. Eat Beat has the lowdown on the two major events planned in its absence—and where to get your tickets.

04/19/2017 By Karen Brooks