(Original Upper East Side location on 86th Street @ 3rd Avenue)
I bet even if I hadn’t labeled this post, most New Yorkers would be able to name that pink P in the green… what do you call that shape? Cinched rectangle? The Papaya King sign is about as iconic to my New York as the statue of liberty. Oddly, though, I can’t remember the last time I ate here.
It’s an impossibly narrow storefront, but there are multiple doors, so if you can’t squeeze past the cowboy-hatted fellow pulling a wheeled suitcase, just step out into the sidewalk and go back in the next door, which is what I did, to wedge myself in at the counter between a police officer and a shady character with his hood pulled as far down over his face as he could manage. Once in place, I dined on a snappy hot dog with sauerkraut and a delicious papaya juice, the specialty combo of the house and, at $3 and change for the pair, an excellent deal. I’m not sure their papaya juice is as healthful as they proclaim, but it sure is an excellent accompaniment to a hot dog.
While I ate leaning against the narrow counter, I watched the buses, cabs, and sedans heading uptown reflecting bits & pieces of the neon glow of Papaya King’s awesome sign. My only complaint is that I wish this place was within lunch-break distance of my work. Well that, and that I wish they’d get rid of the little plastic thing on the left of the sign with the weird drawing. Pure neon is the way to go, my friends!
I left well satiated for my ensuing neon explorations up- and mid-town. Thanks, Papaya King—long may your sign glow onto the uptown-bound traffic of Third Ave.
(This photo is also from earlier this winter—I didn’t have time to wait for the sun to set last night!)