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. 

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

MOCKTAILS

Hot Tips for Teetotalers

What to drink if you don’t drink.

04/22/2016 By Karen Brooks

BREAKING NEWS

Chef Doug Adams Leaving Imperial for an Undisclosed Project

The guy who brought Texan spice and Top Chef fans to the downtown hot spot will phase out this year to pursue a new opportunity.

04/20/2016 By Karen Brooks

BOOK REVIEW

Portland Chef Ryan Roadhouse Guest Stars in Questlove’s Wild New Food Book

The famed hip-hop drummer and food explorer reboots the food conversation with Somethingtofoodabout. One of his biggest muses? Nodoguro, PoMo’s Restaurant of the Year 2015. 

04/12/2016 By Karen Brooks

Weekly Planner

Southern Cocktail Class, Passover Seder at Kenny & Zuke's, and More Portland Food Events

…including a month of special chef xurros from Lardo’s Rick Gencarelli, ice cream and comedy at Morgan St. Theater, and cider camp with Bull Run.

04/11/2016 By Sarah Hopwood

BREAKING NEWS

Pine Street Market Opens Very, Very Softly

Eat Beat gets an early-bird look at Pine Street Market, with tastes from two star-studded new eateries: Trifecta Annex and Pollo Bravo. Let Stumptown's experimental food hall mania commence!

04/09/2016 By Kelly Clarke

EAT HERE NOW

Where to Eat This Week

From fried cauliflower at Mediterranean Exploration Company to Apizza Scholls delivery, these are the things you must eat this week.

04/06/2016 By Eat Beat Team

BREAKING NEWS

New Spot Tusk to Remix Middle Eastern Food for Farm-Centric Portland

Ava Gene’s chef Joshua McFadden gathers a talented team to rethink the world of couscous and cocktails. Rhubarb and parsnip baklava, anyone? Eat Beat has all the details.

03/29/2016 By Karen Brooks

REVIEW

Granola Power Ranking

Presenting Portland’s best morning bowls, oats to nuts.

03/25/2016 By Karen Brooks

WORD OF MOUTH

Han Oak Plays with Korean Cuisine, 180 Fries Up Spanish Xurros, and More to Check Out in April

From Peter Cho’s inventive prix fixe dinners to Jose Chesa’s pastry and paella, Portland Monthly food critic Karen Brooks dishes on the obsessions of the month.

03/25/2016 By Karen Brooks

RECOMMENDED EATING

The Best Finds at 180, Xurros to Dipping Sauces

We ate our way through Portland’s first xurreria to save you the calories.

03/23/2016 By Karen Brooks

HIT LIST

Where to Eat During Portland Dining Month

Which of the city’s 120-plus restaurants will you explore during our frugal, creative dining month? We’ve got a few ideas….

03/14/2016 By Sarah Hopwood

EAT HERE NOW

Where to Eat This Week: Mar 9–15

From luxurious buttered tea cake at Maurice to messy brisket burgers at Smokehouse Tavern, these are the things you must eat right now.

03/09/2016 By Eat Beat Team