American restaurants to check out if you want a taste of horror


There are many ways restaurant decor can say welcome: fresh flowers, linen tablecloths, dim lighting.

At Terror Tacos in St. Louis, the welcome runs in the blood – in fact, sordid red paint that covers a wall in long drops, like the macabre drapery that Satan’s gnarled hand could pull to bring in the damned. in hell.

Self-proclaimed horror movie brothers and geeks Bradley Roach and Brian Roash opened Terror Tacos in March. (They spell their last names differently.) As a chef, Roach put together an all-vegan menu of tacos and burritos with his homemade seitan “carnage asada”. Roash, an artist who deals with the restaurant’s marketing, painted the artwork, including the face of a screaming woman that resembles that of Shelley Duvall in “The Shining.” The Cradle of Filth group often growls into the speakers.

The restaurant’s mix of horror, extreme metal and veganism is what draws loyal customers, Roach said, including hardened carnivores. “They don’t necessarily come back because the food is plant-based,” he said. “They are just excited to eat in a weird place.”

Terror Tacos is one of many gore-obsessed restaurants that have opened across the country since last Halloween, despite the pandemic and its dining restrictions. It is difficult to say why. Maybe horror fans are living their dreams now or never. Maybe restaurants are an antidote to the cheerfulness of corporate chains.

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What does horror taste like? ‘Carnage asada’ and bloody cocktails

Or maybe they are a positive response to a world that feels broken. When reality doesn’t seem to get much darker than it is, Roash said, a visit to a restaurant like Terror Tacos isn’t as daunting as it might have been earlier. “You would never want to equate terror with your brand because people might think our tacos are terrible,” he said. “But we’ve been terrified for two years, and people can relate to a screaming face.”

These new places come as horror movies and TV shows have become extremely popular and profitable during the pandemic and have even helped some people cope better with their anxieties, according to a study published last year in the journal. Personality and Individual Differences.

Coltan Scrivner, one of the study’s authors, said horror restaurants can be a sure-fire way to have fun with scary things in painful times.

“In a horror restaurant, no one is afraid,” said Scrivner, a behavior specialist at the University of Chicago who studies morbid curiosity, or why terrifying experiences attract people. “It sends a signal that while something looks scary, it might not be that bad.”

Unlike haunted houses, horror-themed restaurants aren’t there to scare anyone; they’re scarier “Frankenweenie” than scary “Cannibal Holocaust”. The look is heavy on movie posters and the playful design.

Word games are also a big part of the experience. The Witching Hour, a food trailer that opened in July in Bentonville, Arkansas, features Jason S’morehees inspired by “Friday the 13th,” a s’mores pie “served as cold as Jason in the back of the house. Lake”. The Brewed, a Chicago café opening in January, nods to David Cronenberg’s horror film “The Brood”.

At the Haunted House Restaurant in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, the vibe screams Saturday morning, not midnight grindhouse. The reception area is designed like a movie theater with a colorful mural depicting creatures like Frankenstein’s monster and Pennywise the clown. As the seafood pizza walks over to a table, the ominous musical chorus of “Jaws” plays over a loudspeaker.

Andre Scott, one of the four partners who opened the restaurant in July, doesn’t consider himself a horror fan. “I would watch a documentary before I watch a horror movie,” he said. But when choosing a theme, the vote of the partners was unanimous.

“Horror movies bring everyone together,” Scott said. “It doesn’t matter what race you are or whatever. I love it more than anything, especially with all the hatred in the world, seeing people enjoy the concept.”

The appearance of an old horror author’s grim study inspired the design of Cloak & Dagger, a lounge bar that opened a year ago just outside of downtown Cleveland . The walls are painted black and, like at Terror Tacos, the menu is vegan.

“There’s this feeling that horror fans lack empathy, because how else could they enjoy horror?” Scrivner said. “But a lot of horror fans are so empathetic that they don’t want to eat animals.”

Horror-themed meals have a history as long as that of a mummy. Costumed figures at the Jekyll & Hyde Club in Manhattan’s West Village have scared people for 30 years. Blairstown Diner in northwest New Jersey became a hot spot after being featured in the original “Friday the 13th” in 1980. And Muriel’s Jackson Square, a 20-year-old restaurant in the French Quarter of New Orleans , has its own ghost: legend has it that the spirit of the building’s former owner, Pierre Antoine Lepardi Jourdan, lives in the Séance lounge on the second floor.

The living dead ruled Zombie Burger, with two locations in the Des Moines, Iowa, area for 10 years. George Formaro, the chef and co-owner, said the zombie theme worked – though it was more susceptible to old-school monsters like Dracula and the Mummy – because “horror movies were a big deal in my childhood”.

“I think the burger and the horror movie are nostalgic for people,” said Formaro, who has a tattoo of Freddy Krueger’s glove and other horror villain accessories tattooed on his forearm. “Nostalgia is my most favorite ingredient to work with these days. “

In May, Jared Bradley and Rebecca Vega opened Raven’s Manor, a haunted mansion-style lounge bar in Portland, Oregon. The menu includes a Black Bread Grilled Cheese of Darkness and a vegan brain-shaped meatloaf called Cerebral Matter.

A trail of blood leads to an underground lab where customers wear lab coats and create cocktails during an “elixir experience”. The session is led by characters including Dr Creeps, assistant to Dr Raven, a fictional bar doctor, who kidnapped and experimented with his guests in a quest for immortality.

Mad scientists, a possessed mansion, ghostly visions: If this feels like a night with cartoon sleuths and their Great Dane, Vega doesn’t disagree. “I grew up with ‘Scooby-Doo’,” she said. “It was my gateway to horror.”

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