New York Review: Gray’s Papaya Hot Dogs

My husband moved here a month before me and had a few things he was dying to show me. Top on his list was our apartment, but just below that was Gray’s Papaya.

After a long walk in the melting snow, I got to see Central Park, walk through Macy’s, and end our day at this cheesy looking hot dog shop. Huh, it’s crowded, but what of any interest to me could be made under cheap paper cutouts of pineapple?

signs and paper pineapples

I’m from Los Angeles so the competition is Pink’s. Ooh, the heart stopping dogs at Pink’s. Mmmmm.

Well, it’s very possible Pink’s and Gray’s Papaya are fascinating symbols of how the two urban centers tick. Pink’s is pure Hollywood: photos of movie stars past their prime, a menu with hot dogs named after celebrities, and a myriad hipsters in between you and a bacon wrapped hotdog. But once you get past the hip, you get some good tasting grub.

Gray’s is no nonsense. You get a hotdog. It’s on a bun. You got some variety on condiments, but really, why order anything than what’s in the two buckets next to the hot dog spinner: kraut and…what is that? some weird ketchup? salsa? huh? Well, I like not having to shuffle past a two hour line of hipsters….but do I get delicious dogs? Suddenly, how well I settled into my new city rested on this wrapped meat snuggled in a bun. What if I’m okay with the no-nonsense, but don’t like what I came here for?  If I don’t like the dogs, what does that mean about me? Can I ever be a “New Yorker”?

Being adventurous, I order “everything” on it which ends up being those two buckets. I tackled my hot dog like any California girl would after a day in NYC winter -voraciously. But still nervous. In the last five days, I have been searching for new regular spots. I had yet to find one. I wanted to find one. Find my replacements. Find my new favorites. Find what will make me call NYC home. Could this be it?

candy in a bun

What i got was candy on a bun. What is this magical concoction of sweet and savory? How soon would I die of a coronary if I made this my daily lunch? Who cares. I want another dog. And another. And another.

Now, I don’t quite understand the allure of the papaya drink. It tastes like sugar water to me. And with the sweet of the dogs, I don’t really need a sweet drink. I’ll have to explore my options more next time I’m there. And next time will be very soon.

I will miss Pink’s. It had some damned good dogs. But I will get over it much faster with Gray’s Papaya’s dogs. Thank you GP, you just helped me get one step closer to calling my new city “home.”

Gray’s Papaya
402 6th Ave
New York, NY 10011


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Lynn says:

    Gray’s Papaya looks great! How could you turn your nose up at the pinapples?! Do you have a problem with ambiance? I can smell those dogs all the way in LA.

  2. splitid says:


    You gotta visit. I found this waffle truck…and a dimsum truck….and the best coffee ever….and….

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