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 Here Now

Review: Boke Bowl

The ramen at Boke Bowl is sensational. But there's a lot more than noodles happening here.

01/26/2012 By Karen Brooks


UPDATE: Christopher Israel’s New Mexican Restaurant

ChefStable teams up with one of the city’s top chefs for an exciting downtown project.

01/24/2012 By Karen Brooks


Milwaukie Kitchen & Wine

Veteran chef Pascal Sauton brings French comfort, great baking, curated ingredients, and spontaneous evenings to Clackamas country.

01/11/2012 By Karen Brooks


Kristen Murray Leaving Paley’s Place

The acclaimed pastry wiz and dessert chef is searching for a location to cook up her own dreams.

01/10/2012 By Karen Brooks


Foodie Retrospectives

Two year-end roundups put the 2011 world of food in perspective.

12/28/2011 By Karen Brooks


Littlest Italy

Is Luce a Fellini movie, a Lombardy roadside attraction, or a food lover's minimart as imagined in Portland?

12/23/2011 By Karen Brooks


The Dish on Portland Dining: 2011

Eat Beat’s annual food and drink survey is here…pull up a chair and weigh in!

12/21/2011 By Karen Brooks


Christopher Israel’s New Project

Christopher Israel and Kurt Huffman look to open a Mexican restaurant in downtown Portland.

12/20/2011 By Karen Brooks


Nong’s Khao Man Gai at PSU

With a new location, Portland’s famed Thai vendor debuts new dishes and soon, Nong’s Khao Man Gai Sauce

11/30/2011 By Karen Brooks


Pie High

Pie priestess Kate McMillen concentrates on the crust at Lauretta Jean's.

11/23/2011 By Karen Brooks

Best of the City

Portland's Best Restaurants 2011

Eat, Play, Love: 35 Divine Dining Experiences

11/22/2011 By Karen Brooks


Get Ready for Oven and Shaker

Three reasons to get excited about Portland’s soon-to-open pizza and cocktail experiment.

11/15/2011 By Karen Brooks


Paleys Plan New Downtown Location

Portland’s famed food-lovers Vitaly and Kimberly Paley are close to signing a lease downtown, bringing two concepts under one roof.

11/08/2011 By Karen Brooks


Chef Studio Dinners

Food school is open, with four nights of collaborative dinners and demos at Robert Reynolds’s celebrated cooking school.

11/08/2011 By Karen Brooks


Nong’s Khao Man Gai Grows

Portland’s prominent food cart plans a late November expansion with a second cart at the PSU pod and a sauce line.

11/04/2011 By Karen Brooks



Next week, former Portland star chef Anthony Demes unveils his anticipated new restaurant Noisette in Northwest Portland. Here’s our field report on what to ...

11/02/2011 By Karen Brooks

Best Restaurants 2011

Best Restaurants 2011

Eat, Play, Love: 35 Divine Dining Experiences.

10/19/2011 Edited by Rachel Ritchie and Karen Brooks

Best Restaurants 2011

Best Restaurants 2011: Amped Up

All of the best culinary minds in Portland understand the power of pairing.

10/14/2011 Edited by Rachel Ritchie and Karen Brooks

Best Restaurants 2011

Best Restaurants 2011: The Best of the Rest

Our 30 other favorite restaurants in and around Portland.

10/14/2011 Edited by Rachel Ritchie and Karen Brooks

Best Restaurants 2011

Best Restaurants 2011: The Comforts

Everyone's got a go-to comfort food that they simply must have. Check out our favorites and add them to your list.

10/14/2011 By Kasey Cordell, Karen Brooks, and Benjamin Tepler