Gray's Papaya | 2090 Broadway (at 72nd St.) | 212.799.0243 | on MenuPages

IT JUST SO HAPPENED THAT I happened to be on the west side today, after joining the Facebook Fan Page for Gray's Papaya yesterday, so I walked a few extra blocks to have its famous "Recession Special", take some photos, and post them here on PHUDE.

Now having spent much of my formative youth going to grade/high school just a few blocks away—as well as having a very good friend who lived right off 72nd & Columbus—I have eaten here countless scores of times.

But having lived the last 24 years or so on the Upper East Side—and having the estimably equitable Papaya King just three blocks away from my place—it had been a while since I last stood in one of windows of Gray's Papaya's, a place so associated with New York City to have been plot-featured in both a Seinfeld episode and a Matthew Perry movie (and background-featured in hundreds more shows and movies), as well as honored on Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations television show.

I walk in and survey a place a little bigger and brighter than I last remember (which may have been in my early adult hood when I would hit this place on the way home from any variety of clubs or bars in the late a.m. hours of what was turning out to be the following day!), but I did remember what to order: two well done and a papaya.

Just as I remembered, drunk or sober! And, let's face it, there are a number of "hot dog and papaya juice" iterations scattered around the city. But this was my first and my favorite for so long, that the nostalgia alone makes up for the slight interior changes, and the bizarre additions to the menu, such as bagels and donuts, which make it less of the "specialty" shop it built an almost global reputation on.

Lucky enough for Gray's Papaya, someone made a Facebook Fan page for them, so other nostaligists can get decent sustenance on their memories as well....

Bun Apple Tea!