Dine among the spirits at these 7 haunted San Antonio bars and restaurants
For all its frenzied new construction, San Antonio is not a city that easily gives up the ghost. Though spiky towers and twisted sculptures have injected a little modernity into the landscape, this is still a city defined by its history — the hallowed grounds of the Alamo, the stone shops at La Villita, and the Gothic arches of San Fernando Cathedral. Those looking to commune with the afterlife don't have to travel far to go bump in the night.
A pantheon of lost souls is said to frequent downtown's many bars and restaurants, adding some shivers to burgers and shakes. And we can't think of a better time to visit them than in October. Join us on a culinary ghost-hunting tour, but remember to give that extra 20 percent. Apparitions add an enduring atmosphere but are seldom known to be good tippers.
Bar 414 at the Gunter Hotel
Blues legend Robert Johnson, who purportedly sold his soul to the devil, had his first recording session here. One of San Antonio's most brutal murders happened in room 636. The Overlook Hotel certainly has no bragging rights over the Gunter. Still, the bar seems to attract more whimsy than wickedness. Ingrid and Peggy, two phantasmal flappers, still shimmy down the halls. Years later, they still can't seem to find common ground. Guests have reported more than a few heated arguments.
Colonial Room at the Menger Hotel
Of all the design styles, surely Victorian design is the most spine-tingling. Behind all the Wedgewood blues and dusty mauves are more than a few dark shadows. The Menger reportedly has more than 45 of them, ranging from presidential poltergeist Teddy Roosevelt to sweet chambermaid Sallie White. True to 19th-century dining standards, the Colonial Room offers a sumptuous brunch, a cold comfort should one run into an Alamo soldier.
If horror movies taught the public anything, never go down to the basement. The Esquire hardly keeps the creepy crawlies at bay by guarding the descent with a snarling taxidermy javelina. The temperature seems to drop once guests make it to the lowest step. Is it the subterranean surrounds or something more ghoulish at play? Either explanation calls for a stiff drink.
The downtown location of this pizza joint is housed in two '20s-era buildings, making it a relative whippersnapper of the San Antonio scene. But the bungalows have had a hundred years to build up spectral activity. Among the occurrences listed on Guillermo's ghost spotting page are a sitting white shadow and disembodied children's laughter. It's spooky stuff, for sure, but the haunting pales compared to the Austin Street location. The newcomer is soon temporarily closing due to the city's most malevolent specter — construction.
Haunt at St. Anthony Hotel
OK, the bar's name is a bit on the nose, but only San Antonio's most strident cynics don't believe something supernatural is happening at St. Anthony. According to lore, the infamous Lady in Red still clacks her heels on the marble long after rigor mortis. The more studious Lavender Lady, named for the scent, not the color, is less interested in drama but is fond of peeking at guest's vacation reads.
Oro Restaurant and Bar at the Emily Morgan Hotel
Know-it-alls might say they had it coming. Building across from the Alamo was sure to attract a few errant ghosts, much more so when it was built as a hospital for wounded soldiers. Though the property had a morgue, its most famous nocturnal visitor attached herself to the grounds because of a sense of duty. A vanishing nurse is said to periodically offer otherworldly care, although nowadays, the shots come from behind the bar.
Spirits have come and gone since Schilo's first debuted in 1917. Though Prohibition forced a pivot from lagers to root beer, the German-Texas eatery persevered well past Repeal Day, when bar shelves were restocked with liquor. The buzzy new atmosphere might help explain the frequent paranormal encounters, ranging from eerie tapping noises to hovering prep equipment. Luckily, the daytime-only restaurant never reveals what happens at night.