If you love a good ghost story, you’ve come to the right place. Santa Fe is filled with spirits rumored to roam the streets and historic buildings, including those housing some revered restaurants. From La Llorona, the weeping woman in white who eternally searches for her lost children, to the headless horseman who rides, sword in hand, along Alto Street to the river, the ghosts who haunt Santa Fe are legendary. Here are a few haunts to check out during dinner this Halloween season, when the veil between the worlds grows thin and our interest in these spectral spirits peaks.
The Smoking Nun
Dine at The Inn and Spa at Loretto’s Luminaria and you may come across a smoking nun. That would be Sister George, who belonged to the Order Of The Sisters Of Loretto and taught at the Loretto Academy, a Catholic girls’ school that occupied what is now the hotel. She died in 1976 and her ghost apparently haunts the premises, leaving a lingering odor of cigar smoke in the hotel hallways. If you do come across Sister George, you might want to visit the hotel lounge where you can order a bracing cocktail that’s named in her honor. The Smoking Nun—made with Knob Creek Rye Whiskey, muddled orange, brandied cherry, Hennessy VSOP, Grand Marnier, Regans Orange Bitters and lightly infused smoke—should calm your nerves before you head to dinner.
At Luminaria, the signature tortilla soup will give comfort, studded with grilled chicken and corn and served with avocado and cilantro. Or, start with chicken-fried seasonal forest mushrooms with Parmesan and a house buttermilk dip because chicken-fried anything is good for the soul. For sustenance, try the herb-crusted lamb T-bone with charred eggplant, cherry tomatoes and fregula sarda, or honey glazed duck with lavender, potatoes, glazed baby carrots, grilled peach, Calvados demi-glace and seared foie gras.
The warm and inviting atmosphere of the elegant Drury Plaza Hotel belies the haunted history of the building it occupies. This spot once was home to St. Vincent’s Hospital, built in 1853. After a boy died in Room 311, following a car accident, nurses reportedly heard his anguished cries, so the room was sealed off. Other ghostly activity includes the sound of someone running down a hallway, voices in the basement, loud banging noises and the eerie sense of being touched by unseen hands. Some locals say that this phenomenon is connected to Native American spirits involved in the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, when a church on the site was destroyed.
If all that ghostly activity makes you feel a bit peckish, you’ll want to check out the Masterpiece Grill, which opened in 2021. Offering high-quality American-style food, craft brews, and a contemporary urban dining experience, favored entrees include a pistachio-dusted salmon with a sweet IPA and Santa Fe whiskey glaze. Or, for those who like vegetarian, vegan, or gluten free options, try the Grilled Garden Wrap Sandwich and Farm to Table Platter. Spooky good!
Lots of ghosts are rumored to haunt La Fonda on the Plaza, which occupies the country’s oldest hotel corner. From a judge who was shot in the lobby and now wanders the hotel in his long black coat to a young bride, murdered on her wedding night by her ex-lover, La Fonda has many spooky tales to tell. Nearly a dozen ghosts have checked in across the centuries, including a politician who killed a man for having an affair with his wife while they all were staying at the hotel. He was promptly hanged from a tree in the courtyard and haunts the hotel to this day. Or, keep a look out for the ghosts of a bride and groom who honeymooned at La Fonda during the 1930s. The groom got into a fight and was shot by the barkeep. The bride, wearing her nightgown, has been seen hovering above the ghost of her husband before disappearing into thin air.
Dine at La Plazuela, the hotel’s acclaimed restaurant, and you might spot the spirit of a St. Louis salesman who gambled and won, then drank away his money at the hotel bar. Despondent, he flung himself down the outside well and drowned. The well was covered and the restaurant built around it, but the salesman’s ghost has been seen walking toward the well then vanishing into the floor. All of this paranormal activity could activate your hunger, so take a seat and dig into northern New Mexican specialties such as enchiladas, rellenos, and tacos. Or you could try the char-grilled Barrel Cut 1855 Ribeye, or the pan-seared pork tenderloin medallions with grilled sweet corn-black bean salad, BBQ chipotle vinaigrette and sauteed spinach. Just pay no mind to the transparent guy disappearing into the floor.
Mining for Spirits
Out in the historic mining town of Madrid, the entire place reportedly is haunted. La Llorona has been seen wandering the canyons and the ghost of a cowboy escorts a Spanish lady down main street. Other entities that haunt the town have been seen at the historic Mine Shaft Tavern, where doors swing open and shut, glasses mysteriously fly across the bar then break on the floor, and the sounds of partying continue long after the place closes down. Patrons have even reported seeing someone else’s face looking back at them from the mirrors in the restrooms.
The Mine Shaft Tavern is equally popular among the living, who gather here for live music, melodrama performances and great roadhouse fare, including the Santa Fe Green Chile Cheeseburger Smackdown People’s Choice winner, the MadChile Burger, made with roasted Hatch Green Chile and a battered and fried Hatch Chile along with aged cheddar and chipotle Dijonnaise on a brioche bun. Or try the BBQ pork or brisket sandwich, enchilada plate and mac’n’cheese. For dessert, the chocolate toffee Kahlua mousse cake will hit the spot. Keep alert in case some spirit tries to stare you down in the bathroom.
For more information about haunted sites in Santa Fe and around the state, click here.This article was posted by Cheryl Fallstead