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 2017: Ready Your Forks

5 Portland Restaurants We Can't Wait for in 2018

From Russian dumplings to elevated home-style Filipino, get ready to eat.

10/12/2017 By Kelly Clarke

Best Restaurants 2017: Chill Your Coffee

The Affogato Cubano at Fifty Licks Is One Sweet Buzz

Four shots of robust coffee meet homemade ice cream, deliciously.

10/12/2017 By Karen Brooks

Best Restaurants 2017: Get Your Laab On

Portland Monthly’s Dish of the Year 2017: Spicy Thai Laabs at Paadee

Langbaan’s big-sister restaurant turns into an Isaan outpost twice a week.

10/12/2017 By Karen Brooks

Best Restaurants 2017: Three Degrees of Naoko

3 Ways a Japanese Chef Created an Only-in-Portland Gem

Here’s how Naoko Tamura’s downtown spot went from dorky to destination.

10/12/2017 By Karen Brooks

Best Restaurants 2017: The Unrestaurants

3 Portland Pop-Ups That Shook Up Dining and Drinking in 2017

We visited the “outer rings of the vegetable planet,” among other strange places.

10/12/2017 By Karen Brooks and Benjamin Tepler

Best Restaurants 2017: Discover Nacho Theory

Portland Monthly’s 2017 Chefs of the Year: Tusk’s Sam Smith and Joshua McFadden

With Middle Eastern spices and farm-fresh rigor, Tusk’s co-owners make vegetables taste fresh again.

10/12/2017 By Karen Brooks

Best Restaurants 2017: Hang with Cho

Han Oak Is Portland Monthly’s 2017 Restaurant of the Year

With epic dumplings and endless format changes, Peter Cho remakes Korean cooking and captures a city’s spirit.

10/12/2017 By Karen Brooks

Breaking News

The People’s Pig to Fire Up Second Location on E Burnside

With a bigger kitchen, the second “no school but my own” barbecue joint will unveil some smoky surprises in late October, including owner Cliff Allen’s famed porchetta sandwiches.

09/27/2017 By Karen Brooks

Feast 2017

Recapping Feast 2017: Everything You Missed

Six years in, Feast continues to cement its reputation as a top American food festival. Portland Monthly's Karen Brooks and Kelly Clarke bear witness.

09/20/2017 By Karen Brooks and Kelly Clarke

News to Chew

Biwa Does Bento, Heart Coffee Sues Heart Pizza, and More PDX Food News

… including the upcoming closure of Commons Brewing, yet another rotisserie chicken spot, and a new tavern from Nel Centro’s David Machado.

09/20/2017 By Eleanor Van Buren

Dining Guide

17 Portland Restaurants with Stellar Wine Lists

From hard-to-find Slovenian wines to mile-long Champagne lists, here's where to eat out when you're serious about grapes.

09/13/2017 By Eat Beat Team

Word of Mouth

Jose Luis de Cossio Blew Up His Ceviche Hot Spot Paiche. Now What?

Meet Paiche, version 4.0.

09/13/2017 By Karen Brooks

Breaking News

Feast Portland Loses Texas Barbecue Star Aaron Franklin after Restaurant Fire

After major damage to Austin’s iconic Franklin Barbecue last week, a Portland favorite will stay home to rebuild.

08/30/2017 By Karen Brooks

Eat This Now

Portland’s Best Shaved Ice Hides in an Unlikely Place

On Saturdays only, downtown’s eccentric Courier Coffee Roasters reveals a secret passion: Japanese shaved ice, hand-cranked and very, very homemade.

08/29/2017 By Karen Brooks

Word of Mouth

Portland's Vegan Push Pop Invasion Is Nigh!

Push it. Push it real good.

08/14/2017 By Karen Brooks

Restaurant Review

From Za’atar to Berries, Tusk Cracks Open Portland’s Best Brunch

And that pistachio gooey butter cake? Swoon.

08/14/2017 By Karen Brooks

Division/Clinton: Insider Picks

Where Division/Clinton Insiders Really Eat, Drink, and Play

The people who live and work in this booming Portland neighborhood spill its lesser-known charms.

08/08/2017 Edited by Kelly Clarke

Division/Clinton: Food & Drink

25+ Great Spots to Eat & Drink in Portland's Division/Clinton Neighborhood

Pok Pok's wings are just the beginning when it comes to this foodie hood's edible delights.

08/08/2017 Edited by Kelly Clarke

Weekly Planner

A Puerto Rican Block Party at Chesa, Southern-Korean Dinners, and More PDX Food Events

… including a Tusk/Kachka summer soiree, a flash mob-style Dinner en Blanc, and a cookbook reading at Powell’s.

08/01/2017 By Benjamin Tepler

Breaking News

Former Spago and Bluehour Chef Thomas Boyce Takes Over Pearl Tavern Kitchen

The grounded steak house concept from former football star Joey Harrington and Chefstable’s Kurt Huffman gets a new lease on life from an Italian cooking pro.

07/26/2017 By Karen Brooks