Food Editor & Critic

Karen 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, film/TV junkie, and food author. She’s written nine books to date, most recently a book on Portland’s punk-rock food scene, The Mighty Gastropolis: A Journey Through America’s New Food Culture. 

COMFORT FOOD

The Wide World of Comfort (or, We’re All Gonna Die Anyway)

We scoured the city for the best warm-blanket dishes from across the globe. So go ahead, wrap your napkin around your shoulders like a Snuggie and dig in!

01/25/2016 Edited by Kelly Clarke By Karen Brooks, Ramona DeNies, Zach Dundas, Rachel Grozanick, Amy Martin, Fiona McCann, Marty Patail, Rachel Ritchie, Benjamin Tepler, and Molly Woodstock

WORD OF MOUTH

Three Things You Must Eat This Month

Decadent-yet-healthy breakfasts, Spanish dessert breakthroughs, and dead-sexy chocolate bars.

01/25/2016 By Karen Brooks

RESTAURANT REVIEW

The Agony & the Ecstasy of Micah Edelstein’s Feisty Lamb

A one-woman restaurant bursts with heartfelt ideas and world flavors—if you can stick around long enough to taste them.

01/25/2016 By Karen Brooks

COMFORT FOOD

16 Ridiculously Comforting Dishes from Around the Globe

Search out your next rainy-day dish or guilty pleasure by comfort keyword: soothing, hearty, homey, gooey, or spicy.

01/25/2016 Edited by Kelly Clarke By Benjamin Tepler, Karen Brooks, Marty Patail, Molly Woodstock, Rachel Ritchie, Ramona DeNies, and Zach Dundas

BREAKING NEWS

Portland’s Din Din Will Close in February

Courtney Sproule is hanging up her apron for now. We’ll miss her unusual blend of French cooking, seasonal intensity and changing monthly décor.

01/18/2016 By Karen Brooks and Benjamin Tepler

EAT THIS NOW

Where to Eat This Week

From spicy miso ramen at Departure to oysters at Olympia Oyster Bar, these are the things you must devour right now.

01/13/2016 By Eat Beat Team

FORECASTING 2016

We Predict: Portland’s Best Restaurants 2016

A charcoal-fired paella restaurant, a Southern Thai curry house, the city’s first food hall, and bold new small plates compete to be Portland’s next great breakout.

01/13/2016 By Karen Brooks

BREAKING FOOD NEWS

Either/Or’s Ro Tam Is Bringing Won Ton Noodle Soup to Sellwood

Traditional techniques, old-school crooners, and moody nights will come together in February at a tiny new shop from a dedicated brother-sister team.

01/04/2016 By Karen Brooks

Year in Review

Karen Brooks’s Best Portland Dishes 2015

Portland Monthly’s food critic on the dishes that defined the year.

12/29/2015 By Karen Brooks

YEAR IN REVIEW

The Biggest Openings and Closures of 2015

The Eat Beat team examines the year in Portland restaurants.

12/28/2015 By Benjamin Tepler, Karen Brooks, and Kelly Clarke

BREAKING FOOD NEWS

Nodoguro Relocating to Stray Birds Space in NE Portland

Come January, the inventive Japanese tasting menu restaurant will hold court in one of the city’s most hidden, magical spaces. (Get ready for the 21-course “super hardcore” dinners.)

12/22/2015 By Karen Brooks

WORD OF MOUTH

Two Coffee Shops and More to Check Out in January

Portland Monthly food critic Karen Brooks dishes on the restaurants, obsessions, and under-the-radar finds of the month.

12/21/2015 By Karen Brooks

REVIEW

Does Muscadine Make Portland’s Best Fried Chicken?

Laura Rhoman’s tiny Northeast Portland eatery delivers a genuine taste of the South, Nashville hot birds to true grits.

12/21/2015 By Karen Brooks

HIT LIST

10 Awesome Chocolate Bars for the Holidays

We snapped open bars from Portland and beyond to answer your stocking stuffer prayers. Or keep them for yourself. We won’t tell.

12/15/2015 By Karen Brooks

READ 'EM AND EAT

The Best Local Cookbooks of 2015

From groundbreaking charcuterie tomes to giftable picnic handbooks, these are the year’s must-read Portland recipe collections.

12/15/2015 By Benjamin Tepler, Karen Brooks, and Kelly Clarke

PORTLAND BUCKET LIST

Are You a Real Portlander?

Have you sprinted up Tabor? Gone commando at the World Naked Bike Ride? Consumed *all* the beer? Take our quiz to find out if you’re (nearly) native—or just got off the bus.

12/11/2015 Edited by Marty Patail With Karen Brooks, Ramona DeNies, Allison Jones, Fiona McCann, Rachel Ritchie, and Benjamin Tepler

EAT HERE NOW

Where to Eat This Week

From creamy, masa-steeped hot chocolate at Portland Mercado to a final Middle East brunch at Levant, these are the things you must consume this week.

12/07/2015 By Eat Beat Team

INTERVIEW

Q&A with Roger Porter: Eating Words Is a Feast of Reading

A new anthology of food writing, coedited by former Portland food critic Roger J. Porter, is an epic collection of food tales by familiar and surprising writers.

12/04/2015 By Karen Brooks

BREAKING NEWS

Sneak Peek at Hat Yai, Langbaan’s Upcoming Sister Restaurant

It’s a curry house, a Southern Thai fried chicken joint, and the most intriguing restaurant on Portland’s horizon. As Hat Yai readies to open, Eat Beat has the first look at menu and chef details.

12/01/2015 By Karen Brooks

BEAN SCENE

Four Reasons to Sip at Coffeehouse Northwest

Northwest Portland’s premier coffee shop unveils a holiday menu worth celebrating. Glug eggnog latte with extra purpose on Thanksgiving morning, when all “pay what you like” proceeds go to charity.

11/24/2015 By Karen Brooks