Gray’s Papaya

Review by: billyboy

On a recent walk through Manhattan, I had a craving for a couple of Gray’s Papaya hot dogs. Specifically, the “Recession Special” of two dogs and a drink (currently $6.95). They’ve had that special going on for at least the past five years. I hope the special stays around (recession or not). I don’t eat a lot of hot dogs, but Gray’s really scratches the itch when I get the craving.

All hot dogs are grilled on a flat top and develop a brown crust that gives them a subtle snap when you bite into one. The toppings are sparse as the focus is on the dogs. One can choose sauerkraut, onions (like Sabrett’s onions), ketchup, or mustard. They apply the first two; the last two you apply as you see fit. I usually go with kraut, ketchup, and mustard. I like the balance of sour, sweet and tangy.

Drinks are of special note. Choices are the namesake papaya (rumor is they started out selling fruit juices and branched into hot dogs as well), coconut champagne, pina colada, orange, and a few others. I’ve had the papaya and the orange and I have to say I find them to be very refreshing and a harmonious balance to the hot dogs.

If you’re looking for an inexpensive and satisfying quick meal, Gray’s Papaya fits the bill.

Directions & Hours

8am - 10pm
  • Monday: 8:00 AM – 10:00 PM
  • Tuesday: 8:00 AM – 10:00 PM
  • Wednesday: 8:00 AM – 10:00 PM
  • Thursday: 8:00 AM – 11:00 PM
  • Friday: 8:00 AM – 11:00 PM
  • Saturday: 8:00 AM – 11:00 PM
  • Sunday: 8:00 AM – 10:00 PM

What To Eat

Hot Dog

DISH
Chili Cheese Dog

DISH

Gray’s Papaya Recipes

Discuss

What do you think of Gray’s Papaya?

One Response to “Gray’s Papaya”

Patricia Beninato

May 5th, 2008

Gray’s Papaya is an only-in-New York institution. Sure, you can go just about anywhere and find a hot dog, but Gray’s is unique. Unsuspecting tourists who wander into the place, particularly the midtown location down the street from Madison Square Garden, have been known to blanch and flee. Braver souls and those who want to experience good cheap eats Manhattan-style, however, crowd the place. Back in the eighties when I first started going to various Gray’s locations, there weren’t too many places near the hot clubs of the day where one could grab something quick to eat to soak up the overpriced alcohol after the clubs shut down at three in the morning. Gray’s, open twenty-four hours, fit that need nicely and still does.

The hot dogs are good even when you’re sober, with that almost crunchy crust that comes from skillful griddle cooking. I usually get mine with mustard and ketchup; if I feel I need a veggie of some sort I get sauerkraut on top. Although some people break with tradition and get a virgin pina colada or coconut champagne to go with their dogs, the purist will only ever get the papaya drink. It’s frothy and light and not too sweet, a levels-higher better version of that old mall mainstay Orange Julius. It’s not really a sit-down place although a couple of locations do offer seating, so everyone kind of stands around and eats and watches the ebb and flow of the crowd. Being New York, Gray’s gets some interesting characters, and the later you’re there the more … um … entertaining the crowd, shall we say. Since members of New York’s finest also crowd the place, however, there’s no trouble.

Once upon a time Gray’s attempted to branch out into Philadelphia. It didn’t work out, which wasn’t surprising. You might be able to take Gray’s Papaya out of New York, but you’ll never take New York out of Gray’s Papaya–and its many fans will be more than happy to tell you that.

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