Northern Arizona’s Mountain Living Magazine, February 2020
Written by Gail G. Collins
The humble burger appeal lies in its affordability, portability and customizable form. But who created the hefty handhold? Some believe a meatball stand owner flattened his product and served it between bread slices, while others think the concept is owed to a hotdog substitution in Hamburg, New York. Still, Texans believe it evolved from a breakfast patty with glazed onions sandwiched between French toast. Regardless, these ideas helped build a $129-billion industry and the best burger.
Lisa Dahl’s posh Butterfly Burger in Sedona is the latest comer to a hungry market. A sleek, marble bar with amber lighting and rose-gold mirror present a lux lounge billing more than 40 bourbons and spirits, accessible via the rolling library ladder. Exotic faux alligator booths add classy contrast to rough-hewn planks of mushroom wood, cobblestones and bold, butterfly imagery.
Of the couture lounge, Dahl said, “The popularity of a burger made well and elevated experience isn’t for the masses—it’s indulgent and sublime with a top shelf cocktail and jazz setting the stage for a sultry experience.”
Dahl is a successful stalwart of the Red Rock culinary scene. Her 20-year career began with Dahl & DiLuca Ristorante Italiano—still drawing national attention—adding Cucina Rustica, Pisa Lisa, Mariposa Latin Inspired Grill, and in September, Butterfly Burger, becoming the area’s largest restaurant group. The James Beard House featured chef is self-taught, claiming Top Chef in Arizona at the 2018 Foodist Awards. Recently named in the Best Chefs of America Hall of Fame Award by National Elite, Dahl gathered wide attention grilling against Bobby Flay on the Food Network and appearing on Travel Channel’s Food Paradise.
Hailing from the Midwest, where the family vied to barbecue the best burger on a Sunday, Dahl still tests her skills. She entered the Scottsdale Burger Battle with a Latin version of the American model to win the People’s Choice award in 2016, and in 2017, she earned 2nd Runner Up.
When it comes to the title of Burger Master, Dahl said, “I take it about as seriously as a heart attack.” In 2018, she netted the Judges’ Choice with a funky, mushroom-rich entry. The logistics and prep of the contest are difficult, and she was thrilled to, “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee” in her wins.
Dahl believes flavorful, well-made burgers are worthwhile. This is evident in 8-ounce patties served medium rare, though marinating and further prep delivers moistness even when well done. The burgers are cooked over wood, an active challenge that sears a patty perfectly. A higher consciousness for meat in feed and humane treatment also matter to Dahl.
Butterfly’s menu boasts a dozen signature burgers with whimsical titles. The art is in the layering of ingredients. The Butterfly Burger begs a bite with Manchego, all-natural pepper bacon, guacamole and chipotle aioli on an artisan bun. The Oui Oui Monsieur is a patty melt, smothered in charred onions, Gruyere and Dijonnaise sauce on grilled caraway rye, served with a side of onion jus.
Dahl’s burger award wins also compete for attention: Funghi Sublime, smothered in sautéed mushrooms and finished with imported truffle Gouda and Dijonnaise; Gringo with white aged cheddar, Louis remoulade, shredded romaine lettuce and crispy onion strings; and Waco Kid featuring 4 Roses Bourbon with maple, caramelized onion and bacon confit with Dijon sauce, all on artisan buns.
It’s hard to believe Dahl was nearly banished from the family as a teen when she became a vegetarian, but it inspired a grain patty still headlining her meatless menu. The Hipster dresses lentil-walnut sofrito with oven-roasted Campari tomato jam and pimento aioli on a whole grain bun.Royal Beet Burgergrills organic beet steak with house teriyaki and roasted garlic-herb chevre with organic arugula.
Fries are the top side order and Street Frites plays up yucca strips smothered with queso fundido, pico de gallo and cotija cheese. Others include Supreme Mac ‘n Cheese, Quinoa Confetti Salad and Three-Seed Cilantro Slaw. Stylish salads, like the Green Goddess Cobb and Atun Parfait, may tempt healthy eaters to stay green.
Still, ice cream is a dream alongside a burger, and Dahl’s milkshakes, in standard or boozy fashion, like Luscious Lemon with limoncello sorbet, vanilla bean gelato and cookie crumble, are a slurp from heaven.
The wares at Butterfly Burger are classic, but creativity transforms them, as the name implies.
“With a good story and quality, burgers are crowd pleasers,” said Dahl. NAMLM