Some of the most unique restaurants in Virginia are found in buildings that once served a different purpose. This historic element adds depth to the experience, and in some cases, a little paranormal activity as well. Gadsby’s Tavern Restaurant is not only one of the oldest taverns in the country, but it also is notoriously haunted. Here’s more about the history behind this fine dining experience.
Gadsby's Tavern in Old Town Alexandria embraces every aspect of its fascinating history. This is made apparent by the servers dressed in period costume as well as the general feel of the interior. The cozy tavern dates back to 1785, when it served as a center of commercial and social activity. George Washington himself was included among some of the famous guests who frequented the site. Today, the restaurant welcomes locals and tourists alike into the original dining room, which is considered a National Historic Landmark.
One particular aspect of its history that Gadsby's Tavern embraces is the paranormal. The haunted history began in the early 1800s. At this point, the tavern was known as the City Hotel, a noteworthy accommodation that attracted socialites from all over. One such couple arrived in 1816 from the Caribbean. The wife had fallen ill, and the two took to room 8 in hopes that she would recover. When she did not, the man asked all hotel attendants to keep her name anonymous, and for reasons unknown still today.
Visitors will notice this infamous "Tomb of the Female Stranger" just off of Duke Street in the St. Paul's Cemetery. This tabletop cost a fortune to build, and the inscribed poem is both romantic and tragic. Adding even more mystery to the story is the fact that he left town without paying for any of the hotel expenses, including the tombstone. The town was enraged, but had no way to find out who this couple had been.
Some visitors and even employees have remembered peculiar times when they believe the Female Stranger has made a ghostly appearance. According to legend, she is particularly fond of room 8, her last place of residence, as well as the kitchen on a rare occasion. Of course, this spooky activity is cherished by the restaurant, always making for lively conversation with guests and visitors. If anything, it will make your experience there all the more memorable.
If its eerie history isn't enough to intrigue you to visit, the restaurant's delectable menu definitely will. The variety includes both contemporary and traditional fare, depending on which experience you're in the mood for. On a chilly night, it's the perfect place to warm up with some homemade Chicken Pot Pie (as photographed above). The tavern is open for brunch, lunch, and dinner.
And the desserts alone are enough to travel to Alexandria for. Once you try the rum-laced banana bread pudding, you might very well forget the place even has a haunted history at all.