This February edition of Where to Drink, our monthly roundup of fun cocktails and drinks to try, is anything but run-of-the-mill. It's a quintet of unexpected sips you'll find in unexpected locations, none of which are traditional bars. Some of these drinks have alcohol, but some do not.

Here is our out-of-the-ordinary Where to Drink for February:

Beyond Booze Beverage Co.
Pop-up vendor specializes in drinks that are alcohol-free (AF). It's a collaboration from Reid Robinson and Julie Wade Robinson, who previously owned two bars in Richardson; and Andrea Benningfield and Jennifer Benningfield, general manager at Brewed, the coffee shop at Novel Bishop Arts. Their drink lineup includes two dozen AF spirits and botanical elixirs including Athletic Brewing Co. AF beer, Seedlip Spirits, and Dallas' own Community NADA IPA. They're doing pop-ups and social events, and that includes this one on February 11 at The Melting Pot Market, at Brewed in Bishop Arts from 2-7 pm.

Bonefish Grill
Casual dining seafood restaurant with locations in Allen & Southlake has revived its Sunday brunch with frittatas, French toast sticks, and more. But to the point of this roundup, they've added cocktails served in Shareable Pitchers so you can fill your glass to your heart's content with Blackberry Red Sangria, Sparkling Mango White Sangria, or Parker’s Margarita, finished with OJ & Grand Marnier. These join classic brunch cocktails such as Bloody Mary’s, espresso martinis, and mimosas.

Leela's Wine Bar
Highly instagrammable wine bar with locations on Dallas' Greenville Avenue and Trophy Club has transformed into a Galentines Pop-Up, with cocktails, heart-shaped pizzas, florals, and floor-to-ceiling pink. They're serving heart-shaped pizzas, a dessert board, and special cocktails such as Buy Myself Flowers, containing strawberry-hibiscus gin, elderfloewr, guava, lime, rhubarb bitters, and aquafaba vegan meringue. The Trophy Club location accepts reservations, but Dallas is first-come first-serve, with a waitlist at the door. Through February 26.

Sweet Tooth Hotel
Immersive art venue is hosting the first official Girl Scout cookie cocktail bar at its downtown Dallas installation at 1511 Elm St. An interactive photo installation with cookie box creations and photo props greets you in the lobby, and troops are there selling cookies on weekends. They worked closely Girl Scouts of North East Texas to ensure that the cocktails — devised by Sweet Tooth bar manager Steven Yeager — would be true to the cookies including Trefoils shortbread, Thin Mints, TagAlongs, Lemon-Ups, and Samoas. It'll be there through March 3.

Tre Stelle Coffee Co.
Coffee shop from father-and-son Yordan and Jonathan Ghebreamlak opened in mid-2022 in a North Dallas shopping center, where it serves cappuccinos and lattes, plus seasonal specials such as peppermint mocha. But the talker is their "Cold-Fashioned," a sophisticated non-alcoholic cold brew coffee made from beans aged in bourbon barrels, then poured over two cold brew ice cubes. The original comes with an orange peel twist. They also have spinoffs such as the Maple Sugar Cold Fashioned, with maple syrup and a cinnamon stick. (They also have a few sandwiches, pastries, and croissants.)

Cantina Laredo

Where to drink in Dallas right now: 5 restaurants & bars with fun flights

Where to Drink

For many, January is a time to step back from the excess of the holidays that preceded it. Join a gym, start a new diet, cut back on alcohol. All of those things are a good idea.

But CultureMap's monthly column Where to Drink resides in a different realm. Its reason for being is to offer recommendations for cocktails and things to sip. We shall not, cannot, flinch from that mission. While everyone else is making lists of mocktails, we're going with flights: Bars that are serving not one drink at a time but multiples so you can mix and match.

Here are 5 restaurants and bars with fun flights:

Akira Back
Japanese restaurant at the Grandscape in The Colony is part of a global chain from jetsetter chef Akira Back serving innovative modern Japanese food that's ultra-shareable, including a signature pizza topped with shaved-thin slices of rare tuna. They offer an amazing selection of sake-themed flights in four categories: light & crisp, fruity & floral, feminine & fierce, and rich & bold. Sake can be intimidating, and these flights offer a wonderful point of entry.

