Papaya King and the Tourism Hype Machine

23 Feb
2013
Posted in: Food, New York
By    5 Comments

Anthony Bourdain likes Papaya King. Kramer likes Papaya King. Ted from How I Met Your Mother likes Papaya King. Everybody likes Papaya King. But will I like Papaya King? I do like hot dogs.

IMG_20130202_145736I liked the Mexican hot dogs I had in Tucson. I like Chicago-style hot dogs. I’ve liked the hot dogs I’ve eaten on the streets of New York. I pretty much always like hot dogs. But Papaya King? Meh.

Not that it’s a bad dog, but there’s just too much hype around the experience. It’s a hot dog, man. Just a hot dog. It’s not even wrapped in bacon or covered in sport peppers. Sure, I like sauerkraut and onions … but why’s the mustard by the door instead of at the end of the line where you get your dog? Why’s the place so damn narrow? There’s barely shoulder room, so why are there useless window-side counters? That’s precious space, why waste it?

And what’s the fascination with the papaya, really? I drank the juice. It was fine. Lisa almost spit hers out, but I got mine down. Not as sweet as I was expecting and a hell of a lot more foamy. Where’s that foam come from anyway?

I was expecting more. I shouldn’t have been. It’s a hot dog shack. It’s New York’s version of The Wiener’s Circle — a shithole that serves encased meat, just with juice instead of milk shakes. I left feeling not hungry, but I didn’t leave feeling amazing. I don’t know why I was expecting to be amazed. Maybe it was something I saw on TV.

At least it’s cheap.

  • http://twitter.com/scottsala Scott Sala

    Because when you’re wasted on the late night streets on NYC, it’s there. Open real late (not like 11 PM, but 3 AM), cheap when you’re broke after buying beer all night, and exactly what alcohol-induced bodies crave. Instant gratification. And you avoid social norms required by sitting down at service places. Because you’re wasted. In and out, quick, incognito, eat while stumbling down the street.

    • http://drivinginertia.com/ Paul David Olson

      … and the papaya fights off the hangover.

  • Dave Hahn

    It’s nothing like Wiener Circle dude. And it’s good enough, unpretentious, democratic(everyone eats there), fast and CHEAP. The dogs have snap to them – yeah, I’d like more toppings but that’s not what it’s about. And it used to be even cheaper – like 50 cents a dog. And of course, an amazing place to grab a bite after a concert or night of drinking. There’s not too much hype about it. No one is claiming it to be an amazing food experience. That’s like claiming Coney Island is an amazing boardwalk – it’s not, but it’s a cool place to hang out for a bit.

    • http://drivinginertia.com/ Paul David Olson

      Yeah. Probably built it up a bit too much in my mind. Never meet your heroes, right?

      • Dave Hahn

        Haha. Yeah… When a place can feed you when you’re broke and hungry time and time again. That’s why people love it.