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. 

Breaking News

Xico’s Playful Mexican Kitchen Adds Lunch

SE Division’s house of fresh-ground corn tortillas, detailed salsas, and killer drinking chocolate opens for a midday meal.

02/05/2018 By Karen Brooks

Dining Guide

18 Portland Restaurants for a Romantic Night Out

Planning a date with that special someone? Peep this list first.

01/30/2018 By Eat Beat Team

Word of Mouth

Prediction: Sammich Will Win This Year's World Series of Pastrami

The Portland sandwich shop serves smoked meats, loaded fries, and plenty of profanity.

01/30/2018 By Karen Brooks

Review

How Sterling Coffee Roasters Found the Heart of Portland Café Culture

After 12 years, a new location captures all that is great about these guys.

01/30/2018 By Karen Brooks

Eat This Now

What to Eat This Week: Jan 24–30

From "quinotto" at Andina to a banh mi burger at Aviary, these are the things you must eat this week.

01/24/2018 By Eat Beat Team

Breaking News

Celebrated Chef Cathy Whims to Open Enoteca Nostrana

A mod wine bar with iconic Italian eats and global vintages will rise in March, next to the venerable Nostrana on SE Morrison.

01/24/2018 By Karen Brooks

Breaking News

A Second Pizza Jerk to Replace Just-Shuttered Bunk Sandwiches on SE Morrison

As the original destination for Portland’s indie sandwich chain folds, another slice of co-owner Tommy Habetz's cult pizza shop rises.

01/15/2018 By Karen Brooks

Breaking News

Ox Owners Greg and Gabi Denton to Open French Bistro Jan 18

With Bistro Agnes, the James Beard winners are ready to dig into their love of Parisian comfort food. We've got a first look.

01/10/2018 By Karen Brooks

Food News

Accanto Premieres a New Weekend Brunch Menu

Ex-Little Bird chef Erik Van Kley continues his sly makeover of a neighborhood favorite.

01/03/2018 By Karen Brooks

Special Report

The Epic Quest for Portland's Perfect Pancake

We ate our way across the local flapjack landscape in search of the best.

12/28/2017 By Karen Brooks and Kelly Clarke

Year in Review

Portland's 10 Biggest Restaurant Openings and Closings of 2017

We take stock of the whirlwind year in food.

12/27/2017 By Eat Beat Team

Breaking News

Downtown Food Cart Stars Ole Latte and Picnic to Join Forces on SE Clinton

Get ready for charitable coffee and amazing, from-scratch sandwiches.

12/13/2017 By Karen Brooks

Breaking News

Northwest Icon Sterling Coffee Roasters Relocates

The iconic coffee cubby upsizes to a 950-square-foot coffeehouse.

12/05/2017 By Karen Brooks

Word of Mouth

Forget Wine. Here's What Food Critic Karen Brooks Brings to a Party.

From geeky nut butters to cool chocolate bars, you're guaranteed another invite.

11/20/2017 By Karen Brooks

Review

Meh-diterranean Cruise

Jenn Louis’s Israeli-inspired dining room needs more heart and soul. (Great fries, though!)

11/20/2017 By Karen Brooks

News to Chew

Omertà Shutters, Doug Adams at the Woodsman Tavern, and More PDX Food News

… including a new Shalom Y’all in Southeast Industrial, a pizza-slinging bar from Modest Mouse, and Roe’s downtown opening date.

11/17/2017 By Benjamin Tepler

Mississippi/Williams: Food & Drink

Where to Eat & Drink in Portland's N Mississippi/Williams Neighborhood

Smoked chicken sandwiches, fancy brunch, cult coffee shops, and elephantine Fijian feasts—come hungry.

11/01/2017 Edited by Kelly Clarke By Staff

Breaking News

James Beard Award-Winning Chefs Greg and Gabi Denton to Open Bistro Agnes in Downtown’s SuperBite Space

Goodbye, wild microplates; hello, steak frites and profiteroles. In mid-January, the critically acclaimed chef-couple will embrace their culinary roots: soul-warming French bistro cooking.

11/01/2017 By Karen Brooks

Breaking News

Holy Triple Fat-Fried-Chicken! Southern Pop-Up Mae to Open Two Restaurants

Next spring, expect a homey, counter-service spot up front, and story-slinging, prix fixe fine dinners in the back.

10/25/2017 By Kelly Clarke

Eat Here Now

Where to Eat This Week: Oct 18–25

From silken tofu at Aviary to oozy stone fruit cobbler at Tanner Creek Tavern, these are the things you must eat and drink this week.

10/18/2017 By Eat Beat Team