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. 


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


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


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


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


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


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.



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

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


Events and Deals Around the Region

Stout Month at the coast, truffles galore, and a two-for-one offer on Mount Hood



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

gardening books

Timber Press Open to Garden Bookworms!

pick up a book – and go home with ideas and inspiration!

01/23/2012 By Kate Bryant

food fight

Review: Famished

A "theatrical documentary" about what we crave and the troubles we get into stuffing our mouths feeds both the belly laughs and the indigestion. Th...

01/23/2012 By Aaron Scott

Market Watch

Overachieving Superfoods

Some foods manage to get a lot more nutritional work done with each bite than others do.

01/17/2012 By Kristin Belz

If Quentin Tarantino remade the classic Jacobean tragedy...

Review: (I Am Still) the Duchess of Malfi

At Artists Repertory Theatre through Feb. 12

01/14/2012 By Aaron Scott


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

Fashion News

Shop Adorn Burns Down

The new year begins with a forced reboot.

01/02/2012 By Eden Dawn


Foodie Retrospectives

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

12/28/2011 By Karen Brooks

Long Story [Short]

The Blacksmith

Timberline Lodge has its own blacksmith hammering out exquisite ornamental touches.

12/23/2011 By Paul Lindholdt