11 Haunted Watering Holes
Some believe that the veil between the living and the dead becomes thinner at Halloween. So, if you dare, what better time to visit a haunted restaurant or hotel? Wine Enthusiast surveyed bars and restaurants throughout the United States to find the spookiest sites to eat, drink and get scary.
George Martin’s Strip Steak, Great River, NY
Located in a historic building near the old Vanderbilt Estate, George Martin’s Strip Steak has a long, colorful history. It’s said to have been a speakeasy and brothel in the 1920s.
“Alongside the celebrations, drinking and dancing, there were also accounts of theft, murder and debauchery,” says Kristina Tohn, the restaurant’s general manager. “This property is known to be haunted by a family of four: a man, wife, daughter and son.”
Tohn says that the legend is that the parents were murdered in the basement, and the children fled to the river to escape, but drowned.
“The family never left after this horrible event happened,” says Tohn. “The father was so full of resentment, he made them stay there, as spirits.”
Servers have claimed to see the boy, and the restaurant has even hired energy workers to try and cleanse the space of its ghostly inhabitants.
LON’s, The Hermosa Inn, Scottsdale, AZ
The boutique Southwestern-styled inn is situated within the former home and studio of cowboy artist Alonzo “Lon” Megargee, who built the property in 1930s. Megargee lived and worked there until he passed away in 1960. Some believe he never truly left the grounds.
Employees and visitors report dozens of sightings and ghostly encounters, including candlesticks mysteriously moving out of their holders, bottles flying off the shelves and doors closing on their own.
“The spirits of LON’s at the Hermosa are quite active, but always friendly,” says David Jette, the director of food and beverage. “Guests that have had experiences of their own are always in awe, and while they might get the chills, are never scared. It’s always been something that makes for a special dining experience, and a fun story to tell later.”
Looking to come home with a tale of your own? Book a stay this month and get a guided ghost tour of the property, complete with two zombie cocktails upon arrival (rates start at $296 per night).
May Baily’s Place, Dauphine Orleans Hotel, New Orleans
The site of a notorious brothel dating back to the late 1850s, May Baily’s Place “is where the ghost of the lost bride of the Dauphine Orleans often hangs out,” says Marc Becker, the area director of marketing for the New Orleans Hotel Collection. “She is Millie Baily, May’s younger sister, and she worked in the brothel with May.
“There is also a courtesan bartendress who haunts the bar, and the longtime history and tradition has it that she frequently moves the bottles around to her own liking,” Becker says. “As for who first saw the ghost, that is lost to time, but it has been seen there for more than 40 years.”
Hotel Monteleone, New Orleans
The Hotel Monteleone’s rotating Carousel Bar is famous for its classic cocktails and lively clientele, but it’s said to host other spirited guests, too. With the property dating back to 1886, it’s rumored to have at least five ghosts haunting the premises.
In March 2003, the International Society of Paranormal Research launched an on-site investigation documenting evidence of these otherworldly patrons. They include “Red,” a former hotel engineer; “Solemn John,” a well-dressed businessman from Tennessee who committed suicide during the Great Depression; and a 10-year-old boy named Maurice, who’s been spotted playing hide-and-seek with another young spirit inside the hotel.
“Generations of hotel guests and staff have experienced haunted events at the Hotel Monteleone,” said Kent Wasmuth, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing. “With everything going on at the hotel past and present, it makes sense that a few friendly spirits would decide to add their own page to the Hotel Monteleone’s history by calling it home.”
Newburg Inn, Nazareth, PA
Established in the 1750s, The Newburg Inn—known for its hearty Italian dishes and thick cuts of prime rib—has a well-documented haunted history. The tavern even made an appearance on the TV show Ghost Finders. Servers and patrons have reported strange noises, like children playing, even when the restaurant was empty, seeing ghostly apparitions, or being tapped on the shoulder by an invisible force.
“In high school, I worked at The Newburg Inn,” says former employee and Wine Enthusiast contributor Kelly Magyarics. “The restaurant was like a house, and old bedrooms upstairs were used for storage. Every time I went up to the second floor to get buckets of ice from the ice machine, I always had the feeling of someone standing behind me, or lightly brushing up next to me. I would race down as quickly as I could.”
Old Town Pizza, Portland, OR
Calling itself “Portland’s favorite haunt,” Old Town Pizza is as well known for its resident ghost as its crispy, thin-crust pizzas and local brews.
“Old Town Pizza is one of Portland’s most haunted places, and has been featured on the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures TV show,” says Tyler Craven, owner and head tour guide of BeerQuest Walking Tours in Portland. He includes Old Town Pizza on his Haunted Pub Tour.
