By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Dec 07, 2020 at 11:01 AM

In this series, we’ll be hiking the burger trail to find the latest, greatest and most delicious burgers in Milwaukee. Click here for an explanation of the criteria used to rate each burger. Where have we been? Check out the complete catalog of burger reviews here

Don's Grocery & Liquor
1100 S. 1st St., (414) 808-0805
donsmke.com

It’s been a while since I’ve been to Don’s for a burger. My last (on record) was the Don’s Burger, a fancy, pricier specimen served in a glassy pool of demi-glace and dripping with melted foie truffle butter. But when the diner pivoted to become Don’s Grocery and Liquor, the change brought a whole new slate of burgers, including the enticingly named Naughty Angel. 

Like the venue itself, the burger is named with a nod to Stand Eat Drink Hospitality partner Aaron Gersonde’s grandfather Don, a longtime Milwaukeean whose life was laid out in black and white photographs along the walls of the original diner. During World War II, Don worked as navigator for a plane dubbed Naughty Angel, which made passes through the skies above France and Germany. 

The Naughty Angel burger is $5.95 for a single or $7.95 for a double and topped with American Cheese and Naughty Angel Sauce on a brioche bun. For $1, you can also add “the works” (lettuce, tomato, caramelized onions). There are also fries ($2.95),  tater tots ($3.95) or onion rings ($4.95) to enjoy alongside.

Presentation: 8

The burger came tightly wrapped in paper and foil, a boon for keeping a burger toasty, but often a risk when it comes to a burger’s overall appearance. The situation didn't look particularly promising as I unwrapped it (above); but once i got it turned around (and found its "good" side), it seemed it hadn't fared too badly, even after being transported across town. The bun was a mite smashed, but firm and glossy, and the burger’s layers remained somewhat attractive, showcasing a peek of the caramelized burger patties, nicely melted cheese, red tomato, lettuce and a sexy droop of Naughty Angel sauce for good measure. Would this have rated better as a dine-in burger in terms of appearance? Sure. But it did OK for a take-out burger.

Bread/bun: 8

The brioche bun was among the more dense I’ve encountered. It was sweet with a glossy exterior that gave the bun a slight chew. The inside was nicely toasted and the bun overall was sweet and sturdy, even as the bottom half soaked in a good amount of the sauce.

Burger: 9 

The burger patties were nicely cooked, around medium in the center with nice caramelization on the exterior that resulted in a few savory, crisp edges. They were somewhat hefty in terms of size and nicely seasoned. And they bore a clean beefy flavor punctuated by a hint of black pepper.

Toppings: 8

The toppings were fresh and well balanced. The juicy tomatoes were thinly sliced with a fair amount of flavor and the lettuce (though more or less decimated by the heat of the burger) retained a modicum of crunch.

The fresh flavors played nicely with the umami of the melted cheese (and the crunch and acidic pop of pickles, which came alongside, but which I added to the burger – something I’d highly recommend if you like them).

The onions too, brought some nice flavor to  the table. They were vaguely sweet, evenly colored with just enough bite that they retained a bit of shape. Things came together thanks to the Naughty Angel sauce, which was mild and fresh in its flavor and quite unlike the tangier Thousand Island style burger sauces that you more commonly find.

Despite that, The Naughty Angel is a solid burger with a classic flavor. More proof that well-made burgers don’t have to try too hard to be tasty.

Value: 9 

When it comes to value, this burger sits right around the average mark in terms of price. It’s a more than fair price for its heft and the ingredients didn’t shortcut on flavor or freshness. 

Total: 42/50

The Double Naughty Angel is proof that a bit of naughty can make just about any day just a little bit nicer.

Don's Grocery & Cocktails offers dine-in service at the Speakeasy Thursday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to close and brunch Saturday and Sunday frrom 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Reservations required. Curbside pick-up and delivery is available Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to close and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to close.

Want to try out Don's Diner and save? Buy a Let's Eat MKE now! 

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.