Papaya King ~ Hollywood
1645 N. Wilcox Avenue
Hollywood, California 90028
Hours: 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. daily
We waited and waited and waited for the infamous Papaya King to arrive in our former Hollywood neighborhood for sooooo long. So when we learned (via Twitter) that the only location outside of New York City was officially open, we were totally ready to dive into hot dog and tropical drink paradise.
Nervous about grand opening week crowds, we cruised by the prime location (just south of Hollywood Boulevard on Wilcox Avenue) on a sunny afternoon and were surprised that the line was actually reasonable. We found a parking space,* hopped out of the car and quickly took our place in the nine-people deep queue.
First off, the place is teeny, tiny at just 400 square feet, so expect to feel a little cramped at best and a lot claustrophobic at worst. Also, there is NO seating inside the shop, so be prepared to get everything to go. There are benches around the neighborhood to sit and eat, or do as New Yorkers do and just eat on the go.
As we approached the front of the line it was time to make some decisions. What kind of dog were we going to try? We were tempted to try one of the six classic combos (which include a tropical drink and curly fries), but then decided to go our own route with a specialty dog, the C&C (that’s chili and cheese frank for you n00bs), a classic frankfurter with “Kraut” and, of course, a cup of the infamous papaya tropical drink.
All of that was just $7.00—a great deal for a quick meal in the heart of Hollywood.
As aforementioned, the place is TINY, so after you order you’ll have to make your way through the crowd to the pick-up counter. Luckily, the service was outstanding and our order came up in just a few quick minutes.
Loaded down with our dogs and drink, we tried to make it to the mustard and condiment counter, but there were just too many people lolling about, so we skipped it—but not before noticing that one of their mustard offerings is Oregon-based Beaver Brand mustard. Go Beaverton!
Once home, we whipped open the Styrofoam container (why are people still using that crap?!) and gazed at our completely smothered and gloriously, delicious looking hot dogs. We devoured the C&C first, with the chili and melted cheese dripping down over our fingers with each bite. The classic Kraut dog was a little on the mild side, but still snappy and easy on the taste buds.
The only complaint was that the tropical papaya drink was a little too warm, but we’ll chalk that up to grand opening week issues rather than any ongoing problem.
Unlike the NYC originals, the Hollywood location of Papaya King is operated by sbe, the parent company behind many of the HOT AND HAPPENIN’ H’wood nightclubs, hotels and restaurants (like Katsuya, the Redbury Hotel and XIV Summer Sessions), so it should come as no surprise that Papaya King serves as the “secret” entrance to sbe’s brand new, ultra exclusive lounge The Sayers Club. Rumor has it that it’s basically impossible to get into the club if you’re not on The List, but it’s kinda fun that a fun, cheap hot dog shop serves as the masked entrance to what should be L.A.’s most envied nightlife destination this summer.
Overall, Papaya King is worth checking out if you’re visiting the Hollywood area of LA. The staff is beyond friendly and it’s a fun and filling meal with a small price tag—after all, if you’re in Hollywood, you might want to save some cash to do some major shopping!
Pros: Tasty hot dogs, lots of toppings to pick from, a variety of flavorful tropical juices, quick service, reasonable prices and open late night.
Cons: Line can get long at peak eating hours, no seating inside the shop and it’s 957 miles away now that we’re back in PDX.
*Tip: If you are making a day trip to Hollywood, park in the lot at Hollywood and Highland Center where, with validation, you get four hours of parking for just $2! Major deal!