Some of the quintessential New York City foods? Pizza, bagels, and hot dogs. There’s about 4,000 places to get a hot dog while you’re in one of the five boroughs, and each of these places has its own fan base. One of these places is Gray’s Papaya, a 24-hour hot dog restaurant located on the Upper West Side.
If Gray’s Papaya sounds familiar, it’s because it always seems to be the hot dog restaurant mentioned in television and movies. One of the famous “hot dog scenes” involves Matthew Perry’s character being gifted a box of Gray’s dogs by Salma Hayek’s character in “Fools Rush In.”
Gray’s Papaya is known for their Recession Special – two dogs and a drink, with tax included in the price. I don’t really ever crave hot dogs, but I figured I would take part in the special, because reasons. I made my way over on a Friday night.
A true New Yorker doesn’t use ketchup on a hot dog, or something. I know, there are a ton of food rules about what “real New Yorkers” eat. I went with plain dogs with onions, and a papaya drink. Gray’s is small, and there is no place to sit. Fortunately, there is a bar area against the window where you can stand to eat.
The dogs were decent, but I don’t know that they’re worth all of the hype. They just didn’t have much flavor to them, and it was a chore to get through two. In a city with millions of food choices, “decent” doesn’t really cut it. The papaya drink was super sweet, but really good. It reminded me of the Orange Julius stands at the mall. The Recession Special is a decent deal ($5.95), and if you’re looking for a really cheap date (no shame here), this would be a pretty good spot. I think I’ll stick with the food carts in the future though.