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. 

EAT THIS NOW

Where to Eat This Week: August 10–17

Dirty dirty fries at OP Wurst and soft-serve at Lovely’s Fifty Fifty are your required eating for the week.

08/10/2016 By Eat Beat Team

BREAKING NEWS

The Inside Scoop on Upcoming Korean Spot Revelry

Eat Beat has the first look and menu details at Revelry, a new restaurant from Seattle superstars Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi.

08/08/2016 By Karen Brooks

Breaking News

Food Cart Standout Tiffin Asha to Open Brick-and-Mortar on NE Killingsworth

The cart gets a permanent home for its playful dosas and Southern Indian snacks across the street from Hat Yai and Podnah’s Pit.

08/02/2016 By Karen Brooks

Breaking News

Appalachian Hot Spot Mae to Launch Southern Brunch

Beginning September 4, rising chef Maya Lovelace will enter her vaunted fried chicken, serious baking, and farmers market finds into Portland’s Sunday brunch ring.

07/26/2016 By Karen Brooks

EAT THIS NOW

Where to Eat This Week: July 20-27

Al pastor tacos at Tight Tacos, boozy Sloshy Pops at New Deal, and playful cocktails at Tastebud are your required eating and drinking for the week.

07/20/2016 By Eat Beat Team

WORD OF MOUTH

What to Eat at Hat Yai, Langbaan’s Spin-Off Southern Thai Joint

Critic Karen Brooks gives (at least) one good reason southern Thai fried chicken is better than southern American fried chicken.

07/12/2016 By Karen Brooks

REVIEW

A Chef from Lima Unites Peru and Portland, Electric-Yellow Chile Swoops to Top-Notch Cebiche

At Paiche, Jose Luis de Cossio’s dishes are never boring.

07/12/2016 By Karen Brooks

BEST OF THE CITY 2016

Best of the City 2016: 11 Portland Eats, Spots, and Sips We Can’t Resist Right Now

Iced matcha-chai lattes to killer pastrami sandwiches, here are some of our city’s most delicious things.

06/13/2016 By Kelly Clarke, Eden Dawn, Marty Patail, Benjamin Tepler, Karen Brooks, and Rachel Ritchie

BEST OF THE CITY 2016

PDX Essentials: Quadrant by Quadrant, All the Things We Can’t Live Without

Secret beaches to art deco splendor to OG dive bars, here are some of our favorite things in every corner of Portland.

06/13/2016 By Portland Monthly Staff

WORD OF MOUTH

These Are Four of Portland’s Most Delicious Lunch Destinations

From Kim Jong Grillin’s Korean short ribs to Maurice’s gorgeous sandwiches, here are our some of our city’s greatest midday meals.

06/13/2016 By Karen Brooks

FARM FUNDING

Prairie Creek Farm Needs Our Help

The legendary organic farm from Joseph feeds some of the best kitchens in the city. Now, it’s on the ropes. Here’s how we can all pitch in.

05/25/2016 By Karen Brooks

REVIEW

Everyman’s Michelin: Why Coquine Matters

Ten months after earning our tag as Portland’s Next Rising Star, a bistro on SE Belmont comes into its own.

05/24/2016 By Karen Brooks

WORD OF MOUTH

Here’s Your Pine Street Market Cheat Sheet

Food critic Karen Brooks shares picks from Portland’s first food hall, packed with eats from eight celebrated local restaurateurs and counting.

05/19/2016 By Karen Brooks

REVIEW

Beyond Biscuits and Gravy

Farm-fresh Korean, Indian feasts, and highbrow stoner waffles reboot brunch.

05/19/2016 By Karen Brooks

FIRST LOOK

Nodoguro’s Lauded Japanese Dinners Begin New Chapter on SE Belmont

Portland Monthly’s 2015 Restaurant of the Year reopens May 18 in the former Genoa space. Eat Beat has the first peek inside.

05/18/2016 By Karen Brooks

BREAKING NEWS

Longtime Le Pigeon Chef Andrew Mace Leaves His Post for Sustainable Seafood Project

The talented chef de cuisine will sell subscriptions to a sustainable restaurant fishery and man a fresh-from-the-docks seafood cart, Local Fish, opening soon at NE Eighth and Couch.

05/09/2016 By Karen Brooks

BREAKING NEWS

Nomad.PDX Moving to New Location with Dinners in the Kitchen—Literally

As PoMo’s “Rising Star" modernist pop-up closes in on a brick-and-mortar lease, chefs Ryan Fox and Ali Matteis begin a new chapter inside the former Bowery Bagels kitchen.

05/03/2016 By Karen Brooks

BREAKING NEWS

Pok Pok’s Andy Ricker Closing Sen Yai; Nate Tilden of Olympia Provisions to Open Honky Tonk Taco in Its SE Division Space

Ricker will consolidate territory and expands his Whiskey Soda Lounge, while Tilden adds another charm to his fast-casual food bracelet.

04/28/2016 By Karen Brooks

BREAKING NEWS

Rose VL to Launch New Vietnamese “Plate Lunch” Menu

Beginning May 2, lunch is on at SE Powell’s tasty soup shop, from the founders of 82nd Avenue’s famed HA VL.

04/27/2016 By Karen Brooks

REVIEW

The X-Files

Jose Chesa’s own private Barcelona, xurros to xocolata.

04/22/2016 By Karen Brooks