When it comes to dining experiences, they say ambiance counts just as much as what’s on the plates. And for those who crave a side of spine-chill or dash of eeriness with their entrees, several Valley restaurants serve up spooky vibes in healthy portions.
From silverware flying off tables to beer bottles that tumble off bars without being touched, brewing equipment that mysteriously moves from one room to another and after-hours paranormal activity that scares off cleaning crews, these haunted dining venues are more than a little spirited.
Here are the stories behind the most haunted restaurants in metro Phoenix.
Casey Moore’s Oyster House
This popular neighborhood bar and seafood spot a few blocks from Tempe’s Mill Avenue and Arizona State University is famous for decades of paranormal sounds and sightings.
The most common sighting is of a man and woman in vintage clothing who are seen dancing on the second floor after closing time, usually in the wee hours of the morning before sunrise. Neighbors have even called the police, but officers arrived to find an empty space and undisturbed alarm system.
The couple are said to be the ghosts of William and Mary Moeur, the original owners of the historic home and part of the influential Moeur family responsible for much of the early development of Tempe.
Others report a vision of a woman wandering around during business hours.
According to legend, the apparition was a resident during the days when the building was used as a boardinghouse (and possibly a brothel). She was strangled by a bitter ex-boyfriend and now is said to make her presence known by sending pictures flying off walls and launching silverware off tables in the second floor dining space. Opening staff members have also been welcomed by tables and chairs that have been mysteriously rearranged overnight.
Details: 850 S. Ash Ave., Tempe. 480-968-9935, caseymooresoysterhouse.godaddysites.com.
A former meatpacking house owned by “Cattle Baron” Edward A. Tovrea, this east Phoenix steakhouse has been around since 1947, and is known for its huge steaks and calf fries.
But, over the decades, it’s become known for other features that sometimes give unsuspecting patrons and employees a scare.
In 1953, a fire ripped through the restaurant, forcing a temporary closure. By this time, Tovrea’s son Phillip had taken over the operations after his father’s death. Phillip’s wife, Helen, helmed the redesign and new look of the restaurant, which reopened a year later.
In the Rose Room, one of three banquet rooms on-site, a painting featuring the “Lady in Red” pays homage to Helen, whose spirit wanders throughout the restaurant in her distinct scarlet dress. She sometimes visit the saloon or surprises women in the restroom. Lights flickering off and on and a shaking chandelier are apparently also her doing.
Cleaning crews have fled and refused to return after experiencing paranormal activity after hours and there have been numerous staff stories over the years about hearing voices when not a single soul — at least that can be seen with the naked eye — is around.
Details: 5009 E. Washington St., Phoenix. 602-273-7378, stockyardssteakhouse.com.
Lon’s at the Hermosa Inn
Not only the living are drawn to this luxurious resort, famous for its elegant dishes and idyllic outdoor dining space nestled against the mountains and lush environs of Paradise Valley.
Famous cowboy artist Alonzo “Lon” Megargee III was the original owner of the Inn. It also served as Megargee’s home, where he created some of his greatest pieces.
Ever since his unexpected death in 1960, at the age of 77, patrons and staff have reported seeing his unmistakable, lanky shadow and the silhouette of his trademark Stetson around the restaurant.
Unlike other spirits, however, Megargee’s presence has rarely caused fright among regulars.
In life, he was known for being fun loving and jovial and this seems to have continued even in death.
The random falling of glasses and beer bottles off the bar, pots tumbling off kitchen shelves and the occasional, inexplicable flushing of toilets are believed to be his way of keeping the good times rolling.
Details: 5532 N. Palo Cristi Road, Paradise Valley. 602-955-7878, lons.com.
Four Peaks Brewing Company
The original Eighth Street location of the iconic beer house predates Arizona statehood. Built in east Tempe in 1892, the stately brick building opened as an ice plant then served as a creamery before emerging as the home of beloved ales, lagers and porters in 1996.
Train wrecks just outside of the building and at least one death inside it are said to have led to a haunting that has resulted in strange noises hailing from the rafters, tools that inexplicably move to other parts of the brewery overnight and employee sightings of apparitions.
Its haunted persona has been so embraced that it has become fodder for Four Peaks’ annual haunted brewery tour that runs Monday-Wednesday through Oct. 27.
For $25, guests get a commemorative T-shirt, a pitcher of Pumpkin Porter and a tour complete with all of the stories, including the tale of a conversation one of the founders had in the the 1990s with a man who had died in the 1970s.
Details: 1340 E. Eighth St., Tempe. 480- 303-9967, fourpeaks.com.
The Ostrich Bar at Crowne Plaza Phoenix Chandler Golf Resort
This resort, formerly known as The San Marcos, is home to Crust Simply Italian, AJ’s Restaurant and a speakeasy, The Ostrich Bar. Whether the ghosts that float through the property make their way into the restaurants has yet to be determined. But the 109-year-old downtown Chandler hotel has long been the source of spooky goings-on.
In the 1960s, two girls named Monica and Henrietta were playing in the irrigation tunnels when they were suddenly inundated with floodwater. Both drowned, and to this day, the sound of girls’ laughter can be heard in the hotel and basement.
Guests also have reported seeing the image of a woman floating through hallways and doors, receiving internal phone calls from rooms and extensions that no longer exist and hearing moaning coming from the hotel’s empty spaces.
Details: 10 N. San Marcos Place, Chandler. sanmarcosresort.com.
Centrico at Hotel San Carlos
Centrico restaurant has called the Hotel San Carlos home since the Mexican eatery opened in 2017, but the building itself has been around much longer.
Not long after this historic downtown Phoenix hotel opened its doors in 1928, a young woman — said to have been reeling from a heartbreaking split from her boyfriend —jumped to her death. Her ghost is said to be the woman guests see standing at the foot of their beds and wandering staircases.
She, however, doesn’t appear to be a lone soul.
There have been other reports of a little girl crying in empty rooms and the sounds of children running through the hallways or in the basement — possible supernatural vestiges of the city’s first school, which was built in the late 19th century on the plot where the hotel and restaurant now stand.
Details: 202 N. Central Ave., Phoenix. 602-253-4121, historichotelsancarlos.com.