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

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

Meat ’n’ Greet

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

Breaking News

Joshua McFadden to Launch Cicoria, a Pizzeria, in the Former Holiday Space

Plus, Ava Gene’s will unveil an epic, grain-focused brunch program.

03/04/2019 By Karen Brooks

Word of Mouth

Food Cart Matta Is Vietnamese Soul Food, Lost and Found

The NE Alberta cart serves up super-homey dishes, braised catfish to pandan doughnuts.

02/26/2019 By Karen Brooks

Restaurant Review

Is Din Tai Fung's New Portland Outpost Worth the Hype?

The soup dumpling chain has a global following. Now it's landed at Washington Square mall.

02/26/2019 By Karen Brooks

Eat Here Now

Where to Eat This Week: Feb 19–26

Blue-collar sandwiches at the Baker’s Mark and breakfast burritos at Santo Domingo are your must-eats for the week.

02/19/2019 By Eat Beat Team

Breaking News

Modernist Berlu to Swing Doors Open on SE Belmont in Early Spring

Plus, the chef behind pop-up Jolie Laide holds a series of Thai-inspired dinners this month.

02/06/2019 By Karen Brooks

Breaking News

Nodoguro’s New Project Is a Healthful Japanese Café by Day and a Vinyl Jazz Salon by Night

Tonari and Peter Cat will launch on SE Belmont in late spring.

01/30/2019 By Karen Brooks

Word of Mouth

Gado Gado’s Noodle-Centric Pop-Up Is Going Places

Southeast Asian influences and a healthy dose of “what the hell, we’re having fun” make it one to watch.

01/29/2019 By Karen Brooks

Eat & Drink

Kitchen Consequential

Drugs and booze nearly gutted a generation of Portland's best chefs. Now they're setting the table for sober kitchen culture.

01/29/2019 By Karen Brooks Illustrations by Molly Mendoza

Breaking News

Playful Southeast Asian Pop-Up Gado Gado Finds a Brick-and-Mortar Home

This spring, expect handmade noodles, curries, and dim sum in the Hollywood neighborhood.

01/16/2019 By Karen Brooks

Breaking News

Little Bird Bistro Unveils New Menu and Chef

Le Pigeon and Canard are Portland food stars. Now, famed chef Gabriel Rucker and wine maven Andy Fortgang are sharpening the focus on their downtown bistro.

01/07/2019 By Karen Brooks

Word of Mouth

Portland's High Priest of the Cheese Counter Offers Her Top Fromage Tips

Meet Katie Eshleman, your cheese consigliere.

12/21/2018 By Karen Brooks

Review

At Bernstein's, a Pair of Musical Nerds Make the Best Bagels in Portland

They're each slow-risen, hand-rolled, boiled, blistered, and good enough to step into the ring on the Lower East Side.

12/21/2018 By Karen Brooks

Breaking News

Bernstein’s Bagels Poised to Break Big with Second Location on N Russell

The funky little (and little-known) St Johns bagel shop will be destination-ready with actual heating, bona-fide seating, and legit, hand-rolled traditional bagels. Opening date: Dec 22.

11/21/2018 By Karen Brooks

Food Event Spotlight

Celebrated Chef Matt Lightner to Star at Holiday’s Plant-Based Pop-Up Dinner Series

With two Michelin stars in his back pocket, the former Portland chef will create a night of natural wonders at the SE Division hot spot on Dec 7. Don't miss it.

11/20/2018 By Karen Brooks

Word of Mouth

These Portland Chefs Are Trail Blazer Superfans

Leather Storrs and Alec Morrison are nuts for Rip City.

11/20/2018 By Karen Brooks

Food Event Spotlight

Famed elBulli Dessert Whiz Albert Adrià Is Coming to Portland

One of Spain’s most well-regarded modernists will talk creative process and failure while being painted.

10/26/2018 By Karen Brooks