Food & Drink

13 of the creepiest haunted bars and restaurants in America

Published On 10/30/2014 Published On 10/30/2014

We've all outstayed our welcomes at bars and restaurants from time to time, but some places have pesky customers who have been there for ages. Literally. At these 13 creepy joints, the spirits extend well beyond a nice whiskey list. They include murdered cowboys, slain prostitutes, victims of serial killers, and even the dude who shot Alexander Hamilton. Here are rap sheets for some of America's greatest places to drink with the dead.

Flickr/Scott from TX

Poogan's Porch

Charleston, SC
Although it would be adorable, Poogan's Porch isn't actually haunted by a canine poltergeist. The restaurant's namesake went to the light long ago, but the same cannot be said for Zoe St. Amand, a spinster schoolteacher who died in the building in the 1950s. Zoe is apparently a fan of rotating place settings around the tables and forging food orders, as well as hurling bar stools at the staff and busting open doors when she's pissed off. If only Poogan were there to calm her down.
 

Old Town Pizza

Old Town Pizza

Portland, OR
Owner Adam Milne is ostensibly the man in charge of this pizza joint, but it's Nina who really runs the show. The ghost has been hanging around the place for a century, and it is not for sentimental reasons. Nina was a sex slave who entertained clients at the Merchant Hotel, where Old Town Pizza now stands atop the city's infamous Shanghai Tunnels. Missionaries came to town and promised to rescue her if she gave up the pimps, which she readily did. Only those guys weren't too pleased about it, and decided to throw her down the elevator shaft as punishment. She supposedly scratched her name into a brick on that elevator shaft, which is now part of a booth, and today frequently appears to watch the patrons eat. If you smell any faint perfume or spot a ghostly chick in a black dress, you've just met Nina.

Muriel's Jackson Square

Muriel's

New Orleans, LA
In a city like NOLA, haunted buildings are a dime-a-dozen. And while Muriel's doesn't boast the most horrific backstory, it's seen some dark deeds. In the late 1700s, Pierre Antoine Lepardi Jourdan bought the burned-out mansion and restored it to its old charms. Then, in a classic future-ghost move, he bet the entire house in a poker game, which he lost. Because he couldn't bear to leave the place, he killed himself on the second floor, right around where the Seance Lounges stand today. Jourdan spends most of his time there -- he pops up as a shimmery light rather than a complete ghostly form, but he still knocks on the brick wall with the gusto of a full-fledged apparition. And he's got company. Paranormal investigators picked up the voice of a woman in the Seance Lounges, and there's definitely another poltergeist in the Courtyard Bar who's big on smashing glasses. Once they all complete their nightly shenanigans, they presumably enjoy a nice dinner at Jourdan's reserved table, which the staff sets with bread and wine each night.

Flickr/Brandie Heinel

Tonic Room

Chicago, IL
Plenty of patrons could tell you about the weird mists that show up in selfies they snapped, or the ghostly gangster they swear they saw at the bar, but nothing will scare you more than the Tonic Room's actual history. Members of the Irish North Side Gang frequented the bar in the 1920s before clearing out to make way for the American chapter of Golden Dawn. For those unaware, Golden Dawn is not a forgotten easy-listening jam: it's a secret society that's big on ancient Egyptian symbols and also human sacrifice. In fact, a girl who went with her father to one of these Golden Dawn meetings in the '30s swears she witnessed a ritual killing in the Tonic Room basement. After the murder cult left, a dude named Frederic De’Arechaga turned the space into an occult store in the '60s. He claimed to be a male witch, because of course he did.

One if by Land, Two if by Sea

One if by Land, Two if by Sea

New York, NY
Many places brag about having ghostly hookers or conmen, but only this NYC spot boasts the spirit of noted Alexander Hamilton-murderer Aaron Burr. The restaurant actually used to be his carriage house back in the day, and everyone thinks he's stuck around with his daughter, Theodosia, to haunt the living. They routinely knock things over, creep down the stairs, and generally pester the patrons -- though they may have additional partners in crime. A parapsychologist who's visited the place claims there are really 20 ghosts there, all from different time periods, including a Ziegfeld Follies girl who might just high-kick you in the back.

Stone's Public House

Stone's Public House

Ashland, MA
Stone's Public House takes its name from original owner John Stone, who was a very bad man according to one paranormal expert. After speaking with the six to seven spirits who allegedly live at the bar, ghost whisperer Ralph Bibbo claimed they told him Stone killed a boarder who won big in a card game in 1845. He then forced the few witnesses to help him bury the guy in the basement, and made them all promise to take the secret to their graves. But they must have felt guilty, because they never went to their graves. Instead, they float around the bar, making occasional ruckuses and silently judging your drink order.