Cantina Laredo
Tex-Mex chain Cantina Laredo is celebrating the 75th anniversary of the margarita with a limited-edition nostalgic “Flight Down Margarita Lane” featuring trademark margaritas in a flight format including the Perfect Patrόn ‘Rita, the Grilled Peach ‘Rita, and the Sangria Swirl for $16. Don't worry, full-size versions of the cocktails are also available. It'll launch on Thursday, January 17, and run through Monday, April 10, at its locations in Addison, Frisco, and Tyler.

Gillespie's Tavern
Irish pub in Richardson does all your pub basics: whiskeys, imported beers, and traditional pub food such as fish & chips and shepherd's pie. They have an enormous stock of bourbons, Scotch, and Irish whiskey — and hello, a major commitment to flights, with 10 themed offerings priced from $20 to $25, including Scotches, the Irish family, the boozes of Jameson, a Kentucky bourbon flight, a Texas-themed flight, and a Buffalo family with four bourbons by Buffalo Trace.

Snooze an A.M. Eatery
This one's kind of cheating because it's not a booze flight, although one of the draws of this buzzy Denver-based breakfast chain is its full bar with cocktails, beer, and spiked coffee. So have a drink if you must, and enjoy their pancake flight featuring three of their signature flapjacks: pineapple upside down pancakes, Blueberry Danish pancakes, and Sweet Potato pancakes.

Thirsty Lion Gastropub
No flight roundup is complete without a beer flight, and this Arizona-based chain has it covered with craft beer flights where you can taste any six beers for $12. Their Texas flight is like a Lone Star Greatest Hits, featuring Karbach Kolsch, Deep Ellum Dallas Blonde, Community Mosaic IPA, Texas Ale Project Fire Ant Funeral Amber Ale, Peticolas Velvet Hammer Red, and 512 Pecan Porter. At all four locations in Preston Hollow, The Colony, Irving, and Euless.

Photo by Julie Soefer

Where to drink in Dallas right now: 5 best spots for a Champagne toast

Where to Drink

It's the season for toasts, and that brings us to our theme for the December edition of Where to Drink, our monthly roundup of the best spots in town to grab a drink: Where to get a glass of bubbly.

Champagne is kind of abuzz right now, with a few recent openings, and those appear on this DFW-wide list.

Here are five best bars right now for sparkling toasts:

French-inspired bar claims to be newly open at 4234 Oak Lawn Ave. at The Shops of Highland Park, but definitely by New Year's Eve, with a selection of champagnes, sparkling wines, and still wines sourced from France and Texas. That includes more than 15 champagnes and sparkling wines by the glass and 50 labels by the bottle - Perrier-Jouët, Veuve Clicquot, Taittinger, Pol Roger, and Ruinart, as well as Texan sparkling wines from William Chris.

Elephant Bar
This bar-within-a-restaurant is tucked inside the acclaimed Bishop Arts restaurant Ame, where it's serving a variety of sparkling wines, as well as cocktails with a French Indian twist, in a sexy setting with velvet couches, gold accents, mirrors, chandelier, and elephant door handles. The list includes eight champagnes ranging from Val de Mer sparkling for $14 per glass or $60 per bottle, all the way up to Drappier Brut Grand, available by the bottle only for $300.

Plano hot spot features two full-service bars, one inside and one outside, a patio with a retractable roof and fire pits, an ever-changing drink menu, food including charcuterie boards, salads, and fondue, and a really friendly and hospitable staff. But the reason we are here today is its massive champagne list, with more than 50 sparkling wines, including 20 Champagnes from France, said to be the largest in the state of Texas, and who are we to disagree. It's an impressive lineup, with names such as Taittinger, Charles Heidsieck, Dom Perignon, Andre Clouet, Nomine-Renard, Louis Roederer, Perrier-Jouet, and more.

Cute new restaurant at Trinity Groves has a pretty good selection of sparkling including Mumm Rose, Veuve Cliquot, Lallier, Perrier Jouet, Ruinart Rose, and Dom Perignon (whose prices they unfortunately do not list online. If they don't list prices, it's never good news). But the shtick here - the Instagrammable shtick - is the champagne vending machine that spits out mini bottles of Moet & Chandon Imperial.

