El Fandango Restaurant

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A mansion fire victim is depressed and doesn’t care.



El Fandango Restaurant is in a building which was built on the spot of the ruins of one of the Machado family’s three mansions, which burned to the ground in 1858. It is a two-story, brownish cream-colored building. The upstairs are used for office space and a banquet room, while downstairs there is a very nice dining and event area, and an outside patio area.

The menu selections offered today reflect the rich mix of cuisine which evolved locally during the 1846 – 1856 era, because of the number of people who came to California from all over the world to participate in the gold rush. A “cosmopolitan collection of various cuisines,” besides traditional Mexican fare, became popular as the people settling here obviously enjoyed eating, brought their own recipes with them, and were open to new recipes.

The name of the restaurant was inspired by the huge traditional, special parties, called Fandangos, thrown by rich families to celebrate major family events. The whole town would be invited and were fed traditional Mexican dishes and beef in the host’s patio, while enjoying musical entertainment. Close family friends were fed inside “very elaborate cooking.” In the spirit of the Fandangos of old, live music is offered as entertainment Thursday through Sunday, 6:30- 9:30 pm.



The Patriarch of the Machado family, José Manuel Machado, was one of the first soldiers stationed at the Presidio of San Diego and one of the first settlers of Old Town. He was born in 1756 and arrived in San Diego in 1781.

He married a young woman, Serafina Valdez, aged 20 when he was 53, in an arranged marriage which produced 15 children, who became important people in the history of San Diego.

After the unfortunate destruction of one of the Machado family’s mansions in 1858, several other businesses were built on the land over the years. A billiard saloon, a bakery, and then another home were built on this site.



Female Apparition

The theory is that one of the Machado Family’s women died in the fire of 1858.

A wispy, white female apparition, dressed in Victorian attire, not in a good mood, either sad or angry, likes to sit at a darkened corner table near one of the front windows, only when the window shade is drawn shut as she doesn’t like the light.

It has also been reported that this apparition likes to float through the various parts of the building, often disappearing into the walls and doors.


Yes indeed.

She doesn’t interact or want to play with the living. She keeps to herself and avoids contact.

In 1992, William Hauk reports that some historical investigators did some research and came to the conclusion that the unhappy entity was a woman that was a Machado family member who indeed died in the 1858 fire.




2734 Calhoun Street
San Diego, California 92110

El Fandango Restaurant can be found in the Old Town Historical Park.



  • SanDiegoHistory.org
  • GoThere.com/SanDiego
  • The National Directory of Haunted Places
    by William Dennis Hauk
  • Some Pictures © Tom Carr

Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr

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