America's Most Haunted Bars And Restaurants

The following article refers to historical details that refer to violence, suicide, kidnapping, and sexual abuse.

For one month out of the year, bars and restaurants from the West "Ghost" to the East get into the Halloween spirit by dressing up and concocting all manner of eerie eats and spooky cocktails heavy on blood oranges, ghost peppers, and strawberry jelly "blood." For real horror-philes, there are even a few spots that do it year-round, such as New York's Jekyll and Hyde and The Haunted House Restaurant in Cleveland Heights.

However, numerous other establishments across the nation don't need to hang fake spiderwebs and set out plaster skulls as they come with a built-in spooky vibe, thanks to their resident revenants. Many of the restaurants on this list are, as you'd expect, older than dirt — what, after all, is the point of having a colonial-era tavern if you can't count on a few flickering lights, mysterious noises, and unexplained cold spots? Others, however, don't quite fit the stereotype: who'd expect a haunted pizza parlor, Chinese restaurant, or burger joint? And yet, as the famously haunted "Hamlet" once told his pal, the original "final boy," "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy" ...even a chain restaurant ridden with suburban specters.

Baltimore: The Horse You Came In On

Baltimore's Fells Point district has quite a colorful history, as it was once a bustling seaport filled with rowdy sailors and those looking to make a quick buck off them. These days, Fells Point's taverns tend to be more upscale, but the neighborhood does do a nice little side business in ghost tours. The memorably-named The Horse You Came In On is one must-visit stop on any such excursion. It's been in the bar business for nearly 250 years, operating under its current moniker since the 1970s (via YouTube).

In fact, The Horse claims to be the oldest continually-operating establishment of its type in the entire country — no, it did not shut down for Prohibition, but continued doing business in speakeasy mode. As bar manager Robert Napier once told WBALTV, "It has been around a lot of time. It's got a lot of history." Needless to say, the bar boasts the typical glasses shattering, lights turning on and off by themselves, and nervous employees who don't want to find themselves alone (or not so alone...) in the building. There is one particular spirit the bar likes to claim as its own, though: Baltimore's most famous native son, Edgar Allan Poe. It seems the Master of the Macabre may have had his final last call at The Horse (or whatever name it went by in the 19th century) before he tottered off down the street to rendezvous with the grim reaper.

Charleston, South Carolina: Poogan's Porch

While Charleston, South Carolina is another historic city with no shortage of ghosts, the haunted establishment, Poogan's Porch, only dates back to the U.S. Bicentennial. Well, the restaurant, that is — the building itself was constructed in 1891, which still makes it fairly recent as Charleston goes. Poogan, for whom the restaurant was named, was a fluffy white pup who didn't really belong to anyone in particular but liked to hang out on the porch of the house that would eventually be converted into the restaurant. By all accounts, the dog didn't mind too much when his place re-opened as an eatery (perhaps there were some tasty scraps in it for him). He spent a few happy years as a greeter in residence before passing away from what the restaurant reassures us were natural causes.

Poogan's spirit, however, still hangs out on that same porch, seemingly undeterred by the fact that table scraps are likely to pass right through his spectral body. He may have another ghost friend, though, a human one. As Kiawah River tells it, a woman named Zoe St. Amand, daughter of the original homeowners, passed away in 1954, but she, too, is sticking close to home. Visitors to the restaurant have reported her slamming doors, toppling glasses, and calling for the sister who predeceased her. Some have even seen her, and apparently, she seems to be a fairly normal-looking older woman, albeit one who's really into vintage fashion.

Chicago: The Golden Dagger

Once upon a time, in a cold and windy city on the shores of a very deep lake, there stood a little tavern with a dark and creepy past. It was built in the 1890s, complete with an upstairs brothel (the Victorians not being half the prudes they're made out to be). But then along came Prohibition, and the bar...stayed in business anyway. In fact, during that time, it became a favorite hangout of the North Side Gang, the Irish counterpart to Al Capone's Italian South Side mob. As Ghost City Tours tells it, the former group found its numbers diminished after the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, but the slain mobsters soon returned to their old haunt to do a little haunting of their own.