Pinky's Champagne Room & Velvet Jazz Lounge
This one's all the way in Fort Worth, but it's one champagne room with live music that's worth the hike. Husband-and-wife John Cocke and Dena Mangrum-Cocke are spotlighting sparkling wines, featuring champagnes by the bottle and by the glass, along with bubbles from around the world, as well as bubbly cocktails like an Aperol Spritz.

Nosh Creative

Tex-Mex takeover of old Spiral Diner space tops this week's 5 hottest Dallas headlines

This week's hot headlines

Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that list here. Want some State Fair discounts? Find those here.

1. Spiral Diner space in Oak Cliff Dallas nabbed by beloved brothers' Tex-Mex. A Dallas Tex-Mex restaurant that built a devoted following at its previous location has re-emerged: La Comida Mexican Kitchen and Cocktails, which drew fans during its five-year tenure at the Village on the Parkway up by Addison, has nabbed the former Spiral Diner space in Oak Cliff, where it will open in late fall.

2. La Madeleine Cafe closes favorite longtime Dallas neighborhood location. A longtime location of La Madeleine, the Dallas-based French-inspired bakery and cafe, has closed. It's the location at 3906 Lemmon Ave. and it closed on October 6.

3. Where to drink in Dallas right now: 5 bars with fall cocktails for October. This edition of Where to Drink, CultureMap's monthly column offering advice on the best places to drink, has five places that have unveiled cozy cocktails with a decidedly fall twist. Bring on the cider, the cinnamon spice, and the extra-spooky dry ice.

4. Ex-Lucia Dallas space makes way for NY restaurant with brunch all day. Pull out your world atlas for this: A new restaurant and bar based in New York is coming to Dallas from an Australian team. Called Isla & Co., it'll open in Bishop Arts, at 408 W. 8th St., better known as the former Lucia Dallas space. (Lucia relocated to 287 N. Bishop Ave.)

5. North Texas house goes all pink this Halloween for breast cancer awareness. Angela Fincher says she’s not entirely sure why she decided to decorate her house pink, but she knows she had to do something to raise awareness for breast cancer survivors. This October — Halloween month and Breast Cancer Awareness Month — she has decorated her home in North Richland Hills with pink Christmas lights and a pink pumpkin patch in her yard to raise awareness of breast cancer.

Photo courtesy of Ariana Delbar

New cat cafe prowls into this week's 5 most popular Dallas stories

This Week's Hot Headlines

Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that list here.

1. New cat cafe will prowl into East Dallas from kitty rescue group. A well-known Dallas cat rescue organization is expanding its reach with a new cat cafe. Called the Cat Café, it's from nonprofit A Voice for All Paws (AVAP), and will provide a home for rescued cats, a sanctuary for cat lovers to grab a coffee, and a place for abandoned cats to get access to veterinary care.

2. Dallas hot rod king Richard Rawlings is clearing out Gas Monkey Garage. There was a double dose of news about Dallas hot rodder Richard Rawlings this week. First came news that the Fast N' Loud reality show star and owner of Gas Monkey Garage was selling off a slew of classic cars — nearly his entire collection. Then came word that he's gearing up to open another bar-restaurant mega-venue in Dallas-Fort Worth.

3. Dallas designer serves up new sustainable loungewear brand inspired by Juicy Couture. Dallas-born designer Monica Millington is launching a new loungewear brand that, she hopes, will provide an ethical alternative to fast fashion while playing on millennial nostalgia. Called Sette, it's a line of sustainable, unisex loungewear officially launching online Saturday, August 27.

4. Where to drink in Dallas right now: 5 bars with ultra-hot happy hours. Fall has (almost) arrived, and if there's one thing that a change in seasons always brings to mind, it's happy hours. This August edition of Where to Drink rounds up five new candidates with exciting happy hour programs, some with great drink specials, some with food and drink, and one that's really just all about a cheap martini at lunch.

5. Cirque du Soleil's first-ever Christmas show makes Dallas debut for 2022 holidays. 'Twas four months before Christmas and all through Dallas-Fort Worth, holidayeventnews was stirring — and now comes a Cirque. Cirque du Soleil’s inaugural Christmas show, "‘Twas the Night Before…" will make its North Texas debut at Texas Trust CU Theatre in Grand Prairie during the 2022 holiday season.

