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The chicken-fried pork belly with bacon jam melts in your mouth, not in your hand.

Image: Megha Tejpal

In a foodie world where nothing surprises me anymore, there's at least one local eatery which consistently pushes the limits with its over-the-top Southern-style dishes. At BRC Gastropub, chicken-fried goodness and extreme varieties of mac 'n' cheese have become the norm—and why shouldn't they be? I always ask. The restaurant boasts an ever-changing menu of extreme specials, a rotating list of craft beer and a casual yet eclectic vibe that is quintessentially Houston.

Located among the cluster of restaurants on Shepherd between Washington Avenue and Memorial Drive, BRC Gastropub is a casual joint where the menu truly takes center stage. Open for brunch, lunch and dinner, the restaurant's food ranges from late afternoon light bites to hearty portions of inventive creations like the barbecue beef belly poutine or the burger bowl (yes, bowl) complete with all the traditional toppings and two fried eggs. In addition to the adventurous menu options, the restaurant boasts daily specials where they tend to take things to the extreme. Tuesday's Draughts and Dogs features a Texas chili, Colombian or chef's pick hot dog of the week paired with a draught beer, each for $5. Sundays are reserved for Frito Pie Insanity: a loaded platter of the classic dish served in a way you have never experienced before.

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Barbecued pork belly atop a mountain of macaroni? Yes please.

Image: Megha Tejpal

Before you throw your diet out the window for this week and plan a visit to BRC, I encourage you to consider one of the most extreme options you may discover while dining there. Though there was a time when finding pork belly on a menu may have seemed extreme in and of itself, that's not as much the case in Houston restaurants these days. But chicken-fried pork belly? Served with bacon jam? Or barbecued pork belly atop a creamy mound of macaroni and cheese? Now we're talking. BRC Gastropub invites guests to feed their wildest cravings with these one of a kind creations, beautiful on the plate and decadent down to the last bite.

If pork belly is new to you and the thought of trying it is a little frightening—trust me, we've all been there with various dishes and ingredients—BRC ought to be the place for your first experience. Pork belly is simple stuff, though: it's really just over-the-top bacon, which makes it an excellent addition to macaroni bowls, burgers and many other dishes. BRC's nonchalant attitude to adding it to anything and everything is something that I can definitely get on board with.

Keeping with the mantra of supporting local, using fresh ingredients and providing guests with a variety of local beers on tap, BRC maintains a hip scene that only gets better and better with each passing year. The pet-friendly patio and bustling brunch scene keeps things lively on the weekends with an energetic vibe. And as the restaurant teases the public with ever more intriguing dishes on social media each day, BRC Gastropub proves that extreme is quickly becoming the new normal.

BRC Gastropub, 519 Shepherd Dr., 713-861-2233, brcgastropub.com

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