Friday, January 25, 2008

Postcards from New York 1: Gray's Papaya


I'm in my ho(s)tel room - and at least I have a room of my own! The drive was uneventful, though I wonder if it was worth the money to go through the extra trouble of driving to a New Jersey Transit parking structure (Metropark), taking the NJ Transit into NY Penn Station, and then getting lost on the goddamned subway. Ah yes, the subway. I wish NYC's was more like DC's or London's or Mexico City's. Those metros are not terribly confusing, even for the uninaugurated (and if it's London, a little help is always nice). But get on the wrong train in New York's subway and you end up in Queens or Brooklyn when you needed to Uptown Manhattan (or even the Bronx).

At least I had a snack beforehand. I was searching for a cheap and quick bite, and was torn between pizza and a hot dog. I wound up going to the Gray's Papaya at 37th and 8th near Penn Station (check out this post about the 71st Street location). Most of the hot dog-eating portion of New York swears up and down this is the best hot dog in the city. And I have to admit it was pretty good.

I ordered their "recession special": 2 dogs and a 14 oz. drink. The guy behind the counter, backed by all sorts of colorful, Caribbeany signs about how great their hot dogs and their drinks are. Then someone asked if I wanted such-and-such on it. I had no idea what he said, but on a leap of faith I assumed what he asked was the typical order, so I just said "Yeah." The drink I got was a tasty orange drink (by default they suggest papaya, which I read in one of the above links isn't that great).

But the hot dogs were tasty. By themselves they are okay. By itself, the toppings - sauerkraut and a special onion relish - are okay. Together they are quite good. I wouldn't rapture over it the way the folks do up here, but I would certainly eat it again. And for the price? Damn, there is a reason why they call it the "recession special".

The dog at Gray's Papaya is perhaps the best I've had in the New York area (yes, that indeed includes Rutt's Hut - see the post after next). I thought the hot dog cart across the street was unfortunately placed, to say the least, until I noticed it was a hot dog-turned-halal falafel cart


Anonymous said...

I remember going to Gray's years ago. Every city has it's own version of what is the best hot dog. And I am definitely open to trying all. Sounds like a great trip except for the overpriced latkes.

John said...

I have to agree with that. When I lived in SoCal there was Pink's Hot Dogs, which is locally famous. Here I'd say it's Polock Johnny's, which sells hot dogs and Polish sausages.

It just dawned on me that this isn't the nicest name for a business.