A new cat cafe is coming to East Dallas.

Kitten Shower
Photo courtesy of Ariana Delbar
A new cat cafe is coming to East Dallas.
Courtesy photo

Where to drink in Dallas right now: 5 bars with ultra-hot happy hours

Where to Drink

Fall has (almost) arrived and if there's one thing that a change in seasons always brings to mind, it's Happy Hours. This August edition of Where to Drink rounds up five new candidates with exciting Happy Hour programs, some with great drink specials, some with food and drink, and one that's really just all about a cheap martini at lunch.

Here's our list of spots for Where to Drink in August:

Greenville Avenue cocktail bar has many things in the works including two recently introduced new menus: a new regular cocktail menu PLUS a new Happy Hour menu. The new regular cocktail menu has some out-there items such as the Holy Pozole cocktail made with corn that's inspired by the Mexican soup. You'll have to do that on your own time, because we're here for the Happy Hour. The new lineup includes a lemon drop with Absolute citron; rum with passion fruit & ginger beer; dark rum with soda & bitters; and mezcal with Génépi, an herbal liqueur. Prices run from $8 to $11, and the Happy Hour runs almost every day, Sunday through Friday 5-7 pm.

Barcelona Wine Bar
For the first time ever, the Mediterranean-inspired tapas spot in the Knox-Henderson neighborhood has launched an all-new Happy Hour with drinks, bites, and specials that can only be found during this new Happy Hour timeframe. Available Monday-Thursday 4-6 pm, it’s designed to support the existing tapas and Mediterranean-style cuisine already on the menu and draw in the community to try new, interesting items not found on the regular menu. That means half price on all bottles of sparkling wine, plus 7-ounce beers starting at $3.75, along with drinks such as the mini espresso martini, mini dirty martini with gin and green olive infused dry vermouth, and the cool Sacaback, a sherry shot blended with brandy and served with a side of Guindilla pepper brine. Happy Hour foodstuffs include potato chips with Lomo Ibérico, crispy chickpeas with pimentón, beef tartare with mustard vinaigrette, and mini churros with dulce de leche. Fantástico!

Dahlia on Ross
Southern-European inspired spot at Ross & Hall in East Dallas is bringing back the 3-martini lunch, one quarter at a time. On Fridays, they're doing a lunch special from 11 am-3 pm featuring a 25-cent martini, either their Ketel One Classic martini or their Ketel Oranje Espresso Martini. You only get one at this price, and it must be ordered with a food menu item. Come on, no coming in and just ordering a 25-cent martini. But if you wish to continue your Friday day-drinking, their Dahlia cocktail (Ketel One, watermelon juice, basil) is $6 instead of the usual $13, beer is $5, and house wine and Prosecco are $7.

Deep Ellum steakhouse with a global menu is celebrating its one-year anniversary with a variety of fanfares and that includes the thing we care about most in the Where to Drink space: a new Happy Hour menu. It's generous in price and selection, with deals on the drinks and a menu of good bites as well. Drinks-wise, it's half off all of their signature cocktails, beer, and wine (with the exception of sparkling, dang). Snacks include Thai potstickers, deviled eggs, hummus with crudite, Korean fried cauliflower, tempura, and Szechuan chili chicken, all $8 each.

Sky Blu Rooftop Bar
Design District rooftop bar on the ninth floor of the Tru by Hilton Dallas Market Center off Interstate 35 hosts Happy Hour every day from 4-7 pm, featuring $7 well cocktails, $6 draft beer, $5 house wines, $6 frose, and $10 signature cocktails. Did you say frose? The setting is pretty divine, featuring a sprawling outdoor and indoor space with abundant seating, comfy couches, fire pits, and views from here to downtown Dallas and back.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

DFW's dismal ranking among best places to live leads this week's 5 most-read headlines

This week's hot headlines

Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that list here.

1. Dallas-Fort Worth no longer a top 100 place to live, declares U.S. News & World Report. Dallas-Fort Worth has fallen from grace in a closely watched annual report of the best places to live in the U.S. The Metroplex appears at a dismal No. 113 (out of 150) in U.S. News & World Report's Best Places to Live ranking for 2023-2024. Last year, DFW landed at No. 32; it was No. 37 in 2021. Here's (sort of) why it plummeted in the rankings.

