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. 

Cover Story

Eat Outside: On the Water

Food and drink taste better with a river view.

07/22/2011 By Kasey Cordell

Cover Story

Eat Outside: Rooftop Respites

See the sights from great heights while savoring your bites.

07/22/2011 By Martin Patail


Field Studies

Rural feasting on Sauvie Island is as good it gets.

07/22/2011 By Karen Brooks

I'm special

Summerland for Summer Time

A new Pdx based online shop will make your clicking fingers tired.

07/08/2011 By Eden Dawn


Fish on Wheels

A new fresh-fish cart offers some of Oregon’s best and most accessible seafood

07/06/2011 By Benjamin Tepler


Castagna’s Matt Lightner Moving to New York

Portland’s modernist pioneer, the first to rethink local cuisine since the farm-to-table movement in the 1990s, will open a restaurant in Tribeca this ...

07/01/2011 By Karen Brooks

Beer Bulletin

It’s Organic, Dude!

Notes from North American Organic Brewers Fest

06/28/2011 By John Chandler


Wild Goose Farm: Hot Homestead Feasts

An architect and designer open up their Sauvie Island home to a new kind of farm-to-table supper club featuring a delicious lineup off-the-radar chefs.

06/22/2011 By Karen Brooks


Get Down to Brass Tacks

The newest sandwich shop on North Vancouver is setting out to please omnivores and vegans alike by keeping it simple.

06/22/2011 By Allison Jones


Bluehour Hires Spago Alum Thomas Boyce

Bruce Carey’s Pearl District charmer adds a missing ingredient: a power player in the kitchen.

06/22/2011 By Karen Brooks

News Bit

H&M Gets Versace

The massive chain unveils their newest designer collaboration for Fall.

06/21/2011 By Eden Dawn


Mississippi Flea Market

The Mississippi neighborhood gets cooler all the time and this helps.

06/20/2011 By Eden Dawn

Be there or be square

Reveille Store Launch Party

Be part of the fashion "in crowd" Sat night at this grand store opening.

06/16/2011 By Eden Dawn


Cathy Whims and ChefStable Team Up at New Oven & Shaker

Nostrana’s Cathy Whims, Aviation Gin’s Ryan Magarian, and ChefStable’s Kurt Huffman head to the Pearl with a powerhouse plan for pizza and drinks.

06/13/2011 By Karen Brooks

Famous Folks

Pdx Vintage Heads to the White House

Who is hip enough to wear Xtabay vintage? The Chief of Protocol at The White House.

06/10/2011 By Eden Dawn


Café Castagna’s Lunch Finds

Behind a lovable burger and quietly chic comforts, one of Portland’s classic restaurants shouts: Let’s do lunch.

06/08/2011 By Karen Brooks


Little Big Burger Gets Bigger

Budding indie burger mogel Micah Camden inks a deal for a third location in student-happy Eugene.

06/01/2011 By Karen Brooks


Wings of Victory

How good is the food at Pok Pok and Le Pigeon post Beard awards? In a word: soaring.

06/01/2011 By Karen Brooks