Lunch at Papaya King
I had a 3-hour lunch break during school recently. I thought this would be a perfect time to scour the city to go to a new hot dog establishment. After debating whether to go all the way downtown, I decided to walk to 86th street at 3rd avenue to get a combo deal at Papaya King. This place is covered in posters with factoids, grimy old posters, neon, and fake plastic fruit. Here’s one factoid you may not have been aware of.
This place could not have been more packed with locals, workers on break, and tourists trying to get lunch. Papaya King was started in 1932 and called Hawaiian Tropical Fruits, which only sold tropical fruit juices. In 1939 they started to sell hot dogs after the owner was introduced to food from German restaurants in the neighborhood. I got the King Combo, which includes 2 dogs, curly cajun fries, and a tropical drink. It is important to remember that this is a real fast-food dive, but I thought the dogs were pretty good. They were cooked up on those turning grills you see on the counter at 7-11. This is a pretty beloved place however. I got some kind of tropical orange drink, and one of the dogs had a ‘tropical’ relish, which was some kind of yellowish condiment, not very chunky.
I even had a ‘celebrity’ sighting. If you’ve ever watched Antiques Roadshow on PBS, you might recognize the twin Keno brothers, who are primarily furniture appraisers. One of them picked up a combo himself. I don’t know, I thought it was pretty cool. Here’s a picture of the big neon sign in the window. Apparently, Papaya King hot dogs are tastier than filet mignon.