Around Halloween time (or whenever I'm feeling in the mood to watch Halloweentown High), the air feels a little spookier and I can't help wondering if there's something to all these ghost stories.
In Manhattan, it seems that any establishment older than 50 years is haunted, probably because of all the tortured artists that have died on New York streets. All these ghosts have unfinished business and it seems that they're not ready to leave New York City behind...
1. il Buco
47 Bond Street
One of two haunted restaurants to make it onto NewYork.com's list of NY's top 10 most romantic restaurants, il Buco is also one of New York's most spooky restaurants. Edgar Allan Poe was inspired to write "The Cask of Amontillado" after several visits to 47 Bond Street, and it's easy to see why. This 200-year-old wine cellar is as beautiful as it is mystical.
According to some real-life ghost-busters, the wine cellar was the site of the murder of a young woman, so maybe Poe was on to something. Even the owners avoid venturing into the wine cellar at night.
2. White Horse Tavern
567 Hudson Street
Obviously, poets have a hard time letting things go: poet Dylan Thomas was a regular at the West Village's White Horse Tavern, near where he ultimately died of pneumonia (although he had also consumed 18 whiskies at the White Horse Tavern that same night). Rumor has it that Thomas haunts the White Horse Tavern from time to time, maybe trying to beat his personal record of "18 straight whiskies".
If you're twenty-one and want to give Thomas a run for his money, there's lots of beers and liquors to choose from. Not to worry if you can't have alcohol because there's also a fairly decent food menu.
3. One if by Land, Two if by Sea
17 Barrow Street
Every list of haunted restaurants includes One if by Land, Two if by Sea. This is probably because the ghosts are very famous (although it, like il Buco, has been named one of the most romantic as well). Aaron Burr, the former owner of the carriage house, is said to haunt the restaurant along with his daughter, Theodosia Burr Alston, who vanished mysteriously from history. Theodosia's spirit has a bad reputation for stealing the earrings of female patrons.
They are the two more famous ghosts of the restaurant (especially since Burr is currently a star of the musical Hamilton), but experts think there might be as many as twenty roaming around. The restaurant manages to maintain a romantic atmosphere with delicious food despite the ghosts--maybe it's why they stick around.
4. The Round Table
Inside the Algonquin Hotel, 59 W. 44th Street
Famous in its own right because of the famous thinkers who frequented this location, the Algonquin Hotel is rumored to host the spirit of Dorothy Parker. She did some of her writing at the Round Table, and the hotel and restaurant staff have seen signs that she may still be lurking around. This is a great place to catch a pre-theater dinner before heading off to a show at one of New York's haunted theaters.
5. The Bridge Cafe
279 Water Street
Hailed as one of New York's oldest establishments with beams from 1794, Bridge Cafe has been everything from a pirate bar to a brothel to a speakeasy. Although currently under renovation because the ancient wood was submerged and damaged by Hurricane Sandy, the restaurant is so close to being open again.
200 years of business means that you're bound to pick up a ghost or two along the way, and there's been sightings of moving shadows, perhaps the presence of the former bouncer Gallus Mag, who used to have a bad habit of biting off the ears of unruly patrons, so beware a tingling ear when eating at Bridge Cafe.