“You’re lightweights!” chef Lisa Dahl says with a laugh and a wink. This, after her guests have tried just a handful of menu highlights from Butterfly Burger, located on an unassuming corner of a shopping center in the Village of Oak Creek — and across from Dahl’s newest venture, the second location of Pisa Lisa.
When Dahl launched Butterfly Burger in September 2019, she was fresh off winning consecutive Scottsdale Burger Battle championships. Within months, though, the restaurant had to survive the COVID-19 pandemic by offering only takeout. Now, the dining room is packed with locals and tourists eager to taste Dahl’s inspired, creative, romantic menu.
Romantic? A burger joint?
As she’s done with her other restaurants — Dahl & Di Luca, Cucina Rustica and Mariposa — the chef has created a dark, beautifully lit space that’s well tailored for a long lunch or a date night, which comes as no surprise after the publication of her most recent cookbook, A Romance With Food. Also no surprise: Butterfly Burger’s is a menu that’s unabashed, thoughtful and lovely.
Having moved to Sedona after the death of her son, Justin, in 1994, Dahl, then a heavy hitter in the fashion industry, decided to carry on with her dream of opening a restaurant with her son. Often, she saw butterflies as she went through the machinations of living after loss, and she says she was moved by Sedona’s spirituality and its abiding healing properties. Butterflies have the same. “Many people relate to butterflies as a sign of hope,” she says. “Butterflies are transformation. When you see one, your heart is lifted.”
Decades after Dahl made her first culinary mark on Sedona, on this late-summer afternoon, rain bounces off the postcard red rocks and clouds hang low and lazy over the landscape. Inside Butterfly Burger, though, the energy is like lightning. Dahl and her crew move around the grills expertly, plating the Oui Oui Monsieur (a patty melt made with fresh Creekstone Farms beef, melted Gruyère cheese and charred onions on buttery, toasted rye bread) and the Gringo Burger (featuring aged cheddar, Louisiana-style remoulade, shredded romaine and Dijonnaise) with passion and precision.
But that’s not to say the menu would be unappealing to the beef-averse. The Primo Portobello “can spellbind even a mushroom hater,” Dahl says. It features a marinated and grilled portobello mushroom, caramelized onions, manchego cheese, chipotle aioli and shredded romaine lettuce, all piled on a whole-grain bun. The Mowee Bites (lettuce tacos) are loaded with grilled mahi-mahi, topped with wasabi-ginger sauce and mango, and served in butter lettuce cups for an appetizer that’s light, vibrant and easily ordered in pairs to make a meal. Salads and soups round out the menu, along with outrageously crispy fries and tater tots.
The milkshakes are, in a word, elevated. Organic blueberries and local lavender are featured in the Lavender Love. With a splash of Empire gin, it becomes a boozy, creamy smoothie.
Despite its delicate name, Butterfly Burger is a heavyweight in the Sedona dining scene.
6657 State Route 179
Village of Oak Creek, AZ