Haunted Dining in Denver

When you think of the “Old West,” you just assume that comes with cowboy boots, tumbleweeds and your fair share of ghost stories. And when you belly up to a 100-year-old bar, well my friend, you’ve just hit the motherlode.

Denver and the surrounding areas are full of fanciful and (sometimes) spine-tingling stories of the paranormal, and it does seem that nearly every one involves an old brothel, a shootout, or a ne’er do well who angered the local madame and got tossed out a three-story window.

So, if you’re hungry for a little grub before the show, put your game face on and head out to these historic hot spots.


12 Spirits Tavern

420 E. 11th Ave., Denver

The name says it all — 12 spirits wander the grounds of the old Patterson Inn, which was once the home of Thomas M. Patterson, former Congressman and publisher of the Rocky Mountain News. According to the Inn which claims to be the second most haunted hotel in Colorado, “Patterson lived in the home from 1893 until he died there in 1916, tragically preceded in death by his wife Katherine, his son James, his daughter Mary and an infant child — all of whom met untimely deaths in the home.” Now, Patterson’s old smoking lounge is open seven nights a week and features 12 bottles of bourbon behind the bar, a variety of specialty cocktails for $12 and a sampling of interesting bar food.

Bar Red

437 West Colfax Ave.

Bar Red simply has too many “unique” qualities not to be haunted. Considering a Prohibition-era tunnel, a door that goes nowhere, and a history as a brothel, this 120-year-old building seems to have a spirit or two. No wonder the owner claims to have seen a red mist in the cellar, heard inexplicable crashes and footsteps, and had a hair-raising sensation that prevented him from looking back. But, paranormal experts claim that the ghosts aren’t a menace, so the place gladly welcomes visitors to enjoy a mix of Italian and American cuisine with an assortment of spirits of another kind.

The Buckhorn Exchange

Buckhorn Exchange

1000 Osage, Denver

As the oldest restaurant in Denver, the Buckhorn Exchange has catered to a wide variety of individuals over its 130-year history — Chief Sitting Bull, Buffalo Bill Cody, four presidents, royalty, Hollywood legends, traders, farmers, gamblers, miners and hunters. It’s said that anyone who died near the establishment made the restaurant their permanent home. Today, diners hear footsteps and conversations when no one is present and tables have even been known to move without cause. Try spearing your meat at a moving table for that’s the Buckhorn specialty…steaks, buffalo, elk and more.

Celtic on Market

1400 Market St., Denver

The Celtic resides on Market Street, long considered the most notorious street in Denver. In its heyday, it featured parlor houses, maisons de joie, brothels, dancehalls and hurdy gurdy houses. Now, it’s included in numerous “haunted tours” of the city because eerie occurrences have become commonplace: flickering lights, unexplained footsteps and chilling whispers. Staff members have encountered objects moving on their own, and whispers of long-forgotten conversations echo through empty hallways. The origins of this haunting remain shrouded in mystery, but many speculate it to be tied to the building’s rich history, stretching back to those early days of Denver. The current proprietors are happy to distract you with onsite sports betting, Irish-inspired dishes and free-flowing pints of Guinness.

The exterior of the Brown Palace Hotel

The Brown Palace Hotel

The Brown Palace, 321 17th St., Denver

As much as The Brown Palace does not want to lay claim to its ghosts, the ghosts aren’t quite done with this historic hotel. According to an account reported in The Denver Post, staff have heard a big band playing in an empty room, lights that turn on and off, and apparitions dressed as train conductors. The hotel opened in 1892 and remains a popular destination for travelers and celebrities. The Brown boasts three restaurants, a bar, coffeeshop and a service of high tea in its soaring atrium.

Corridor 44

1433 Larimer St., Denver

When your husband hires a hit man to shoot your daughter’s suitor and accidentally kills your daughter too, it’s no wonder that mother Amelia isn’t able to rest. Instead, she upends liquor bottles, moves chairs and breaks mirrors, all to protest her daughter’s untimely death. Guests at Corridor 44 drink to her sad fate with a bit of bubbly at this speakeasy-turned-champagne bar in Denver’s historic Larimer Square.

Cruise Room

Oxford Hotel, 1600 17th St

It’s hard to determine which ghost you’d like to encounter at the Oxford Hotel. A murdered postal worker who bellied up to the bar one Christmas and was discovered — presents intact — in the spring snowmelt? Or former patrons of a once barbershop-now-bathroom who pop up unexpectedly in the mirrors. Either way, chase your screams with a martini from Denver’s longest-running bar, The Cruise Room. This chic, Art Deco hidden gem is a throwback to the Prohibition era.


2030 W. 30th Ave., Denver
Colorado’s only Death-Themed Restaurant

Picture this: A former mortuary converted to a death-themed restaurant complete with coffin-shaped happy hour menus. Yep. Sure to be some ghosts…maybe even Buffalo Bill Cody’s, whose body remained in the mortuary for six months while Colorado and Wyoming fought to bury his remains. While the water is served in bottles that look like they contained formaldehyde, the drinks definitely don’t leave a suspicious aftertaste. Instead the renowned restaurant is a hotspot in Denver’s LoHi neighborhood.

Photo courtesy of Nightly Spirits


If you’re looking more for a drink than a five-course meal, check out Nightly Spirits. This group organizes Ghost Tour Pub Crawl’s in both the LoDo and SoBo neighborhoods (shorthand for Lower Downtown and South Broadway). Tours are 2.5 hours and take you on a one-mile walking exploration of pubs in these popular neighborhoods. Guides give you a history of the area and regale (perhaps scare) you with ghostly stories sure to keep you up at night. Tours start at $29.95 per person.

Other Haunted Restaurants in the Area

Rock Rest Lodge

16005 Old Golden Rd., Golden

In a tale almost to unreal to be believable, there is Molly Barton…The Lady in Red. In 1923 when the Rock Rest Lodge was a brothel and speakeasy, young Molly was entertaining a gentleman when another entered the room and stole her clothes. Thrown to the rafters, a naked Molly was undeterred. She climbed the posts, retrieved her dress and bloomers but tragically fell reaching for her bra. But that’s not all. In her fall, she dislodged a stuffed moose head whose horn impaled young Molly’s heart. Her spirit still resides in the Lodge where she has been photographed. Check out the image online along with their menu of bar-b-que, burgers, pizza and more.

The Melting Pot, Littleton

2707 W. Main St., Littleton

Littleton’s former police department and jail serves up delicious fondue with a side of ghost stories. Staff have reported footsteps, reflections of faces in glass and mirrors, faucets turning on by themselves and conversations by people who weren’t there. As The Denver Post speculates, it may be the ghost of a prisoner who was shot trying to escape after killing a police officer. That’s a whole new meaning for life in prison.

Yak & Yeti

7803 Ralson Rd., Arvada, CO

Move over and make room for the ghost at Yak & Yeti. This Nepalese restaurant is nestled in an historic 1874 Victorian house in Arvada. In the 1940s, former owner Cora Van Voorhis tumbled down the stairs to her death. Her ghost and maybe that of her uncle are said to be frequent visitors to the dining room where they move objects, make sounds, close doors and leave a distinct chill in the air. None of that seems to worry the locals who enjoy coming to the brewery, whose original beers are regularly recognized at the Great American Beer Fest, Colorado Brewfest and more.