“The ghost is known as Nina, a prostitute who was killed in the building in the early 1900s when it was The Merchant Hotel,” Craven says. “Nina’s presence can be felt in the elevator shaft where she was killed, and there are reports of pictures falling off the walls, objects flying off tables, faucets turning on and off, and unexplained footsteps on the 1800s-era wooden floorboards.”
Herringbone, La Jolla, CA
Executive chef Brian Malarkey’s chic La Jolla restaurant is said to be haunted by the property’s former owner, C. Arnholt Smith, a prominent banker, developer and past owner of the San Diego Padres (friends called him “Mr. San Diego”).
Smith, 97, passed away in 1996. his ex-wife, Maria Helen Alvarez Smith, believed his spirit still occupied the property and kept it vacant. Following her death in 2010, development began on the long-empty space, as did sightings of Smith.
During the revitalization of the warehouse space, contractors sensed a ghostly presence and saw unexplained shadows in the restaurant.
“Diners shouldn’t worry, though,” Malarkey says. “Smith is a friendly ghost. In fact, he likes to party! He is good-natured, and when there’s an empty stool at the bar, the bartenders leave a drink in front of it.”
Gadsby’s Tavern, Alexandria, VA
With roots stretching back to 1785, Gadsby’s is an important site in Virginia’s colonial history, counting George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams among its famous guests. Functioning as both bar and inn, the tavern was famous for providing hospitality. A few overnight guests are said to have never checked out.
Visitors often reported seeing the apparition of a beautiful young woman. According to popular accounts, a guest once followed the ghost into a deserted bedroom upstairs, where he found a hurricane lamp glowing. After summoning the manager, the two men discovered that the glowing lamp contained a wick that appeared as if it had never been lighted.
“Gadsby’s Tavern is the site of Alexandria’s most famous ghost story: the tale of the female stranger,” says Wellington Watts, owner of Alexandria Colonial Tours, which includes the tavern on its Ghost and Graveyard Tour. “In September of 1816, a young couple arrived by boat from the Caribbean. The wife was very ill and the husband brought her up from the docks by carriage to Gadsby’s Tavern. Doctors and nurses were summoned immediately, but they could do little to save her.
“The husband talked to his dying wife, and the doctors, nurses and staff were called to her bedside,” Watts says. “They were all asked to swear an oath, promising to never reveal the identity of either the man or woman. Three days later, she died and was buried in Old Town. Her tombstone is still marked ‘To the Memory of the Female Stranger.’ To this day, no one knows who she was, but she still haunts the tavern.”
Inn and Spa at Loretto, Santa Fe, NM
The beautiful 136-room inn is situated on a historic—and purportedly haunted—site, a former Catholic girls’ school run by the Order of the Sisters of Loretto, which traces its history to 1853.
Destroyed by fire in the late 1960s, nothing remains of the school, except perhaps for Sister George, a nun who died in 1976. Her spirit is said to have returned to the site.
While it is unclear if the nun smoked cigars during her lifetime, the unmistakable scent of cigar smoke wafts from an empty restaurant. Phone calls would also originate from the fourth floor, even while it was closed for renovations.
In honor of their friendly ghost, the inn serves a signature cocktail in the Living Room Lounge, the Smoking Nun.
White Eagle Café and Rock ’n’ Roll Hotel, Portland, OR
Located beneath the Fremont Bridge in an industrial stretch of North Portland, this bar and 11-room hotel is not for the faint of heart.
Opened in 1905, the building’s sordid history includes Shanghai tunnels, illicit poker games and tales of resident spirits, not to mention live music in the downstairs bar by acts like ZZ Top and the Isley Brothers, all of which have been known to keep guests up at night.
Supernatural sightings are so common at the White Eagle that the staff keeps a “ghost log” of encounters.
“A regular at the hotel who stays in Room 2 said his wife saw a lady flying around the room with a candelabra in her hand,” says Renee Rank Ignacio, director of marketing for parent company McMenamins, citing the log.
In another entry, a housekeeper says, “I was doing housekeeping, and I was standing at the foot of the bed when suddenly I felt something firmly grab my ankle and not let go until I jumped away. I looked under the bed and there was nothing. Freaked me out a little.”
High Noon Restaurant & Saloon, Albuquerque, NM
Found in the heart of Albuquerque’s Old Town district, High Noon is a must for any ghost hunter. Constructed in 1785, the building has been both a casino and brothel, and it’s a popular stop on the lantern-lit Ghost Tour of Old Town. A female spirit wearing an old-fashioned white formal gown has frequently been spotted there.
“Reminders of the building’s past lives are present in the spirits who still make it their home,” says Carla Villa, High Noon’s managing partner. “Customers and employees alike have many stories about their supernatural encounters, like the lady in the white dress who haunts the Santos Room.”
Other spooky events have included the scent of burning wood when the fireplace wasn’t lighted, employees’ names being called by an unseen entity and even tapping on customers’ feet in the dining room.