After a sausage tease last week, Papaya King, the popular New York hot dog and tropical juice chain finally lifted the draw bridge on its first West Coast outpost at 1645 Wilcox, just south of Hollywood this morning.
New York transplants already loyal to the King are familiar with the menu of tropical juices (mango, papaya, pina colada) and franks, which are dressed with an array of toppings like slaw, chili, relish, and New York onions (a comforting red concoction of tomato paste, onions, and vinegar.) Dogs ($2.25) can be custom topped, or there is an offering of specialty dogs ($2.50-$3.75), including the Musher (served with sauteed onions and mushrooms) and the Slawdog (self-explanatory, but with pickles), both of which proved popular among Angelenos during the short-lived reign of the Papaya King truck, which ran in advance of the brick-and-mortar opening. The storefront also offers knishes and curly fries, which were not available on the wiener mobile.
Our 10:30 a.m. visit was a little early for massive hot dog consumption, but the slaw had the proper sweetness; the white bread buns were fresh and chewy; and the long, thin dogs had the savory snappiness that we recall from late night Manhattan Papaya King adventures. Papaya juice was sweet, creamy, and a pretty perfect morning libation.
The L.A. outpost resembles the New York branches with bright yellow and red signage proclaiming sausage dominance ("Our Frankfurters are tastier than Filet Mignon") and a window on to the grill, so diners can watch the dogs being grilled and topped and the juices being prepared. There's no seating and only a limited number of small counters where visitors can stand while downing their dogs.
SBE, the nightlife powerhouse that helped bring Papaya King to the left coast, staged a soft opening this weekend, importing staff from New York to train the L.A. newbies (hot dogs on the left grill, white bread buns on the right.) All of the products--buns, dogs, condiments, juices--are also being brought in from New York. The grills were only turned on for several hours over the weekend, so the first official business this morning was a trio of L.A.'s finest, from the nearby Hollywood Community Station who said they had been waiting since May 18, the originally announced opening date, for their first taste of Papaya King. Their orders? Three C&C dogs (chili and cheese) and curly fries.
Papaya King is open 11 a.m. - 3 a.m. every day, though a rep for SBE said that with its nearby club Eden open till 4 a.m. on some nights, that may be adjusted.
For more pictures, turn the page...