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Papaya King

179 E 86th St, New York, NY - (212) 369-0648
Posted By Michael Stern on 2/2/2011 3:57:00 PM
A tiny streetcorner eat-shop with an insistently happy, eye-aching red and yellow color scheme, Papaya King seems perpetually mobbed by hordes of hungry people pushing their way to the order counter, then to a space at the stand-up eating shelf at the window. The line that separates Third Avenue and 86th Street from the inside of Papaya King is only vaguely delineated, so even if you do eat inside, the dining experience is definitive street food.

Oddly enough – for a place famous as a hot dog joint – Papaya King began as a health-oriented juice store! That was long ago when original proprietor Gus Poulos hired waitresses to do the hula on the sidewalk and lure people inside to taste the tropical beverages he served. The papaya juice is creamy and sweet, reminiscent of the beverage served at New York’s old Orange Julius stands. In fact, all kinds of fruit juices are available; and according to one of the several dozen signs plastered all over the walls, papaya juice is particularly helpful for aiding digestion.

Don’t worry, though: your stomach won’t suffer if you indulge in Papaya King’s real specialty, which is the hot dog. Have two or three or four, and unless you insist on getting them heaped with chili and onions and gobbling a pound of Cajun curly fries on the side, this is a meal that will make good friends with your digestive tract. The hot dogs are dense and meaty with a beguiling garlic taste and a casing that pops with juice when you bite into it. The buns that encase them, although nicely toasted, are so bland that we often discard one bun for each two wieners and eat double-meat dogs (with kraut and tropical relish, of course).

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Scorecard

4 - Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
hot dog
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

A pair of Papaya King dogs, well-dressed
"A pair of Papaya King dogs, well-dressed"
Michael Stern





Papaya juice is creamy and sweet:  excellent balance for a few garlicky hot dogs.
"Papaya juice is creamy and sweet: excellent balance for a few garlicky hot dogs."
Michael Stern


The home run dog goes simple, with just sauerkraut and onions.
"The home run dog goes simple, with just sauerkraut and onions."
Cliff Strutz


Known as the hula hula, this busy hot dog has fresh pineapple, jalapenos, sweet peppers and sautéed onions.
"Known as the hula hula, this busy hot dog has fresh pineapple, jalapenos, sweet peppers and sautéed onions. "
Cliff Strutz


Most New Yorkers think of Papaya King for its hot dogs; but juice is how it started, and juice is still big in this little shop.
"Most New Yorkers think of Papaya King for its hot dogs; but juice is how it started, and juice is still big in this little shop."
Michael Stern


Tiny interior with standup-dining-only and seemingly hundreds of signs.
"Tiny interior with standup-dining-only and seemingly hundreds of signs."
Donald Thompson


Just some of the ways you can get your wiener fixed
"Just some of the ways you can get your wiener fixed"
Michael Stern


If the warden gave you your choice of anything for your last meal, would it be filet mignon ... or a Papaya King hot dog?
"If the warden gave you your choice of anything for your last meal, would it be filet mignon ... or a Papaya King hot dog?"
Michael Stern


This happy fella is the head atop a sandwich board on Third Avenue.
"This happy fella is the head atop a sandwich board on Third Avenue."
Michael Stern


Papaya King has doors, but if the weather is decent, it is basically an open-air corner stand.
"Papaya King has doors, but if the weather is decent, it is basically an open-air corner stand."
Michael Stern


The neon looks great at night!
"The neon looks great at night!"
Cliff Strutz



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