An even more sinister group moved into the tavern's basement in the '30s: the local chapter of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. One woman, anticipating the satanic panic of the '80s by half a century, claimed to have seen the group perform a human sacrifice, the victim of which still lingers on the premises in spectral form (via Ghost City Tours). The tavern has undergone several incarnations since then but today is a music venue, bar, and coffee shop known as the Golden Dagger. Its name pays homage to its shady past, referencing both the Golden Dawn and their ritual sacrificing, while the menu features cocktails with names like Mystic Margarita, Temple of the Moon, and Speakeasy.

Clarendon Hills, Illinois: Country House

While Country House has had several different Illinois locations over the years, the original one (which is the one with the ghost) is in Clarendon Hills. This restaurant opened in 1922 as what was described as a roadhouse, but no, the haunting has nothing to do with any Patrick Swayze-style violence. It seems, in fact, as if the first 50 years of the restaurant were fairly ghost-free, as the hauntings kicked off in 1974 during some remodeling. The spooky story began with shutters opening on their own, which naturally spooked the contractor. A couple of mediums were sent for, who determined that the restaurant was haunted by a young woman who died in the 1950s. Some questioning of the former staff then unearthed the sad tale of a girl who was dating one of the bartenders and died with her baby in a car crash (said to be deliberate), about half a mile from the restaurant.

Even after being identified, this unhappy phantom's been sticking around to bang on walls, move pots and pans, turn on the jukebox after closing hours, and, on occasion, appear to beckon from a window or stand in the bathroom door. (What is it about ghosts and bathrooms, anyway?) The baby's ghost might also be there, as it's been heard to cry. The spirits seem wary of ghost hunters, however, as it's said they won't make an appearance when anyone comes looking.

Cleveland: Sérénité Restaurant

The Sérénité Restaurant not only has a name that evokes peace and harmony, but it also has a very admirable mission — to hire and train people in addiction recovery to find employment in the fine dining industry. In its former existence, however, this Cleveland eatery was anything but serene. It started as a stagecoach stop in 1858 and has been a brothel, inn, grocery store, and steakhouse over the years. Oh, and haunted. Very, very haunted.

Theresa's Haunted History of the Tri-State names three different ghosts known to frequent the premises of the restaurant back when it was operating as the Medina Steakhouse and Saloon. These include a woman named Anna, who died in 1895 while trying to put out a fire, a handyman named Frank Curtis, who hanged himself in a hallway on Christmas Eve, and a mysterious female known only as "M," who may be Anna's sister. While the management and menu may have changed along with the name, it seems that the specters may still linger on. Patrons of Sérénité have seen lights flickering, tables moving, and even ghostly manifestations. Restaurant owner Brandon Chrostowski has told Cleveland Magazine that "The mayor doesn't even come around, because he's afraid of the place," and he, too, acknowledges that "There's something in that damn place ... And, you know, late at night, you feel it."

Deadwood, South Dakota: Fairmont Hotel and Oyster Bay Bar

With a name like Deadwood, you'd expect a few ghosts, and this South Dakota town doesn't disappoint. As per the South Dakota Department of Tourism, it may be the state's spookiest city, and the Fairmont Hotel and Oyster Bay Bar is one of its most haunted locations. While the thought of eating oysters in such a very landlocked state is kind of scary all on its own, for a truly terrifying experience, you'll need to book a 90-minute $20 ghost tour through this famously haunted former saloon and brothel. (Are all old brothels haunted, or are all haunted buildings former brothels? It's starting to seem kind of chicken-and-eggish.)

As to who's haunting the place, Only In Your State names three main ghosts. The only one with a name is Margaret Broadwater, a young woman most likely employed by the brothel who jumped out a window in 1907. The self-defenestration was apparently performed under the influence of alcohol, with the possible motive being that she was said to be pregnant at the time. The other two ghosts are men — one of them, the jealous boyfriend of another brothel employee, shot and killed one of his girlfriend's clients and then accidentally (but fatally) shot himself. There may also be a fourth ghost, a boy whose backstory is unknown, but he may have been born to a brothel worker back in the days when birth control methods tended to be illegal and ineffective.

