Halloween History (and Food) in Santa Fe - SantaFe.com
pumpkin in the snow

The country’s oldest capital city is guaranteed to be haunted with all sorts of spirits, so what better place to celebrate Halloween than Santa Fe? Ghostly legends abound in this old city, from the famous story about La Llorona, forever searching for her lost children, to the aristocratic lady who haunts the elegant mansion where she lived and died, despondent over the death of her young son. The headless horseman of Alto Street, sword in hand, reportely rides to the Santa Fe river in ghostly glory while nearby, government employees at the PERA (Public Employees Retirement Association) Building refuse to enter the basement alone, since it sits on top of a pauper’s cemetery. All kinds of unearthly activity has been reported here, from unseen hands touching people on the basement stairs to ghastly wails and other sounds.

In such a haunted city, it’s no surprise that spirits reportedly reside in some popular Santa Fe restaurants. They’re not there for the great food but rather because they have a spooky connection to the historic buildings that house the restaurants. So read on and decide which ghost story appeals to you, then make your reservation, because these restaurants are hot spots anytime of the year, not just on Halloween. And keep your eyes open, for you never know when an apparition will make an appearance.

Spooky Sister George

Reserve a table at the Inn and Spa at Loretto’s Luminaria and you just might catch a glimpse of Sister George, who relished her cigars. A member of the Order of The Sisters of Loretto, she taught at the Loretto Academy, the Catholic school for girls that once occupied the hotel. Known as the Smoking Gun, she left this world in 1976, but her ghost haunts the premises. You might catch her lingering scent of cigar smoke in the hotel hallways. Start your evening with the Smoking Gun—a spirited cocktail made with Knob Creek Rye Whiskey, muddled orange, brandied cherry, Hennessy VSOP, Grand Marnier, Regans Orange Bitters and lightly infused smoke—and make a toast to Sister George. Then dine on some hearty fare to combat any nerves you might have about hunting a ghost. Try the braised peppered short rib with blackberry au poivre, or the New Mexico chile-rubbed pork loin with green chile sweet potato hash and prickly pear gastrique. For dessert, order the ultimate comfort food, milk and cookies. In this case, biscochito with Nata ice cream and anise caramel. Leave a few bites for Sister George, and she’ll be forever grateful. After all, it’s not a bad idea to have an entity from the other world on your side in this one.

Hotel Guests Who Never Checked Out

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. 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. You’ll have to keep an eye on that well as you savor La Plazuela’s northern New Mexican specialties such as enchiladas, rellenos, tacos, the same fare these ghosts might have dined on when they were human guests at the hotel. If no salesman appears then drop by the Fiesta Lounge for a nightcap, and the ghost of a cowboy might just appear on the barstool next to you.

Haunted History

The warm and inviting atmosphere of The Drury Hotel belies the haunted history of the building it occupies. Now the elegant Drury Plaza Hotel, 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 spine-tingling activity in the building includes ghostly voices in the basement and loud bangs. The hospital’s morgue now serves as the restaurant’s private dining room, so you could bravely reserve that space and see what might unfold. If nothing spooky takes place, the tantalizing aroma of some of chef John Sedlar’s irresistible modern Southwestern cuisine—Chile-braised Brisket, Tomahawk Pork Chop, Campfire Lamb Chops—might draw the spirits out. And Orange Tres Leches with Chocolate Mole Ice Cream would be hard for anybody, or thing, to resist.

This article was posted by Cheryl Fallstead

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