You might not always admit it, but whether you’re going through a haunted maze, jumping out of an airplane or just watching a horror movie, you love being scared. The anticipation gives you an adrenaline rush like no other, and it’s that very thrill we chase, that has folks flocking to this humble taco shop in Arcadia, California.
Multiple accounts have been published where people swear they’ve seen a ghost appear near the bathroom of Taco Lita; and it’s not just a typical orb or a flash of light — people are seeing a human being walk into the restroom and disappear like Clayton Kershaw in the playoffs.
While there is no documented origin story for this taco-loving ghost, he has been identified as a tall, elderly man who wears khaki pants, a yellow sweater, and habitually makes his way inside the restroom located by the back lot.
The stories remind me of my ghost-hunting high school English teacher, who once told the class that some ghosts reenact their deaths on a loop. That means there’s a possibility this man walks into this restroom regularly, although it seems a precise pattern has yet to be recorded by any formal ghost chasers.
If you look hard enough, you’ll find mentions of the ghost in Yelp reviews, but perhaps the best account of the ghost was given by horror writer Tamara Thorne, in the San Gabriel Tribune.
Thorne relayed that she and her husband stopped by Taco Lita with plans to use the restroom. Her husband waited on a man who they had just seen walk into the men’s room, and after patiently waiting for some time, he eventually decided to knock on the door, asking if the guy was okay. After some concerning length of silence, they opened the door to find a completely empty restroom, with the light off, and no sign of a man anywhere.
There have been other, more terrifying accounts, with the older man supposedly having bugs in his mouth, and sometimes appearing in the mirror, but those stories were told anonymously, without many specifics.
Taco Lita just happens to be about 15 minutes from my house, so my horror-loving friend Donna and I embarked on a spooky adventure last Halloween, hoping to see something for ourselves.
As you walk into the little shop, the authentic 60s decor already throws you off a bit. It feels like not a single renovation has been made since its inception in 1967.
On top of that, all the seats are facing the kitchen, almost like a grade school seating arrangement, with everyone positioned towards the teacher. That means no matter where you sit, you’re forced to look at the employees through their see-through glass wall.
I walked up to the counter and put in my order for a couple of tacos, which apparently are more Del Taco-style than street style.
I get my receipt, and my order was No. 13 — because of course it was.
It was 2 p.m., how was I the 13th customer?
Anyway, I thanked my unlucky stars that I wasn’t No. 666, and carried on with my lunch.
The hard shell taco was nothing to write home about, but it seems like the shop is an after school hangout spot, and not exactly a culinary destination anyway.
After eating my tacos and scoping out the place, I decided to walk up to the cashier, Patty, and playfully asked if any of the haunting rumors were true. Apparently Patty has been there longer than anyone, so if anyone knew anything, it’d be her.
As she fiddled around in the back, without making eye contact she said, “Some people have told me they’ve seen things by the bathroom.”
She didn’t seem too willing to go into detail, but hoping to get some more out of her, I followed up by asking, ‘Do you think any of it is real?’
She suddenly stopped counting her receipts, looked up at me, gave me a grin and said, “You’re welcome to check it out for yourself,” in the most creepy, old-lady-working-at-a-haunted-restaurant way.
So I reluctantly went back to check it out for myself.
I opened the door to the tiny restroom, and it definitely looked like a place where one can pass out and carry on into the afterlife to haunt the living.
Every which way I turned, I fully expected to see a portal to a new dimension. I even closed the door and stared at the mirror just to scare the shit out of myself.
It was just your typical restroom, a bit too tiny if anything.
My friend Donna took a selfie in there, and we sat in the back parking lot, waiting to see if any yellow-sweatered man rolled up to take a ghastly bathroom break.
Nothing. Maybe we scared him away.
Sure we had already walked in expecting something creepy to go down, but I swear the vibes in that place were spooky. The way all the employees stared at us as we ate, almost felt like they expected my visit, and just wanted me to leave.
Other than that, there was unfortunately no paranormal sighting, though there was one thing I’d like to note after the fact.
As I reviewed the photos I took that day, trying to pick a few out for this article, there was a peculiarly missing photo. A blank photo, actually.
I was wondering to myself, did I accidentally put my thumb on the lens while taking that photo? But I actually remembered that as I was taking photos of the interior that day, I took a shot of the employee area, directly in front of where we were sitting.
I swear to you that photo came out clear as day when I took it, and I even remember looking at it after I took it.
There was nothing particularly interesting going on back there, just their regular assembly line.
I’m not one who completely buys into the supernatural, and I’m sure the folks working there aren’t paranormal, but it does give me some chills that that specific photo is missing, and is the only blank photo in my entire camera roll.
There are tons of possibilities why that photo is blank, and I’d believe any one of them if you told me, but I’d also like to think there’s something spooky going on at Taco Lita; something that didn’t appreciate a nosy journalist poking around in there, looking for things that don’t concern him.