Duxbury, Massachusetts: The Sun Tavern

The menu at The Sun Tavern is very up-to-the-minute, featuring no-doubt-seen-on-Instagram hipster gourmet fares such as sauteed brussels sprouts with house-smoked bacon, grilled flatbread bruschetta, and grilled watermelon salad. The front part of the building itself, however, dates back to 1741, and The Patriot Ledger reports that two of the tavern's resident ghosts are also from the 18th century. The Williamson sisters, Elizabeth and Mary, are young girls said to have died of scarlet fever and who mostly keep to the top level of the building. However, their voices (or at least one of theirs) have also been heard in the basement.

The main ghost, however, is a man named Lysander Walker, once dubbed the "Last Duxbury Hermit," although he may simply have been an agoraphobe or insufficiently mobile to leave his home. He died on the premises in 1928 by a self-inflicted gunshot — the site to this day has his death certificate on display — and several years later, his home was turned into a restaurant. The stories of Walker haunting the premises seem to date to the 1960s. Over the past half-century, he's been described as a pretty benign ghost (via The Sun Tavern). In fact, on one occasion, he may even have saved a choking diner by administering the Heimlich maneuver. Although mostly, he just sticks to lighting candles, walking through empty rooms, turning off lights, and similar ectoplasmic pranks.

Freeport, Maine: Jameson Tavern

The Jameson Tavern in Freeport, Maine is a place with some historic significance — it was built in 1779 and is said to have been the site where Maine's founders officially seceded from Massachusetts in 1820. You would think, then, that the place would be haunted by a bewigged, pipe-smoking politician, wouldn't you? But no, it seems Jameson's resident ghost is actually a mischievous little girl instead.

An article originally published in the "Community Leader" in 2004 and reprinted on the Jameson Tavern's website reveals that the ghost is named Emily, and she tragically passed away in a fire on the building's top floor (now the attic) at some time early in the 19th century. While it's always incredibly sad to hear of children dying decades before their time, child ghosts often tend to be of the not-so-scary variety, and Emily is no exception. She mostly just flits in and out, although, on at least one occasion, she's been known to play with a young restaurant guest. Occasionally she gets a bit naughty, but the worst she's ever done is toss a jar of toothpicks or drop pots and pans on the ground. For the most part, restaurant patrons and staff don't find Emily frightening but instead see her as quite a friendly little phantom.

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania: Farnsworth House Inn

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania may be one of the United States' most haunted cities, which stands to reason when you consider the fact that the battle fought there during the Civil War was the largest to take place in North America. HistoryNet tells us that over 7,000 soldiers lost their lives on those three days in July 1863, while many thousands more were injured or missing. The Farnsworth House, which today serves as a bed and breakfast as well as a restaurant, offers a menu with an ecumenical mix of Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine and southern specialties like spoonbread and goober pea (peanut) soup. It also has a nice sideline in ghost tours, serving as the starting point for expeditions throughout the extra-spooky neighborhood. Additionally, The Farnsworth House hosts an excursion that stays within its own haunted walls.

During the Battle of Gettysburg, the inn's building served as a base for Confederate troops as well as a makeshift field hospital. It also seems to have been a target of sorts, as the walls contain no less than 135 bullet holes. Civil War Ghosts notes that inside the establishment are said to be 16 different ghosts. A number of these are soldiers, of course — the most active of whom is often heard playing a Jew's harp. There's also an 8-year-old boy called Jeremy, a midwife who sometimes tucks B&B guests into their beds, and a 19th-century cook who doesn't seem to approve of the restaurant's 21st-century staff.

Jerome, Arizona: Haunted Hamburger

While Jerome, Arizona is often described as a "ghost town," this doesn't mean that it's deserted. Instead, the former mining town is now bustling with antique shops, wineries, art galleries, and other accouterments of the upscale tourist trade. Jerome's real draw, however, may be its reputation for being haunted, as the town offers ghost tours covering numerous spooky homes and hotels as well as a phantom-infested hospital and high school. You can even dine in an eerie eatery, that being Jerome's own Haunted Hamburger.

