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. 

Eat This Now

Wake up Call: Brunch at Irving Street Kitchen

Just when you thought Portland couldn’t exceed the bacon-donut-biscuit speed limit, here comes Irving Street Kitchen flashing a green light to keep the South...

03/16/2011 By Karen Brooks

Breaking Food News

Little Big Burger Multiplies

Micah Camden to open a second Little Big Burger on N Mississippi Avenue.

03/14/2011 By Karen Brooks

Review

Ramen Rave

Launched just last fall, Boke Bowl has become a wildly popular noodle craze. Find out where the next monthly, “pop-up” restaurant will be.

03/10/2011 By Karen Brooks

Eat Here Now

The Big Egg

The Big Egg serves up some meticulously handcrafted breakfast sandwiches with fresh, locally sourced ingredients.

03/10/2011 By Karen Brooks

Eat This Now

Tastebud’s Best-Kept Secret: Wood-Fired Birds, Butter, and Biscuits

Once a week, a SE Portland pizza house transforms its menu into a farmhouse feast.

03/09/2011 By Karen Brooks

Eat This Now

Vegetarian Swank, At Last

Genoa and Beast set a welcome new table for meat-free eating.

03/02/2011 By Karen Brooks

Eat This Now

Ramen Freaks and Geeks

Fast-foodies are lining up for a taste of Japanese comfort, from Mirakutei on East Burnside to Bokebowl, a new ramen pop-up. Our souped-up tour includes bowl...

02/16/2011 By Karen Brooks

Review

Winged Victory

Gabriel Rucker, head chef at Le Pigeon serves up a mastery of French inspired dishes like Lamb's Head Shepherds Pie. Little Bird Bistro is one we're sure you'll flock to.

02/14/2011 By Karen Brooks

Article

Bike-Centric Food Cart Super Pod in the Works on SE 82nd Ave

This summer, Mississippi Marketplace food-cart visionary Roger Goldingay aims to bring bike culture into the street-food world.

02/11/2011 By Karen Brooks

Eat Here Now

The Big Egg Cracks Open Again

After a winter food-cart hiatus, Portland’s fried-egg sandwich sanctuary returns with new ideas and cult classics.

02/09/2011 By Karen Brooks

Eat This Now

Grüner Climbs New Mountains

Expansion plans, a vegetarian-forward mushroom burger, and an alpine feast to benefit a local non-profit keep Grüner in the food spotlight.

02/02/2011 By Karen Brooks

Eat This Now

At Meat Cheese Bread, a Frontier Grows

With bold imagination, SE Stark Street’s quirky storefront helps define Portland as a new kind of sandwich city.

01/26/2011 By Karen Brooks

Review

Artfully Uncool

Bar Mingo chef Jerry Huisinga serves up some creative Italian dishes at affordable prices.

01/19/2011 By Karen Brooks

First Impressions

St. Jack Puts the Portland in Paris

A new patisserie blends Clinton Street vibes with chic éclairs and made-to-order madeleines.

01/19/2011 By Karen Brooks

Breaking Food News

FIN TO CLOSE AFTER VALENTINE’S DAY

The daring Southeast Portland seafood restaurant tanks itself after a promising six-month run.

01/17/2011 By Karen Brooks

Eat This Now

The Best Cubano, Ever. Really.

Bunk Sandwiches’ pork belly cubano just might change your life.

01/12/2011 By Karen Brooks

Eat Here Now

Building a Better Biwa

Southeast Portland’s cozy Japanese den of delights bolts down the formulas to make a lasting impression.

01/05/2011 By Karen Brooks

Stocking Stuffers

The Year’s Sweetest Spot: Alma Chocolate

Northeast Portland’s outstanding chocolate shop is now a stronghold of hot chocolates and edible art—and the gift that keeps on giving.

12/22/2010 By Karen Brooks

Review

Ocean's Heaven

Fin takes advantage of our proximity to two rivers and an ocean.

12/21/2010 By Karen Brooks

The Year in Food

Dining 2010: Picks and Pans

Portland’s top tastemakers dish on this year’s defining restaurants, addictive dishes, and trends best left in the recycle bin. Pull up a chair a...

12/15/2010 By Karen Brooks