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 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

Long Story [Short]

The Villain

He's the mustachioed bad guy in the Wanderlust Circus, but Portlander Russell Bruner also performs swing, acrobatics, and a racy burlesque striptease act. This month, he offers us a glimpse into his glamorous life—onstage and off.

10/14/2011 By Georgia Perry


The New Nuvrei

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

10/12/2011 By Benjamin Tepler

Portland Fashion Week

PFW: Project Runway Peeps

Another year of Portland Fashion Week wraps up.

10/09/2011 By Eden Dawn


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


Quick Picks!

09/22/2011 By Eden Dawn

Cover Story

Fall Getaways: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Fall was made for long weekends. As the sun settles lower and lower in our sky and thanksgiving comes into view on the horizon, there’s no better time to escape the city and savor the few quiet, crisp weekends of autumn.

09/19/2011 Edited by Kasey Cordell By Brian Barker, Zach Dundas, Rachel Ritchie, Martin Patail, and Eleanor R. Brown


Go By: Automobile

Road trips with drives as dazzling as the destinations

09/19/2011 By Kelly Clarke and Rachel Ritchie

We Recommend

TBA Picks: Sunday

No Time Like the Present

09/18/2011 By Claudia La Rocco


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


Garden World Sale

08/29/2011 By Kate Bryant


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


Project Runway Recap: E.4

The designers have to create something for the scariest client of all…. A fashion editor.

08/21/2011 By Eden Dawn

Happy Hour

Bazi is Boss!

Come for the beer—stay for all the rest

08/18/2011 By John Chandler

Expansion Plans

Little Big Burger in SE!

Micah Camden’s rapidly expanding edible empire hits SE Division

08/10/2011 By Karen Brooks


Project Runway Recap: E.2

Episode two of the season and the designers have to unleash their aesthetic in a pet store challenge.

08/07/2011 By Eden Dawn

Eyes on Events

TGI Friday

This Friday combine vintage, talent and shopping. Shake and pour over ice.

07/27/2011 By Eden Dawn