Don's Burgers: Was the Long Wait Worth It?

Short answer: Maybe? Long answer: Read on.

I like food; I will make no apologies.

Such a generous affection for chow certainly has its ups: I have enjoyed a lot of different kinds of food, from as many categories and sub-categories and sub-sub-categories that can be consumed. The expansive down: I have put on about 25 pounds . Maybe 30.

Going back to that "up," though, I have eaten a lot of different kinds of food. And I, like someone who drinks a lot of wine, have developed what I would consider an at-least more acute sense of taste and appreciation than, say, someone who eats only one kind of food, or style of food, day-in, day-out.

Which brings me to , which really can't be called "fast" food, as it takes a bit longer than your usual Dollar Value Menu item. Though it serves up much of the same fare of your standard Mickey D's or BK, neither myself, nor the many fans that have been waiting a long time for this consumable tribute to , would lump it in the same category.

But, I never ate at that Don's. So, I do not have perhaps the nostalgia many of its patrons coming now to its Morristown rebirth have. I also try (sometimes successfully, sometimes not) to vary my culinary canvas with a lot of different items, from Korean to Italian, Osso Bucco to octopus brain (the latter of which was one of the few items I am not itching to try again). It makes me a Jack of all Tastes, master of none.

So, when I tucked into my cheddar burger and fries at Don's this week, I was not overwhelmed. Nor was I disappointed. The meat–claimed to be 100-percent fresh ground Angus beef–is cooked to order. The cheddar was much more flavorful and rewarding than a slice of sloppy American cheese. The lettuce was crisp, the onions sharp. The tomato, well, tomatoes are lousy wherever you go this time of year.

The fries were another story. I didn't get a great look, but I think they are fresh-fried potatoes. They're ... OK. Personally, I like my fries thicker. These are more the shoestring kind and–this is going to sound bad–tasted too much like potatoes. Yes, that sounded bad. Have I just eaten too much crap to appreciate these? Who knows?

I don't think Don's is going to have any trouble attracting a loyal fanbase of customers that never experienced its Livingston ancestor. And, while I am so, so poised to shave off some of that 25 (maybe 30) pounds amassed from too many "Morristown Munchies," I certainly see myself popping in again for another bite. 

So, is my opinion of this new burger joint a result of just having had a lot of different flavors pass by my lips over the last 18 months? Or, have warm and fuzzy memories of past Don's diners clouded some initial impressions? I can't honestly say if one is more accurate than another. It's up to you, my burger-loving readers, to try and decide on your own.

