By Ava Stryker-Robbins
The Upper West Side is lucky to have a wide range of fabulous restaurants. There are world-renowned Michelin-star destinations, small “holes in the wall” with incredible food, chains, and popular neighborhood joints. There are so many types of food, from all corners of the globe. But one staple of American dining is often overlooked. Hot dogs are delicious, inexpensive, and importantly, filling. And what better place to buy them than the UWS’s long-standing treasure, Gray’s Papaya?
They have a standing table outside that overlooks Broadway. At night, it is beautiful to see streetlights and people, while munching on one of the few Upper West Side dishes that is older than nearly all the people who eat it. Gray’s Papaya offers a wide range of condiments: mustard, onions, sauerkraut, chile, cheese, relish, and ketchup. The frank and toppings nest comfortably inside a warm bun. This quick—yet delicious—meal is even better when paired with a sweet and refreshing papaya juice.
The restaurant was opened 49 years ago by founder Nicholas Gray and has stood strong ever since. When it first opened, a hot dog cost only 50 cents. Now a hot dog and a papaya juice cost $4.50. Gray’s Papaya is an integral part of the Upper West Side, and attracts tourists from around the world. Though the experience of purchasing and consuming a hot dog may often seem insignificant, at Gray’s Papaya it is unforgettable.
The Dish: Hot Dog and Papaya Juice
The Restaurant: Gray’s Papaya (2090 Broadway at 72nd Street)