This post is the first of a new occasional series on Taster Tots. Snack Time! covers spots where we stop to refuel, where it’s often more about the fun rather than the need to sit and eat an actual, proper meal. It also means I get to write about our favorite bakeries, cafes, ice cream shops and such. These pieces will be quick and dirty, which happens to mirror some essential qualities of kid snack time.
First up: Papaya King in Hollywood, that freshest of NYC transplants. Its arrival in Los Angeles apparently merited coverage in the New York Times by the vaunted (and relatively new) L.A. correspondent.
Our family doesn’t have much attachment to Papaya King — my husband is more of a Gray’s Papaya guy anyway — but since we pass by the corner of Hollywood and Wilcox practically every day, I couldn’t resist a stop. Besides, 3:00 in the afternoon is one of the more optimal times to check Papaya King out. The Art Deco facade (most recently containing the Cuban restaurant/club Paladar) is an appropriate shell and urban architectural stylistic contrast of old vs. new/fake old for this compact hot dog and juice stand, even if the staging and production design quality is obvious. My kid wearing his 1 Train t-shirt could have been a prop. It doesn’t take much to make this space feel crowded. I can only imagine the crush of humanity in here at 2 a.m. on a weekend when Hollywood becomes Clubland. If you want to activate a sidewalk in Hollywood with lots of people, then building a guaranteed-to-be-popular fast food joint without indoor seating (or any seats at all, really) is one way to do it.
The boys enjoyed the festive balloons, neon lights and Papaya King’s bright color scheme. They gladly shared (yes, they ACTUALLY shared for once!) a mild papaya juice and wickedly salty, seasoning-coated curly fries, which frankly, reminded me of my last meal at Jack n’ the Box. Hot dogs sizzling on the griddle come with a variety of set toppings, all loudly listed on the menu that doubles as mural. (We’ll get around to more food some time soon.) SBE’s association with this franchise will cause many an to eye roll, as mine initially did. However, any claim to authenticity would be ridiculous to begin with, plus Nazarian’s operation knows Hollywood. Yet the concept isn’t exactly original for this neighborhood; homegrown Skooby’s has been maintaining its streamlined hot dog, fries and lemonade routine just around the corner for many years now. And let’s not forget the Hollywood classic (and relocated) Juices Fountain.
Let the next phase of the Los Angeles hot dog and juice wars begin!
1645 Wilcox Avenue, Hollywood
Cuisine: American/Hot Dogs/ Juices
Hours: Late! (TBD)