179 East 86th Street
City: New York, NY
Phone: (212) 369-0648
Friday & Saturday
Site: Visit the restaurant site
Cuisine: Hot Dogs
Area: East 80s
With the fear of committing blasphemy, let me say it is sad to see Gray's Papaya in the Village go. I think Eater devoted an entire week or so to its demise. But the last few visits really weren't that great. As I see it, it is out with the old and in with the new. The neighborhood will decide if its replacement, the evil Liquiteria, will survive. I'm not an avid juicer, so I really don't care either way.
But I am a hot dog fan. So, I could not resist visiting another old time papaya joint, King Papaya on East 86th Street, which has been serving hot dogs and its sweet tropical drinks since 1932. Similar to Gray's Papaya, the hot dogs here are also grilled en masse. The place is always packed with people ordering two, three, even four at a time.
You can get your hot dogs smothered with sauerkraut, chili, chili & cheese, and relish. Or, go for one of Papaya King's special dogs like the "Homerun" with New York onions and kraut, or the "Beefinator" with meat sauce. On this paticular visit, we tried the "Upper East." It is a mouthful, loaded up with pastrami, sauerkraut and pickles and quite tasty. It is very hard to eat just one. The onion rings also nailed it. They are beer battered and cooked up fresh on the spot. Each had a humongous onion ring inside and were gloriously greasy. While I wouldn't recommend eating them every day, they do make for a very nice treat.
So, while Gray's Papaya in the Village may be gone, Papaya King is still here. They also have a location on St. Marks Place for all of you hot dog junkies in need of a quick fix.
Review By: Thomas Rafael