Ryan February 10, 2012 at 09:23 PM
Went last night and had the pizza burger. Thought it was pretty good, not great. Disagree, however, on the fries; they were delicious. Not usually a shoestring fry kinda person, but they were delightfully crispy and tasty. Also liked that they allowed us to BYOB.
julia pilas February 11, 2012 at 02:37 AM
When a place "Specializes in Burgers" I expect to be "WOWED" by that Burger and sadly I wasn't. Not to say it wasn't "Good"....just to say it wasn't "Different"!
Warren Bobrow February 11, 2012 at 01:27 PM
I remember the old Don's, down Columbia Turnpike from Newark Academy. The new Don's, although still working out their kinks is as much like the old Don's as Ray's Famous Pizza in NYC. Neither Ray's NOR Famous. The New Don's has to keep their eye on the plate- if customers like Julia (who is in business on South St.) says it's not that great, I'm going to try it myself. The only other place that makes a burger worth discussing is URBAN Table, but not because it is good. It's anything but good. A crumbly roll, burger cooked into submission... If Don's is going to succeed- they need to do everything right. Not just some of the time, but all of the time! As far as putting on weight reviewing restaurants- I do this for my living (not a well paid one) and I've actually lost weight. You do not and are NEVER required to finish everything on your plate! Cheers! http://www.cocktailwhisperer.com wb
Rich February 11, 2012 at 01:30 PM
I went to the old Don's regularly, from the time I was in a high chair until it closed. No doubt my view might be tainted by wanting this place to succeed. Old Don's had the best pizza burger and the.best onion rings I ever ate (and I eat a lot of them....) The new place nails the very distinctive sauce, though they don't put much on the burger. The burger itself is very good, not charbroiled like the old place, so I would say good but not quite as good. The onion rings are great and identical to the original in taste, I love your reviews but you can't really review Don's without the onion rings. Over all, not quite the religious experience that the original was, but I like it very much and will go there regularly.
Mary H. February 11, 2012 at 01:48 PM
I cant wait to try this place! Who doesnt love a burger and fries?? Its great that Morristown has this kind of restaurant! I think it will be such a fun place to take my young daughter. And plus, I love thin fries. I already know I'll be a fan.
James St momma February 11, 2012 at 03:48 PM
My husband and I would often ask each other what new retail does Morristown need? I think that Don's is a great addition. It's casual enough for kids and its highlight is burgers, fries and shakes. Perfect, we certainly didn't need another pizza place!! I've eaten there twice and think the burgers are much better than Five Guys. The mushroom swiss is really terrific. Moist and just the right amount of salt, cheese and mushrooms. I didn't need to add a thing. I have not tried their onion rings but look forward to doing so on my next visit.
wretchedone February 11, 2012 at 04:23 PM
Still can't understand how the "Historic Preservation Commission" chairman went along with the design of this place. The food may be ok, but the design belongs on Route 10, not in Morristown. Thumbs down for the the Preservation Commission.
Andrew Gering February 12, 2012 at 02:23 AM
Try the new SHAKE IT, by the court house best burgers anywhere.. Thy do the Hot dogs exactly like Rutts Hutt, All the toppings are free.
Kathleen Hoppes February 16, 2012 at 03:25 PM
We were there Saturday evening. While I enjoyed my meal, I didn't enjoy the long wait to get it (I know, what was I thinking? It's Saturday!). I LOVE french fries, but I found Don's to be a bit too thin for my taste. The onion rings were yummy; I would have preferred a bit more batter. I grew up in the shadow of the original Don's. My uncle was a cook there in the early '60s. They have big shoes to fill. I hope they succeed. I'll be going back, but on a week night, I think.
I. M. Legion April 04, 2012 at 01:51 AM
I remembered the original Don's in Livingston and called another Millburn HS alum who came with her husband from NYC...all with fond memories. Luckily, the original Don is no longer with us to see what has happened to his creation. The burgers were small, on a Shop Rite-like roll, with gushing spaghetti sauce so the whole thing was a mushy mess, the slice of cheese was thin and wasn't melted and gooey--let alone warm. The onions alone were good. The brownie a la mode was just a very small brownie with 2 scoops of ice cream and some cool fudge. There was no whipped cream or a cherry. Nothing special at all. None of us was impressed, nor will be returning. Not the old Don's!
Susan P. April 14, 2012 at 02:14 PM
Susan M. A few of us went to Don's the other night, and boy were we disappointed. I am a burger buff. Don's was one in a Million, and can never be duplicated. I ordered a medfium rare burger, it came well done. Someone else ordered a medium burger, it came so well done. The onion rings were ok. Sorry, I don't want to be negative, but it sure iwasn't and never will be a Don's.
Big Aussie June 11, 2012 at 01:07 PM
The staff do not have any leadership. We went yesterday to fine the owner dressed like he was from a homeless shelter and was rearranging the tables and chairs into an awkward mess where nobody could sit down. Eventually some of the kids working there resorted his mess into something that resembled a place to pull up a chair and eat. We ordered and before we sat down after getting our drinks, one of the 4 burgers we ordered was slapped on the table. It then took 30 minutes for the other 3 to arrive so we sent the original back so we could have a fresh one. I guess they zapped it in the microwave as it was the same burger, not a fresh one. The food was passable but not seasoned properly and nothing that beats the other burger chains. Over priced and underwhelming.


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