Instagram/staceylcorbitt

Scarlett O'Hara's 

St. Augustine, FL
Deceptively, this place isn't full of Southern belles who need to get over Ashley Wilkes already, but it does involve an 1800s love triangle. The legend goes that George Colee constructed the original building for his fiancee... who ran off with a soldier before he could even finish the place. A few weeks later, Colee was found drowned in the bathtub upstairs. That floor now hosts the "Ghost Bar", where Colee supposedly kicks it. He routinely messes with dudes in the bathroom, and still splashes around at night even though the bathtub is gone. But the staff thinks there's at least one more ghost: he's caused enough problems for the downstairs bar that they wound ropes in front of the liquor shelf, just so bottles would stop crashing for no reason.

Restaurant 1833

Restaurant 1833

Monterey, CA
Previously named Stokes Bar and Restaurant, the historic spot was rechristened to reflect the year it was built. But it still bears the unmistakable mark of Mr. Stokes. James Stokes was an English sailor who decided to trick the town of Monterey into thinking he was a doctor. Despite the fact that he killed most of his patients, people loved this guy -- the governor at the time, Jose Figueroa, even appointed him his personal physician (he died a year later). Stokes was flying high, but then his sons apparently caught him doing very inappropriate things to his daughter, and he promptly committed suicide. He now haunts his former home, along with a later tenant, Hattie Gragg. Together, they throw salt in wine glasses, slam doors, and even whisper, "Excuse me, can you help me?" Stop by for the sea bass only if you dare.

Instagram/shufflin41

Shaker's Cigar Bar

Milwaukee, WI
At Shaker's, the most famous ghosts are two girls from very different backgrounds. Elizabeth is an 8-year-old who fell from an apple tree on the grounds in the 1800s, and now spends her days giggling in the ladies bathroom or poking her tiny feet out from under the stalls. Meanwhile, Molly Brennan was a teenage hooker in the 1920s who got murdered in the third-floor penthouse for knowing a little too much. People who've stayed in her room hallucinate burning walls and water gushing from the ceiling -- which is significantly scarier than the stuff you normally hallucinate after a few cocktails. But really, you should stay out of the cellar. That's where the "Shadow People" roam, and we're guessing you'd rather not collide with a creepy, fully-formed black body.

White Horse Tavern

White Horse Tavern

Newport, RI
Let us begin this tale like basically every ghost story you told at sleepaway camp: with a pair of drifters. Two men showed up at the tavern in the 1720s looking for a room for the night. The next day, the owners found one dead by the fireplace and the other completely vanished. A specter now chills by the fireplace, daring people to solve his freak death. There have also been encounters with a colonial-looking dude in the upstairs bathroom, and mysterious footsteps all over the place. Coincidentally, there's another White Horse Tavern in New York City with high ghost-hunter interest. It's where poet Dylan Thomas drank himself to death, and he still hasn't learned his lesson, as he occasionally pops up at his regular table.

Instagram/cgiprguy

Casey Moore's Oyster House

Tempe, AZ
Like any haunted house worth its salt, Casey Moore's has several different stories on the poltergeists that spook the grounds. One account goes that a coed named Sarah, who was strangled by her crazy boyfriend on-site, sulks around the dining room tables. Another says the spirit of a little boy, whose photograph was unearthed years ago amid renovations -- prowls the halls. Either way -- you might actually have to believe your buddy when he insists half your shrimp cocktail "just disappeared" when you went to the bathroom.

The Fenton Hotel

The Fenton Hotel Tavern and Grille

Fenton, MI
The permanent guests at this 158-year-old mid-Michigan spot are more Casper than Delbert Grady... if Casper was a barfly who loved Jack and died before sexual harassment was a thing. The hotel section -- which wasn't renovated along with the basement -- is still home to Emery, the place's old custodian, who can still be heard clomping around above the dining room. Then there's the gentleman at table 32, who constantly tries to piggyback on customers' orders when unordered Jack & Cokes show up on a regular basis. Servers have reported getting goosed after hours. Glasses have shattered when nobody is around, and some people have reported seeing full specters in the place. Luckily, they're thirsty for booze, not souls. 
 

Instagram/ann_charles

Seth's Cellar & Bully's at Bullock Hotel

Deadwood, SD
Technically, this tale concerns a hotel, but seeing as specters roam both the Bullock Hotel's bar and restaurant -- and we're talking about ghost cowboys here -- we're definitely counting it. The Bullock Hotel is famously haunted by Seth Bullock, best known as Deadwood's first sheriff, Teddy Roosevelt's BFF, and that guy Timothy Olyphant played on HBO. He's supposedly most agitated when he sees the staff slacking on the job, and is liable to turn on blenders or shout people's names to scare them into shape. If a hard-ass cowboy doesn't freak you out, don't worry -- there're also three horrifying "ghost children" to ensure your stay is traumatizing.

Kristin Hunt is a Food/Drink staff writer for Thrillist. She's never seen a ghost, but she's pretty sure her Irish grandfather's spirit shoves her every time she improperly prepares tea. Follow her at @kristin_hunt.

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