We Eat New York

Getting to know NYC, one restaurant at a time.

Papaya King

We were strolling through the East Village last weekend and walking through St. Marks Street when we stumbled upon Papaya King.

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It turns out, I should have known about this place before, because it is a New York institution.

Let’s go over it’s resume for a bit. Kings Papaya opened in 1932, so it has been around for a long time. They say they are the original. “Accept no imitations”. A Greek immigrant fell in love with tropical fruits and decided to start selling them to New Yorkers as juices (the birth of smoothies?). Then he fell in love with a German woman, so they decided to sell frankfurters in the tropical juice store as well. Weird combination, but it worked. It worked so well that this combination was replicated in other hot dogs stands, such as Gray’s Papaya, Papaya Heaven, Papaya Paradise, Papaya Place, Papaya Circle, Papaya World, Original Papaya, Mike’s Papaya or Papaya Jack. It became a New York institution.

Their first restaurant was on 86th Street (an area populated with German and Polish immigrants at the time), and that original store is still there. It was only in the 1960’s that it became “Papaya King”. Legend has it that a famous Brooklyn Dodger became addicted to Gus’ fare and coined the name. The name stuck and customers began to refer to the stands as the “Papaya King”, so the owner adopted the name. You can check out the full story here.

The East Village store, where we went, was actually opened in 2013. But its reputation is old. Julia Child, the queen of French cooking, said they served the “best hot dogs in New York”, Anthony Bourdain agrees. Critic Ed Levine of New York Eats went even further, calling it the “best hot dog in the world”. Martha Stewart named them one of her “guilty pleasures.” Zagat said it was the “best, cheapest (stand-up) lunch in the city” and “more vital than the subway.”

We had to walk in and give it a try. Luckily, it was around lunch time, and we were already hungry.

The idea is simple: it’s a hot dog, with a Frankfurter sausage, and you can choose unlimited toppings from this list: bacon, coleslaw, cheese sauce, chili, curly fries, hula hula, jalapenos, mushrooms, New York onions, onion crunch, onion rings, pastrami, peppers & onions, pickle chips, raw onions, relish, sauerkraut, sautéed onions. As you can see, they have a lot of options that involve onions. But, even if you’re like us and don’t really enjoy onions, you can still choose a bunch of other options.

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If you get confused and are unable to decide, they have some suggestions on combinations with cool names. My boyfriend got the hula hula, which is peppers, chili and pineapples:

 

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The frankfurter recipe goes somehow like this: beef seasoned with garlic, oregano, and other tasty spices. I chose my own combination, which included mushrooms, pastrami and pickles. Plus, of course, the mandatory ketchup and mustard. This should came as no surprise, but I really, really liked it.

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For drinks, they have, of course, the tropical juices. The very friendly guy that served us gave us a few options to try: papaya, of course, and coconut champagne.  They were a little too sweet for my taste, and I am not sure I completely enjoy the combination with the hot dogs, but it’s worth the try.

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We let the sweetness for this amazing desert:

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Any guess what this is? Fried Oreos! The best thing ever. Here’s how it looks inside:

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Really worth the calories!

The decor is pretty nice too. The East Village location is a concept store, so it’s supposed to reflect a historical and cultural crossroads in New York City’s East Village neighborhood. So the store has many of the classic elements that characterize the original store on the 86th Street location, along with additional items such as vintage arcade games, and a foosball table. In the front of the store there’s also a recessed patio area , widely referred to as “the stoop,” where customers and locals gather.

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And while you wait for your hot dog inside, you even have some reading material. They have some witty and funny sayings on hot dogs and such. But I must say, don’t believe everything you read. As a Brazilian, I never heard the expression they say we call hot dogs down there.
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It’s really worth the visit! They also cater for parties and a have a food truck now

IMG_5595.JPGPapaya King

Address: 3 St. Marks Place (between 2nd and 3rd Ave.) in the East Village

Zagat’s 2014 List of New York’s 100 Best Restaurants

Here’s Zagat’s list of the 100 best restaurants in New York, and where we currently stand:

