When most non-New Yorkers hear "Upper West Side", I doubt a hot dog stand springs to mind as one of the neighborhood's prime dining destinations. But as I waited for J outside Gray's Papaya this evening, I discovered that this home of wieners has a following among grannies with walkers, lithe model types, young families, teenage boys and everyone in between. Frank Bruni's confessed his love for Gray's, as have Mario Batali and Anthony Bourdain.
The location at 72nd and Broadway is one of three outposts of Gray's on the west side of Manhattan and shouldn't be confused with rival Papaya King. On offer--hot dogs with your choice of mustard, onions or sauerkraut (you add the ketchup yourself) and various tropical drinks including banana daiquari, orange, grape, pina colada, and of course, papaya.
The recession special (or as I like to think of it, grad student special) gets you two hot dogs and small drink and sets you back a mere $3.50. The skinny dogs are nicely grilled with a slight smoky flavor, with a perfect bun to meat ratio. I highly recommend the onions and the mustard, with a smattering of ketchup on top. As for the papaya drink--it's nothing special--a gussied up kool-aid. At the 72nd Street branch, you can wander over to the benches outside the subway stop to enjoy your meal, or just gobble your frank in a few bites outside the restaurant's door.
2090 Broadway (at 72nd)