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. 


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


True Grit

There's room to move in this grueling cycle sport where riders outnumber fans.

12/16/2011 By Shoshanna Cohen

culture cheat-sheet

15 Giftable Portland Albums

12/12/2011 By Anne Adams


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


Lure of the Local

In 1948, Pietro Belluschi designed a modest masterpiece of the Northwest Regional style of modernism. Now his son Tony has restored and expanded it with a deft touch.

11/23/2011 By Kristin Belz


Sagas of Scent

Scented gifts purchased at Portland's Perfume House come with a story.

11/23/2011 By Emily Burton

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


Top Bartender Hangover Cures

Just in time for Portland Cocktail Week’s bacchanalian festivities, we’ve got the insider’s hangover cures straight from Portland’s t...

10/21/2011 By Allison Jones

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: Hidden Breakfasts

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day so wake up a little earlier and get in line at one of these morning meeting spots.

10/14/2011 By Rachel Ritchie