The current owners of Haunted Hamburger learned of the resident spooks when they started renovating an abandoned building once known as Jerome Palace into a restaurant. The ghosts, it seems, have a thing for hammers, so they kept swiping this particular tool, although they've also been known to slam doors, toss cans, and turn on the water. Although there doesn't seem to be much information available about these specters, Map Spirits describes them as a tall woman, a young girl, and a mysterious, shadowy entity. No word as to what's up with the whole hammer time thing, although at this point, perhaps they're sticking around for the food — the menu features Ghostly and Haunted Burgers, a Haunted Chicken sandwich, and drinks called the Hauntarita and Haunted Bloody.

Littleton, Colorado: Melting Pot

If you're having a hard time swallowing the concept of a haunted hamburger joint, you're really going to flip over the idea of a spooky fondue chain. Seriously, though, the Melting Pot location in Littleton, Colorado, actually does seem to be the site of paranormal activity. While the Littleton Melting Pot web page makes no reference to the hauntings (corporate would probably frown upon such a thing), it does note that the building it's located in is historic, so it seems the phantoms long predate the fondue.

As Haunted Colorado explains, Littleton's Melting Pot started out long, long ago as Carnegie Library, and later in its life, it served as a jail. One of the ghosts seems to be that of an inmate killed on the premises, but paranormal investigators SpiritPI, speaking with the Littleton Independent, have debunked that idea. SpiritPl claims that their research shows no inmates, police officers, or restaurant workers have ever died on the premises. They have, however, documented ample evidence (EMF readings and the like) of what appears to be otherworldly activity on the Melting Pot premises and speculate that it may have to do with the presence of the Platte River close by. As they explain it, apparently, ghosts are partial to bodies of water. Who knows, though — maybe they just like fondue, too.

Mesilla, New Mexico: Double Eagle

While the last couple of hauntings we've discussed have been a little light on details, we now turn to a ghost story that is as well fleshed-out as the tale of two ectoplasmic beings can be. Mesilla, New Mexico's Double Eagle, which dates back to 1849, has been painstakingly preserved and restored to retain its antique ambiance. A ghost story, then, was practically de rigueur, so the restaurant owners went digging for one and were rewarded with the tragic tale of star-crossed lovers Armando and Inez.

They say Armando was the son of the Maes family, who first owned the private home that would eventually become the Double Eagle. He fell in love with a servant — Inez — but his mother disapproved of the romance and kicked her out of the house. Inez snuck back to visit her sweetie, but Armando's enraged mamá stabbed her to death with scissors and then accidentally dealt her son a fatal wound as well as he tried to stop the attack. The lovers both died but later returned to haunt the old place, of course — or else there would be no story to tell. They're particularly active in the Carlotta Salon, where they met their end, mostly sticking to standard ghost stuff like breaking glasses, moving tables, and whispering. Oddly enough, they also appear to have some weight to them as they've left a matching pair of ghostly butt-prints in two upholstered chairs.

Milwaukee: Shaker's Cigar Bar

In Milwaukee's Walker's Point neighborhood, a neon ghost in the window of Shaker's Cigar Bar marks the site of one of America's most haunted watering holes. In addition to serving up cigars, drinks, and a full dinner menu, Shaker's is also the starting point for several area ghost tours, three of which take place on the premises. The original expedition takes an hour, while the 2.0 version is 90 minutes and includes an attempt to contact the spirits. The 3.0 version, however, is a three-hour ghost hunt from midnight to 3 a.m. and provides digital voice recorders, infrared thermometers, and EMF detectors.

One of Shaker's most famous revenants is Molly, an 18-year-old girl who worked in the brothel housed on Shaker's top floor (because, of course). Spectrum News 1 reports that she was murdered, dismembered, and set on fire — her charred bones were found inside the wall. Other skeletal remains have been discovered under the concrete in the basement, which is where they remain — they were detected via ground penetrating radar but never unearthed. It's thought that these bones might belong to victims of the Capone brothers, who owned Shaker's back during Prohibition. (As to what Al and company were doing so far off their usual turf, Milwaukee's actually only a 2-hour drive from Chicago.) One other ghost of unknown provenance is an 8-year-old girl, Elizabeth. Her favorite game is terrorizing the bathroom shy by opening stall doors in the women's restroom.

