Hot dog! New York’s Papaya King (4503 Paradise Rd., papayaking.com) has arrived in Las Vegas. And for those who know, you don’t accept imitations, because this place, specializing in one-of-a-kind franks and tropical drinks, reigns. In addition, the restaurant serves crispy curly fries, onion rings, fried pickles, fried Oreos, fried Twinkies, tater tots, knishes, chicken sandwiches and corn dogs. But how did a hot dog outfit get such a tropical name? Started by Gus Poulos from Greece, who arrived in Manhattan in the early 1920s with nothing but ambition, he transformed from deli worker to deli owner in just a few years. When Poulos took his first vacation, he fell in love with papayas and was discouraged when none could be found back in New York. But he figured out how to get them there and sold his deli to open the first juice bar in New York, called Hawaiian Tropical Drinks. Eventually, it was kismet that brought the frankfurter to his menu when he married his German bride. Legend has it that a famous Brooklyn Dodger became addicted to Poulos’ magical combination that he coined the name “Papaya King.” On top of good food and drinks, the folks at Papaya King are friendly, too! They cook their franks facing you so you don’t have to look at their backs while they prepare your order.
Rao’s is celebrating 10 years of award-winning and unforgettable Southern Neapolitan Italian cuisine in Las Vegas at Caesars Palace. The original Rao’s location opened its doors in 1896 as a local saloon and 10-table restaurant in East Harlem, New York, and is one of the oldest family-owned restaurants in the city. There have been subsequent Rao’s outposts opened in Las Vegas and Hollywood, as well. The Las Vegas iteration features a replica of the impenetrable 10-table hangout, along with a center bar and open-air patio. If you’re looking for a way to celebrate this decade milestone, go for the famed meatballs: two softball-size juicy spheres slathered with Rao’s signature marinara; since opening, Rao’s has served more than 500,000 of them! Or, go for Rao’s Classics, a multicourse meal on January 12. Rao’s co-owner Frank Pellegrino Jr. hosts this special dinner at Rao’s Caesars Palace ($150 per person, 6:30-9:30 p.m., limited seating available, call 702-731-7778).
Looking for a delicious new reason to get out of bed on Sunday morning? Standard & Pour (11261 S. Eastern Ave., Suite 200, standardandpourlv.com) has jumped into the Sunday Brunch game with its Mimosas, Muffins & Marys affair. Available from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Sunday, offerings from executive chef Jake Dieleman include sweet and savory brunch specialties, such as steak and eggs, bacon and egg polenta, muffins and gravy, Fat Elvis French toast and the Real Big Muffin—a hefty two-pounder made with almonds, lemon and blueberry that is made for sharing. To round out the experience, guests can indulge in bottomless mimosas and the unlimited, ultimate Bloody Mary experience that includes a choice of a signature concoction from the bar or a build-your-own with Bloody Mary master and blogger, Tracee Meyers of The Wasted Tomato. Additionally, smooth tunes from a live DJ will ease you right into Sunday.