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. 


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

Best Restaurants 2011

Best Restaurants 2011: Asian Adventures

If you're only experience with Asian cuisine is an occasional plate of microwave pad Thai, then you need to read up on our best bets.

10/14/2011 By Karen Brooks and Benjamin Tepler

Best Restaurants 2011

Best Restaurants 2011: The Ultimate Feast

Skip the yard work for one weekend. Instead, take our eating tour of Portland for round-the-clock satisfaction.

10/14/2011 By Karen Brooks

Best Restaurants 2011

Best Restaurants 2011: Best New Restaurants

What's up in the Portland restaurant realm? Get the scoop on the best new places and the whereabouts of familiar faces.

10/14/2011 By Karen Brooks


The New Nuvrei

The Pearl District’s Nuvrei Patisserie and Café brings breakfast and lunch upstairs.

10/12/2011 By Benjamin Tepler


Garden State’s Last Stand

The pioneering food cart will close out its stellar four-year food run this Sunday at Mississippi Marketplace

10/05/2011 By Karen Brooks


Café Velo + Lauretta Jean’s = Pie Heaven

Coffee-loving Café Velo reopens with another farmers market star at the oven. Say hello to Portland’s best pie, biscuits, and quiche.

09/14/2011 By Eat Beat Team


Boke Bowl to Open a Restaurant

The roving ramen sensation has a new home next to Bunk Bar on the industrial East Side.

08/22/2011 By Karen Brooks

Expansion Plans

Little Big Burger in SE!

Micah Camden’s rapidly expanding edible empire hits SE Division

08/10/2011 By Karen Brooks


Field Studies

Rural feasting on Sauvie Island is as good it gets.

07/22/2011 By Karen Brooks


Castagna’s Matt Lightner Moving to New York

Portland’s modernist pioneer, the first to rethink local cuisine since the farm-to-table movement in the 1990s, will open a restaurant in Tribeca this ...

07/01/2011 By Karen Brooks


Wild Goose Farm: Hot Homestead Feasts

An architect and designer open up their Sauvie Island home to a new kind of farm-to-table supper club featuring a delicious lineup off-the-radar chefs.

06/22/2011 By Karen Brooks


Bluehour Hires Spago Alum Thomas Boyce

Bruce Carey’s Pearl District charmer adds a missing ingredient: a power player in the kitchen.

06/22/2011 By Karen Brooks