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. 

BEST OF THE CITY

Portland's Best Breakfast Spots

In Portland, land of the food-crazy, nothing trumps breakfast. Consider this your wake-up call: the city’s best dishes, biscuits, Bloody Marys, and more. Dig in!

03/01/2012

desirables

Air Plants

Tillandsias — easy to grow, sometimes weird-looking and always beautiful

02/24/2012 By Kate Bryant

FOOD AND DRINK EVENTS

Get Schooled

We’ve rounded up the best cooking classes around Portland where seasoned pros help you, your date, and your kids hone those culinary skills.

02/23/2012 By Allison Jones

Bar Food

Snacking at Wafu

Appetizers mix familiar and exotic flavors

02/23/2012 By John Chandler

RISE & DINE!

Portland's Best Baked Goods

If your breakfast joint doesn't smell like fresh-baked bread and tantalizing pastry, then you're eating in the wrong place. We've got some better ideas.

02/23/2012 Edited by Rachel Ritchie By Karen Brooks

Rise & Dine!

Portland’s Battle for the Best Fried Chicken & Waffles

Culinary pundits Zach Dundas and Marty Patail go fork-to-fork over their favorite spots for chicken and waffles, the true breakfast of champions.

02/23/2012 By Zach Dundas and Martin Patail Edited by Rachel Ritchie and Karen Brooks Illustrations by Dan Gay

RISE & DINE!

Best Family Breakfast Spots

Hey, your kids have to eat breakfast too. We've rounded up a roster of eateries that will make the whole family feel welcome (and full).

02/23/2012 By Zach Dundas and Karen Brooks Edited by Rachel Ritchie Illustrations by Dan Gay

Rise & Dine!

Portland’s Best Biscuits

We've got a bounty of biscuits that don't need gravy to make 'em special.

02/23/2012 Edited by Rachel Ritchie and Karen Brooks By Benjamin Tepler

Rise & Dine!

Portland's Best Breakfast Sandwiches

The trusty breakfast sandwich has evolved from an on-the-go necessity to a morning meal worth savoring slowly. Here are five winning combos.

02/23/2012 By Kasey Cordell, Rachel Ritchie, and Benjamin Tepler Edited by Karen Brooks Illustrations by Dan Gay

RISE & DINE!

Portland’s Best Bloody Marys

Sometimes you need an eye-opener on top of your morning java. For those occasions we've whittled down a roster of Portland's best Bloody Marys. Cheers!

02/23/2012 Edited by Rachel Ritchie and Karen Brooks By Allison Jones

Rise & Dine!

Portland’s Best Breakfasts

Just like mom said: breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And after weeks stuffing ourselves silly while exploring the city’s myriad breakfast joints, we can attest that it also happens to be the most delicious.

02/23/2012 Edited by Rachel Ritchie and Karen Brooks

BREAKING FOOD NEWS

New Details on Bamboo Sushi NW

Bamboo Sushi NW will open in May with fresh takes on raw seafood. We caught up with owner Kristofer Lofgren for all the details.

02/22/2012 By Benjamin Tepler

BREAKING FOOD NEWS

Riffle NW Hooks Pearl District Space

East Coast transplant Ken Norris finds a home at last for his “catch-inspired” seafood vision.

02/22/2012 By Benjamin Tepler

FOOD AND DRINK EVENTS

Party Pics: Mardi Gras at Irving St. Kitchen

Burlesque dancers! Tarot readings! A whole roasted pig! Eat and drink vicariously through my photos of this annual Pearl District Fat Tuesday party.

02/22/2012 By Allison Jones

FOOD NEWS

Portland’s 2012 James Beard Contenders

Six Portland chefs vie in a pool of 20 regional hopefuls for Best Chef Northwest, and four other talents compete in four national categories.

02/21/2012 By Karen Brooks

jazzed

KMHD Director Talks Jazz Fest

Matt Fleeger, Portland’s premier Jazz DJ, hips us to the upcoming Portland Jazz Festival and evangelizes this broad, dynamic, influential genre.

02/15/2012 By Anne Adams

BREAKING FOOD NEWS

Navarre to Expand

Owner John Taboada’s unnamed project will rise this summer in the former Chin Yen space on Northeast 28th Avenue

02/08/2012 By Karen Brooks

Staycations

The Ultimate Guide to Valentine’s Day Deals at Portland Hotels

Local hotels roll out the romance with Valentine’s Day packages that include champagne, dinner, chocolate, and more.

02/07/2012

BREAKING FOOD NEWS

Naomi Pomeroy to Relocate and Update Beast

Portland’s pork princess plans to roll out a new look, new location, and new ideas by September.

02/06/2012 By Karen Brooks

beauty beat

A Spa Day at Venus Allure

A review of the spa services at this Belmont business.

02/02/2012 By Eden Dawn