New Orleans: Brennan's

Even in a legendary foodie paradise like New Orleans, Brennan's stands above the rest. This historic restaurant may be best known as the birthplace of Bananas Foster, and it also claims to have created the Bloody Bull, a beef bouillon-spiked Bloody Mary that still features prominently on its brunch menu. What diners may not know, however, is just how haunted the pink palace truly is despite its way-too-pretty-to-be-spooky décor.

While Brennan's restaurant dates back to 1946 (via Brennan's), the building it has occupied since 1956 dates back to the late 18th century, and so does one of its resident ghosts. New Orleans Ghosts says that Monsier LaFleur, who haunts the Morphy Room (formerly the Red Room), killed his wife and son — and later died by suicide — in that location and has been known to manifest in the form of cold spots or even a shadowy specter. 

The other phantoms are quite a bit friendlier, though. Former Brennan's sommelier Herman Funk, now deceased (more or less), haunts the wine cellar and helps out servers by pointing out bottles that patrons might enjoy. One-time star chef Paul Blangé prefers to hang out in the kitchen or dining room and seems particularly pleased whenever anyone orders his signature dessert, Bananas Foster.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

New York City: White Horse Tavern

The White Horse Tavern in Manhattan's West Village has been in business since the 1880s and originally attracted a blue-collar clientele (longshoremen, back in the day). In the 1950s, however, it got trendy with the artsy crowd and is now best known for attracting a who's who of 20th-century celebs, including Jack Kerouac, Bob Dylan, and Jim Morrison. However, its most famous former patron is Dylan Thomas, the Welsh poet who took his last drink there before staggering off to die (much as Edgar Allan Poe did at the aforementioned The Horse You Rode In On).

Off the Grid notes that even death didn't mean that Thomas was ready for last call. It seems he keeps returning to his favorite watering hole to wet his ectoplasmic whistle. The poet does seem to get around a bit, though. Gothamist notes that he's also been known to manifest at the Chelsea Hotel, where he resided when not popping up at the White Horse. The latter, however, is likely to be a favorite "haunt" of his, as the National Paranormal Association reports that a favorite table where he once liked to write is typically found moved out of alignment and into his preferred position every morning. Well, what more would you expect from a poet who rallied against going gentle into that good night? Perhaps this table-turning is his way of raging — raging against the dying of the light.

Newport, Rhode Island: The White Horse Tavern

How to create a haunted restaurant: The most important steps involve starting a restaurant, dying there, and returning to visit from beyond the grave. However, it might help to also name the place "The White Horse Tavern." Yes, there are not one, but two such establishments on this list, both very haunted. Rather than a deceased 20th-century poet, however, the 17th-century White Horse in Newport, Rhode Island boasts the ghosts of a former patron and possibly a one-time proprietor.

The White Horse Tavern was built as a home in 1652 and converted into a tavern in 1673. While it was once owned by an early 18th-century pirate (true story!), he isn't thought to be haunting the place. Instead, one of the ghosts may be that of a man who mysteriously died after overnighting there. says he appears in the dining room and upstairs men's bathroom and has been known to bother female guests (presumably not in the latter location). Another, less-visible spirit is one that the New England Folklore blog thinks might be a former owner since they seem to take quite an interest in the inn's day-to-day operations. There's also one more female entity, perhaps that of a girl who worked at the hotel at the same time the first ghost met his end. She, herself, caught smallpox (although not from him) and died while in quarantine.

Portland, Oregon: Old Town

After hearing the stories of a burger place that goes boo and a chain restaurant serving up ghosts along with its cheese fondue, a haunted pizza parlor doesn't seem like a stretch. Portland's Old Town has a backstory that sounds pretty familiar. It occupies an old building — in this case, Portland's former Merchant Hotel — and that structure (as you might have guessed) had a sort of brothel operation. While you'd think this was the kind of life that anyone would be glad to escape from, even if only by death, apparently, some unhappy former sex workers feel compelled to stick around and share their stories. This seems to be the case with the pizzeria's spook-in-residence.