2. Sliders restaurant from Detroit shimmies onto Dallas' Greenville Ave. A slider concept from the Great Lakes State is expanding to Texas, and that includes a high-profile location in Dallas: Called Savvy Sliders, it's a young fast-casual concept founded in Flint, Michigan, and it will open its first Dallas restaurant at 4818 Greenville Ave., in the space recently vacated by vegan chicken restaurant Project Pollo.

3. New lagoon-waterpark with lazy river dives into Dallas-Fort Worth. A long-awaited waterpark in Cedar Hill is debuting Memorial Day weekend with two of Texas' favorite splashy attractions: a lagoon and lazy river. The Lagoon at Virginia Weaver Park will open Saturday, May 27 after more than a year in development.

4. Happy Hippie Brewing to bring peace, love, and beer to new HQ in Richardson. A craft beer brewery is opening a splendid new facility in Richardson: Happy Hippie Brewing Company, a small brewery specializing in Belgian-style beers, is opening an an 11,000-square-foot brewery and taproom at 500 Lockwood Dr., in the Lockwood area within the city's evolving CORE District.

5. Asian restaurant Howard Wang's shutters location in Uptown Dallas. A Chinese restaurant in Uptown Dallas closed: Howard Wang's Uptown Grill, one in a family-owned chain, closed its location at 3223 Lemmon Ave. #103, with the final day of service on May 21. The restaurant had been at that location for 12 years.

21 North Texas museums offer free admission to military families this summer

Giving Back

Nearly two dozen Dallas-Fort Worth museums are honoring active duty military personnel and their families with free admission through the Blue Star Museums initiative, May 20-September 4, 2023.

Established by the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, and the U.S. Department of Defense, the Blue Star Museums program annually provides military families free access to 2,000 museums nationwide throughout the summer. The program begins yearly on Armed Forces Day in May and ends on Labor Day.

Free admission is extended to personnel currently serving in the U.S Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard (including those in the Reserve), and all National Guardsman. Members of the U.S. Public Health Commissioned Corps and NOAA Commissioned Corps are also included in the program.

Those who qualify can use their military ID to bring up to five family members - including relatives of those currently deployed. More information about qualifications can be found here.

There is no limit on the number of participating museums that qualifying families may visit. Admission for non-active military veterans, however, is not included.

According to the National Endowment for the Arts website, the initiative was created to help "improve the quality of life for active duty military families" with a specific focus on children. The site states 2 million have had a parent deployed since 2001.

"Blue Star Museums was created to show support for military families who have faced multiple deployments and the challenges of reintegration," the organizers say. "This program offers these families a chance to visit museums this summer when many will have limited resources and limited time to be together."

In Dallas-Fort Worth, participating institutions include well-known art, science, and history museums, as well as smaller museums outside the city limits. Here's a look at all the museums in North Texas that are participating in the Blue Star Museums initiative this year.

In Dallas:

In Fort Worth:

In Garland:

In Irving:

In Mesquite:

In Cleburne:

In Krum:

In Sanger:

More information about Blue Star Museums and a full list of participants can be found on arts.gov.

These are the 7 best most intriguing hot dogs in Dallas right now

Hot Dog News

Editor's Note: In prior stories, CultureMap contributor Lila Levy has sussed out the top bagels in Dallas, and tried pretty much every lavender latte in town. Now she's ready to offer her take on that summertime classic: hot dogs.

Portillo's hot dogs
portillo's hot dogs


Hot dogs are the quintessential summer food and an item that nearly everyone loves. They're simple, flavorful, easy to make at home, and affordable if you dine out.

Some cities like Chicago have a long-standing tradition with hot dogs, and while Dallas is not Windy-City-level quiet yet, we've seen an influx of some exciting new hot dog concepts come to town, joining a few locals who've been dishing out memorable hot dogs all along.