1. Le Bernardin ✔

2. Bouley

3. Jean-Georges ✔

4. Gotham Bar & Grill

5. Eleven Madison Park ✔ see the review here

6.  Daniel

7.  Sushi Yasuda ✔

8. Gramercy Tavern ✔

9. Peter Luger Steak House

10.  La Grenouille

11.  Annisa

12. Sea Fire Grill

13. Per Se

14. Marea ✔

15. Benjamin Steakhouse

16. Tocqueville

17. Nobu

18. Union Square Cafe ✔

19. Mas (farmhouse)

20. Nougatine at Jean-Gerges ✔

21. The Little Owl

22. Pearl Oyster Bar

23. Estiatorio Milos ✔

24. Dovetail

25. Acquagrill

26. Tratoria L’incontro

27. Cafe Boulud ✔

28. Tamarind Tribeca ✔

29. Del Posto ✔

30. Taverna Kyclades

31. Barbuto

32. Blue Hill

33. Scalini Fedeli

34. Keens Steakhouse

35. Colicchio & Sons ✔

36. Craft ✔

37. Telepan ✔

38. River Café

39. Four Seasons

40. Morimoto ✔

41. Al di la Trattoria

42. Picholine ✔

43. Babbo Ristorante ✔

44. Aquavit ✔ see review here

45. Brushstroke

46. Sushi of Gari ✔

47. Porter House New York ✔

48. Aureole

49. ilili Restaurant ✔

50. Perry St

51. Ai Fiori ✔

52. Il Buco ✔

53. L’Artusi ✔

54. Mighty Quinn’s Barbeque

55. Asiate

56. The Modern ✔

57. Quality Meats ✔

58. The NoMad Restaurant ✔

59. Caracas Arepa Bar

60. 15 East Restaurant

61. ABC Kitchen ✔

62. Momofuku ssam bar ✔

63. Hearth

64. Scarpetta ✔

65. Maialino

66. SD26

67. Maloney & Porcelli

68. Felidia

69. Sparks Steak House ✔

70. RedFarm ✔

71. Osteria Morini

72. Boulud Sud ✔

73. Avra Estiatorio

74. Totto Ramen

75. David Burke Kitchen

76. BLT Prime

77. Il Mulino ✔

78. Old Homestead Steak House

79. Taim

80. Wolfgang’s Steakhouse

81. Buddakan

82. Buttermilk Channel

83. Kat’z Delicatessen

84. Smith & Wollensky ✔

85. Park Side

86. Alta

87. Ippudo ✔

88. Esca

89. Lincoln Ristorante ✔

90. Del Frisco’s Steakhouse ✔

91. Betony ✔

92. EN Japanese Brasserie

93. Riverpark

94. BLT Fish Shack

95. Di Fara Pizza

96. Oceana ✔

97. Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill ✔

98. Strip House

99. Ruth’s Chris Steak House

100. The Palm Restaurant

The 2015 will come soon. We know a few things that changed, such as Sushi Nakazawa being voted the best restaurant in NYC.

But we’ve been to 42 out of 100! That’s not so bad, right? What about you? How many have you been at?

 

 

Sushi Nakazawa

We love Japanese food. We go to Japanese places all the time, almost every weekend, and I have a dozen of recommendations of great places to eat good sushi in New York (such as Sushi Yasuda, Morimoto, Kyo Ya, Nobu 57, and Sushi of Gari, just to name a few). But I find it really hard to review them. When they serve rolls, it’s a little easier to explain what they do differently. But when they are limited to sushi, it’s about the fish, its freshness, and the chef’s touch. And I am not so good in describing that.

However, we recently went to Sushi Nakazawa. Sushi Nakazawa opened in New York a year ago, and it was the most anticipated opening of the year. It instantly became a hit, with reservations almost impossible to get. Chef Daisuke Nakazawa, who is only 36 years old, was one of the apprentices of Jiro Ono, the famous Japanese chef who owns a three-Michelin-starred restaurant called Sukiyabashi Jiro located inside a subway stop in Tokyo. Jiro is so famous he has his own documentary, Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Nakazawa appeared in “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”

The story goes like this: Alessandro Borgognone, the co-owner, a 33-year-old Staten Islander, became instantly obsessed when he watched the documentary. Jiro was already in the US, working in Seattle with another Jiro apprentice, when Borgognone did everything he could to convince him to come to New York. So the duo opened Sushi Nakazawa in my favorite neighborhood, the West Village last August.
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DC Special: José Andrés Tapas Crawl (Part II)

To continue our José Andrés tapas crawl (you can read the first part here)…

Part II – Oyamel

On the weekend, my boyfriend visited DC. He had already been to Zaytinya and Jaleo, and was very, very impressed by the chef. So I decided to take him to Oyamel, his Mexican restaurant. I was super excited, since he had been craving Mexican for weeks… But, I most say, I didn’t like it. The guacamole was good, it had a nice twist and I love it when they do the guacamole by the table. We had some tuna tartar which was also okay, but nothing special. But these two were the only two dishes that we remembered in the end.

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Oyamel

Address: 401 7th St NW, Washington, DC 20004

Phone: (202) 628-1005

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