Eat and Drink… With the Dead!

Get ready for Halloween with a sampling of Los Angeles’ spookiest haunted hotels, bars, and restaurants
Eat and Drink… With the Dead!

James T. Bartlett

Does the ghost of Walt Disney still hang out at the Tam O'Shanter?

Halloween is here, and what better way to celebrate the dead by raising a glass at a haunted bar, or having dinner in a hotel that’s been home to scandals and moments in crime? Los Angeles has plenty of spooky joints, so we took a quick journey to Tinsel Town — and beyond — and offer you a guide to some of the choice cuts.

A very swank hangout is the Sunset Tower Hotel in West Hollywood, which used to be the place gangster Bugsy Siegel called home, and saw Capote gleefully report its salacious scandals.

An anonymous contact revealed that staff members have reported a small girl running around the 12th floor, and an engineer here once saw an elderly man sitting in a chair at the dead end of the corridor beside some (empty) rooms. When he looked back, the man was gone. Grab a Tower Smash cocktail in the terrace bar (Siegel’s old room), and look discretely for celebrities before checking out the view.

King Eddy Saloon

James T. Bartlett

The King Edward Hotel opened over 100 years ago, but its King Eddy Saloon has always taken the spotlight — for both good and bad. A regular hangout for writer Charles Bukowski, it’s been a skid row staple for decades — even with its hip makeover. Another stoolie here, John Fante, mentioned the bar and a “girl with yellow hair” in his autobiographical Ask the Dust. Was she the inspiration for the apocryphal “ghostly hitchhiker”?

The hotel has had its deadly moments too. In 1906, Benjamin E. Smith took poison in his room, and in 1925, Albert Walker took a similar deadly drink, with his suicide note simply reading: “Good-by, everybody.”

Many places in L.A. boast that “X, Y, or Z stayed here,” but at the Stowell Hotel it’s really true. Comedy genius Charlie Chaplin mentioned it in his memoirs, and the staff now blames mistakes on his ghost; some have even seen crockery and glassware flying off shelves.

Love scandals have hit this place too, as in 1932, Louise Hickman committed suicide here in a Gothic way worthy of a movie: she bit into a poisoned peach. Today it’s the El Dorado apartments and also Le Petit Paris, a grand French restaurant with great eggs Benedict!  Stroll up the fabulous staircase once you’ve arrived; it’s the same one that the “Little Tramp” walked up and down — and maybe still does…  

Le Petit Paris

James T. Bartlett

A mix of a castle and a witch’s house, the Tam O’Shanter is famous for inspiring one of its regular diners (a certain Mr. Disney) and many of his future creative geniuses. Designed in tribute to everything Scottish, it’s a haven for prime rib and dishes from the British Isles — and of course it has resident ghosts.

Disney himself might be seen at his regular table, and a small child has been seen near the portrait of the young “Bonnie” Prince Charlie from the eighteenth century, apparently among several other phantom diners. Can it all be explained away by samplings of the spirits available at The Tam? Either way, the happiest place on earth seems to have been partly planned here, so that’s one good thing…

It may not be the biggest box office blockbuster anymore, but the movie Titanic is still top of the pops at the ocean liner-shaped Café Jack, a tribute to the 1997 weepie, which looks like it has run aground right in the middle of the Koreatown neighborhood.

Shaved ice, smoothies, and teas fuel conversation in the ramshackle rooms, long corridors, and strange walkways. There’s karaoke here, too, but the real magic happens by appointment: There are tarot card readings in back here, and owner/supremo Jack Shin is said to be deadly accurate. Pick a card!

Front Cover

James T. Bartlett

James T. Bartlett searched the archives, trawled the bars, and unearthed new stories about L.A.’s dark past for Gourmet Ghosts 2, a murder, mystery, history, and ghost guide. It can be found on Amazon, and for more information, check, or get your Daily Death and more on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter @gourmetghosts #gourmetghosts

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