Here's the 7 most interesting hot dogs you can find in Dallas-Fort Worth:

Portillo’s in the Colony, Chicago-style hot dog, $4.50
Chicago-based fast casual brand known for its hot dogs and other favorite Chicago fare, has expanded to Texas, with its first restaurant in The Colony, which opened in January 2023. Chicago-style hot dogs are my favorite kind, and Portillo's does it right. Their basic hot dog comes with "everything": mustard, relish, celery salt, chopped onions, sliced tomato, pickle, and sport peppers on a steamed poppy seed bun. I loved the condiments, especially the peppers and relish. My companion thought the bun was too soft, but it was fine for me. Their hot dogs have a snappy casing with a robust tangy flavor.

Hunky'sHunky Dog, $4.25
Cedar Springs pioneer has been serving hamburgers, fries, and malts, since 1984. They're known for their burgers but they also do a trio of hot dogs including the classic "Hunky Dog," a hefty quarter-pounder with relish, onions, and mustard. I've been here before and know it's best to ask for the hot dog to be grilled extra, to give it that additional "burnt hot dog" cookout flavor. At $4.25, it's a bargain and their presentation is cool: They split the hot dog down the middle and place the onions and relish on top, and they toast the edges of their bun.

Fletcher's Original Corny DogsMake Mine Texan, $10
No story on hot dogs is complete without Fletcher's, famed purveyor of the classic corny dog. You used to have to wait for the State Fair of Texas to get them, but now that they have a food truck, you can find them camped at venues such as the Dallas Arboretum, and they're also at Klyde Warren Park Tuesdays-Sundays. They've expanded their lineup of flavors so I ordered their most recent invention: Called Make Mine Texan, it's a hot dog made of beef and brisket, with smoke seasoning that adds a heartier Texas flavor.

Dog Haus in RichardsonTooo Chi, $8
California hot dog chain takes a gourmet approach with jumbo hot dogs, veggie dogs, vegan sausages, and 40+ toppings including some you might not expect, such as arugula. I ordered the Tooo Chi, their version of the Chicago hot dog, which they brag is a hormone- and antibiotic-free beef hot dog, with tomato, pickle, neon-green pickle relish, mustard, diced onions, sport peppers, and celery salt. Their cooking added a nice char that emphasized the grilled flavor. It made me nostalgic to the days when my parents would grill hot dogs in the summer outside. Their point of distinction is their bread: sweet rich King's Hawaiian rolls, which they butter and grill, for a nice contrast of soft roll and crisp edges.

Angry DogAngry Dog, $8.95
Deep Ellum staple had hot dogs on the menu long before hot dogs became the foodie sensation they are today, and they offer a simple plain hot dog on a bun as a nod to those humble days. But everyone gets the signature Angry Dog: a kosher dog, split in half and grilled, placed on a toasted open-faced bun, then topped with chili, grilled red onions, mustard, and shredded cheddar cheese. It's more of a chili casserole than a hot dog, a knife-and-fork kind of deal where the bun gets soggy underneath the mountain of toppings, and you almost lose track of the hot dog. But unbeatable for a hangover cure or a big cheat meal.

Globe Life Field, Ballpark hot dog, $7
In recent years, the Texas Rangers' food service division has been jazzing up its ballpark menu, introducing new items, some of them crazy like the Boomstick 2-foot-long hot dog. I stick to the basic ballpark hot dog, with the only option being that you can get grilled onions at no additional charge. It's a standard six-inch hot dog, with self-serve mustard, ketchup, and relish, on a soft, nondescript bun, with a nice snap, the prototypical hot dog you eat while cheering on the hometown team.

Frank Seoul, Potato hot dog, $5.49
Korean hot dogs, also known as Korean corn dogs, are a Korean street food that started showing up in Dallas a few years ago, via Korean-born chains such as Two Hands and K-Town. Frank Seoul was one of the first and has locations in Carrollton and Frisco. Their specialty is hot dogs coated in a batter and deep-fried, like a corny dog but with a batter made from flour or rice flour, and additional ingredients such as the coating of diced potatoes in the potato hot dog that I ordered. They have a wild variety like a "cream cheese dog" — literally cream cheese on a stick &mdash and prices are all $6 or less.

This is not the place for a hot dog purist. The hot dog itself was lackluster, but the "shell" of crispy fried potatoes was magnificent, like a wonderful hash brown, and great on its own, didn't need the mustard I added a bit.