In my younger days as a college student at William Paterson University, I remember passing the old North Star 23 Diner frequently on Route 23 North in Wayne. It was even one of my subjects of a final photography course thesis I presented on New Jersey diners.
Today, the Livanos Restaurant Group has transformed the location into a standout dining destination among the heavily saturated NJ diner-verse. Burger Deluxe grabs your attention with its visual appeal on its exterior; it’s interior content & character keep you coming back for more.
A congruent theme is a critical but often mishandled aspect of the food business. Burger Deluxe is on the money with the “feel good” recipe, capitalizing on the best of 1950s/60s retro: decor, music, menu, and good old-fashioned family fun.
While the menu is not the hulking page-turner you’ll find at most other competitors in its league, it doesn’t have to be due to the high level of quality in taste, preparation, and presentation. Burgers are in the spotlight as their specialty, but the other sandwiches, soups, salads, and appetizers receive the same love from the chef. Upon about 15+ visits now, I have never been disappointed with any option I’ve tried.
Favorites: En Fuego Burger, Buffalo (Bison) Burger, Skillet Mac & Cheese, Sante Fe Chicken Salad, and as of late, their Spinach Pie appetizer.
Another area Burger Deluxe pulls away from the pack is their beverages & desserts. Kids of all ages (us big ones too) will fall for the thick milkshakes, floats, local Boylan’s soda, and ice cream truffles. I crave their Watermelon Lemonade regularly; they use real purée for a beautiful layered sweet & sour mix. I confess, it’s the best mixed drink I’ve had without the need for alcohol. Which leads to a final thought- atmosphere.
Some diners in Jersey benefit from a liquor license; in many cases, they should be thankful as you can use the intoxicants to lower your expectations. As a social drinker, I also appreciate the diner/liquor combo. All this being said, Burger Deluxe needs no liquor license and if you’ve been there, you already know what I mean. It’s a glimpse into a simpler time, in the best ways possible: great food, pleasant & genuine service, great music (appropriate for all ages), sleek yet sentimental design, and smiles. You go there, and you don’t feel like you’re missing anything, despite a bustling NJ highway in view, the world slows down at Burger Deluxe. Nothing should muffle the beauty in that.