From Our Editors
Fresh papaya juice and a New York hot dog—an unconventional pairing even by today's standards, much less the 1930s, when Papaya King founder Gus Poulos first opened up shop. Gus fell in love with papayas during a vacation to Miami, so he brought their fresh juice to New York City. When he paired the juice with frankfurters, the success that followed caught everyone by surprise. Over the decades, everyone from The Beatles to Anthony Bourdain has wandered into Papaya King. Its signature franks have also garnered ample accolades from the press, with Julia Child proclaiming them "the best hot dogs in New York" before leaving a Julia Child-shaped hole in the eatery's wall.
It's still easy to find Papaya King today. Just look for a large storefront lit up with neon green and red lights that would seem right at home on an island. Inside, cooks grill while facing customers so that they can show off the 18 toppings, which span standbys like New York onions and sauerkraut, as well as more adventurous choices of coleslaw, pastrami, mushrooms, and chili.