Is Papaya King on 86th Street and Third Avenue and has a rich history in NYC.
Baseball season is upon us and it got me thinking about what is the best hot dog in NYC? I have tried hot dogs all over the city and I think Papaya King is the winner. In 1923 a man named Constantine Poulos immigrated from Greece and ended up in New York City. Poulos found work at a deli. He worked there for several years before purchasing the deli. In 1932 Poulos took a trip to Cuba and discovered a Papaya juice that he fell in love with. When he returned to NYC he was unable to find papaya so he figured out a way to import the fruit to New York. He then decided to sell the deli and open up Hawaiian Tropical Drinks on 86th Street and Third Avenue. In many ways he was the pioneer in juice bars. The tropical juice was a big hit and Poulos opened up other locations. In 1939 Poulos began serving hot dogs at Hawaiian Tropical Drinks. The location of the first Hawaiian Tropical Drinks was in an area known as Yorkville. Yorkville was an area largely populated by German and Polish people and wurst was a very popular food . The addition of hot dogs to Poulos’s juice bar was in keeping with the wurst sold and consumed by people who lived in Yorkville. While seeming to be a very strange combination the papaya juice and hot dog actually go quite well together.
Apparently the name Papaya King was not coined until the 1960’s when a famous Brooklyn Dodger who loved the juice and hot dogs began calling the place “Papaya King”. The name stuck and eventually the place was renamed Papaya King. There have been many imitators but the original is still the best. The hot dog is made with a secret recipe as are the sweet onions that are a must on top. The hot dog has the perfect snap with lots of garlic, salt and spice and is delicious with the soft white bun. You can of course eat the hot dog with mustard or ketchup, or both. Add some sauerkraut if you wish but I highly suggest it with just the sweet, tangy tomato based onions. I am not alone when I say that it is the best hot dog; Julia Child who was a huge fan of hot dogs rated it the “best hot dog in New York” in 1990.
So if you live in New York or are visiting from somewhere I strongly urge you to make a stop at this iconic storefront on 86th and Third.I remember coming here in the 1970’s with my grandparents. We would walk down 86th street and grab a hot dog and then visit some of the other stores in Yorkville like the one that sold beautiful marzipan which has now closed. While the neighborhood changes around it and big buildings are replacing smaller storefronts Papaya King remains the same and thank goodness it does. I now stroll down 86th street with my daughter to grab a hot dog before going to Whole Foods. Eating a hot dog here while sipping the tropical juice is quintessential New York and something I hope never changes.
Success! You're on the list.
Whoops! There was an error and we couldn't process your subscription. Please reload the page and try again.
As a Chef there is nothing I like more than to peruse the aisles in a food store. I find that every store and neighborhood has its own unique character. When traveling, I especially love wandering in local markets to get a taste of the culture. People connect through food and I find that you can learn a lot about different cultures by studying the food they eat. I will pretty much eat anything, or at least try it, except for the time I went to a traditional Japanese restaurant with my Dad and he insisted on ordering the special called Namako even though he had no idea what it was in English. He promised it would be good and pushed the Chef to serve it to us even after he had tried to dissuade us. What we received was a beautiful plate with five raw sea slugs on it. I literally thought they were suctioned to the plate. Now, Namako is a delicacy in Japan but I had to say “no, thank you” and Dad was left on his own to eat those slugs as to not insult the Chef. So I guess the lesson here is to at least have an idea what you’re ordering before your order it. By the way, Dad to this day swears they were delicious….
I do love to experiment with different flavors and spices. If I see something I have never seen before I get excited thinking about how I can incorporate it into a recipe. My husband, Mark, often doesn’t understand how much time I can spend in a market but honestly I just really love it. There are so many different types of food that gives you an endless source of ingredients for new and exciting recipes. Of course they’re not all winners but there’s knowledge in failure too. So if a dish doesn’t turn out the way I want it to I just try again.
Having been cooped up in my apartment for a bit too long I decided to pay a visit to Eataly located on 23rd and Fifth in NYC. Upon entering the store I began to swoon over the beautiful displays of Italian cookies, pastries, cheeses and meats. I took my time and walked slowly through the store while the aromas and sights brought back many memories of my visits to Italy. I chatted with the lovely gentleman making fresh mozzarella as he handed me one that he knew was going to be perfect then I walked over to the woman making fresh pasta and I was immediately struck by the tiny cacio e pepe raviolini that had just been prepared. Hmmm, cacio e pepe stuffed inside of pasta? That sounded delicious and interesting. I decided that had to be dinner that night. A sauce prepared with diced chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, shallots and a touch of cream would be perfect with the cacio pepe pasta. The pepper and cheese would definitely shine through a recipe like this. This would be a perfect dinner: Antipasto platter; fresh mozzarella, tomato and basil; and the cacio pepe pasta. Oh and a big plate of their tomato focaccia to compliment the antipasto and dip into the pasta sauce.
I love Fall in New York City. One of my favorite things to do is take a long walk through Central Park, around the reservoir and end up on 59th Street and Fifth Avenue. Central Park is such a beautiful spot in NYC. The juxtaposition of the tall buildings with the greenery of the park is so special to look at. Watching the seasons change in the park is incredible. The view changes according to the time of year but each view is equally as beautiful as the others.
On Sunday I was lucky enough to stroll through the park with my daughter Olivia. The weather was just warm enough and we knew that after the the long walk we would be ready for a delicious brunch before a little midtown shopping. It is so nice to escape the noise of New York and be able to take in a little nature and peace and quiet. The sky was so blue and I just loved the way it reflected off the water of the reservoir.