According to Old Town, the ghost here — who has her own #MeToo story — is named Nina, a girl kidnapped and sold into the oldest profession. (Yet another "fun" fact about Old Town is that underneath it are a series of tunnels where early 20th century sailors were Shanghaied into unwilling service.) Nina was going to blow the whistle on the sex trade to some visiting missionaries, but she ended up at the bottom of an elevator shaft for her trouble. 

Today, she mostly flits around wearing a black dress and smelling all perfume-y, which must make an interesting contrast with tomato sauce and garlic. She doesn't seem too upset now, though, so perhaps she's spent all these years just waiting for someone to offer her a slice.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

San Francisco: John's Grill

Old writers never die. Apparently, they just change genres and turn themselves into...ghost stories? Well, except for Edgar Allan Poe, since he was already working in that area. Dashiell Hammett, however, may have specialized in stories of murder and mayhem, but his tales didn't typically involve a paranormal element. Still, one story about the writer that's told at his favorite restaurant, John's Grill, is of the spooky sort. As a server once told the San Francisco Chronicle (via SFist), Sam Spade's creator has been known to show up in the third-floor dining room at 11 a.m., just in time for an early lunch seating.

So what would Hammett's ghost order if he could consume food? In "The Maltese Falcon," Sam Spade visits the restaurant and dines on chops, a baked potato, and sliced tomatoes. The shout-out not only granted John's Grill its status as a designated Literary Landmark, but the meal's been enshrined on the restaurant's menu as Sam Spade's Lamb Chops. Is this what draws Hammett's hungry specter back, or is he instead there to protest the fact that he only gets a menu mention under the name of his favorite character — while exercise guru, Jack LaLanne, has a seafood salad with his own moniker? Too bad LaLanne's ghost is a no-show as far as we know, since it would be fun to see them square off in a battle of the tough dead guys.

St. Louis: The Lemp Mansion Restaurant & Inn

The Lemp Mansion Restaurant & Inn has long been known as a hotbed of paranormal activity. In 1980, Life magazine declared it to be one of the most haunted spots in the country (via Ozy), and it's been featured in more ghost-hunting shows and Halloween news features than you can shake a divining rod at. So what makes the mansion so spooky? For once, there's no brothel or drunken authors involved. Instead, the Lemp Mansion's story is one of unrelenting tragedy, generation after generation.

If ever there was a family that was well and truly cursed (besides the Kennedys), it was the Lemps — St. Louis beer barons who were millionaires by the middle of the 19th century. Starting right around the turn of the following century, things really headed south. Not only did the family lose their fortune, but several of them also took their own lives. (There is also a sad story of a boy with Down syndrome forced to live out his life locked in an attic.) After the last Lemp died in 1949, the place was turned into a boarding house. Naturally, no one wanted to live in a home with mysterious cold spots, objects randomly flying through the air, voices in empty rooms, and the odd apparition or two. However, after all that death and haunting, the Lemp Mansion eventually found new life as St. Louis' spookiest tourist attraction, offering weekly ghost tours and an annual Halloween blowout.

Washington, D.C.: Wok and Roll

One of the least likely pairings between ghost and venue is that of the Chinese-Japanese restaurant and karaoke bar known as Wok and Roll. However, we doubt the specter is a big fan of sushi since, at the time she was alive, raw fish was something you'd only consume under the most desperate of circumstances (probably a good idea in those pre-refrigeration days). Nor, by all accounts, does the ghost sing karaoke, although Scary DC says she's been known to mutter, whisper, and cry. She's got plenty to moan about, too, as she's well-known to history (but not in a good way).

So what famous phantom stalks Wok and Roll? The ghost is that of notorious Civil War villainess Mary Surratt. According to Ghosts of DC, back in the 1860s, this building — which now stands in DC's Chinatown — was a boarding house owned by the Confederate-sympathizing Surratt. Here, she and co-conspirators such as John Wilkes Booth met secretly to plot the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Post-assassination, Surratt earned the distinction of being the first woman to receive a federal death sentence. Today her boarding house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (via Library of Congress), so its exterior is something she'd still recognize. However, as to the interior...well, DC Ghosts says she's still wandering around the second floor, but she's likely rather bemused by what's happening beneath her incorporeal feet.