After our walk, we had brunch at Benoit on 55th Street owned by celebrated Chef Alain Ducasse. Benoit is so beautiful; creamy walls with bright red accents and brass fixtures give an elegant Parisian feel to the dining room. There is also a very nice separate bar area that is currently closed but is definitely worth a visit once it reopens again. The brunch menu at Benoit has a nice variety of brunch and lunch items. I chose the Eggs Norwegian: Poached Eggs with Smoked Salmon and Hollandaise Sauce. I always order the hollandaise on the side so the eggs aren’t soaked in sauce. Olivia ordered Croque Monsieur; open-faced grilled cheese with béchamel. We of course had to have french fries as well. The Croque Monsieur was delicious, the cheese was browned perfectly on top which added the perfect crunch to the creamy béchamel. I love Sunday brunch, it always feels so luxurious to linger over a meal in the middle of the afternoon.
After our delicious, leisurely lunch Olivia and I decided to head over to Zara on 51st and Fifth. We were both in the mood to buy something new. Zara has a great line for Fall. Lots of gray and beige. Beautiful, easy to wear, Fall clothing. Liv was feeling chilly so she decided to check out the hats. She happens to look terrific in hats so it was difficult to choose. Which one do you like better?
They also had some very pretty scarves for the Fall and Winter. My favorite was the blue cashmere or the gray knit. I think either would make a great gift for the Holidays. We left with some bags full of goodies to try on at home since the dressing rooms are currently closed at Zara. They also have a great website to order online. Returns are very easy as well. All in all a great day in NYC.
Sitting in the beautiful limestone mansion located on 81st street off of Fifth Avenue you can’t help but be transported to an earlier period of time. This neo-Renaissance building was built in 1902 by J.C Lyons as a single family six story home. It is now the home of Sistina restaurant. Sistina was located on second avenue for 33 years before moving to the new space on 81st street. It is here that Sistina is dishing out wonderful Italian food with understated, professional service.
Our evening began with cocktails as we read over the menu which includes a nice variety of options to suit any palate. The waiter approached the table before we had decided on our dinner to impeccably recite what must have been no less than fifteen specials for the evening. I was immediately impressed that during these difficult times Sistina is able to offer such a wide variety of specials. The list ended with a showing of beautiful white truffles that were being featured that evening. We are now in Truffle season and I will be reviewing them but not in this post. I have a standing annual Truffle tradition with my best friend so you will be hearing about that shortly.
At Sistina I ordered the Grilled Octopus to start which was served with roasted peppers, capers and white beans. The octopus was cooked perfectly tender and the flavors balanced well with each other. For my entree I ordered the Branzino al Sale, which is European bass cooked in a salt crust. This is a wonderful way to prepare fish since the salt crust holds in the flavor of the sweet, flaky fish. We also shared the Veal Tortelloni served with black truffles. I am still dreaming about this pasta. The evening ended with a celebratory Soufflé for my dear friend’s birthday. We left feeling so satisfied sharing a wonderful evening with friends and great food.
So if you are looking for an escape to an earlier time I would suggest Sistina. If you go, spend a moment looking around the inside and outside of the space. The detail on the facade is exquisite and a fine representation of early 20th century architecture in NYC.
For a special treat head on over to Kappo Masa on Madison Avenue for some of the most delicious a la carte sushi on the Upper East Side. This restaurant is located sub-level under the Gagosian Gallery. After descending the modern staircase you encounter a grand floral arrangement that fills the entrance floor to ceiling. It is the perfect touch of minimal, luxurious decor that sets the tone for the meal that you are about to have. The room is decorated in medium toned wood and toffee colored leather seating. There is a circular sushi bar that can fit about 10 but is not currently open due to Covid. My husband, Mark, and I settled into a cozy corner and were so happy to be in such a tranquil, beautiful place after a long week. Our server immediately came over and we ordered drinks before deciding on food. I highly recommend the ‘Cucumber in a Rice Field’ cocktail. It is a cucumber sake martini that has the perfect balance of flavors. The service is professional and friendly and they never rush you. Dining at Kappo Masa is an experience that satisfies all your senses. I always leave here feeling peaceful and satisfied.
We have been dining at Kappo Masa for several years and we are so happy that they have reopened. Their menu is much smaller than pre-covid but every dish is expertly prepared and the quality of sushi is exemplary. We order a la carte here but you can certainly order Omakase. Some menu standouts are the Duck and Foie Gras Tacos, Chicken Dumplings with Cilantro, Masa Toro Tartare Caviar, Grilled Asparagus Goma Ae and the Sushi. Some of my suggested menu choices are not currently available but I was assured by the Manager that they will be adding items back. No worries, the dishes they do offer are great. They also offer a special take out menu for those who wish to dine at home.
Daniel, owned by the incredible Chef Daniel Boulud on East 65th street, is one of my most favorite restaurants in the world. I have celebrated many wonderful occasions here including many birthdays. The food, service and atmosphere never disappoint. I was so impressed with how beautiful the dining room looked even at 25% capacity mandated by NY. Walking into the restaurant was like walking into a botanical garden. We couldn’t wait to try the new ‘Boulud Sur Mer’ menu
To start, I ordered the Octopus which was fantastic. For the entree, Kara and I had the Pompano Fish encrusted in salt for two. The server displayed the beautiful fish before expertly filleting it table side. A light sauce accompanied the fish. To compliment the fresh fish we chose an elegant Daou chardonnay which is produced by my friend in Pasa Robles, California. For dessert, we opted for a cheese assortment with a glass of Sauternes that paired perfectly. Oh, and you mustn’t forget the warm madeleines that they spoil you with after dessert.
Thank you Daniel and your amazing staff for transporting us to the South of France, even if it was for just an evening. You brought back many wonderful memories so I had to also post the pic of us from my birthday in 2019. I can’t wait to return to celebrate more occasions.
Success! You're on the list.
Whoops! There was an error and we couldn't process your subscription. Please reload the page and try again.