Sep 2009

Russ and Daughters – New York City


My first mission during a recent week-long stay in New York City was to get my grubby little hands on some proper bagels, lox, and cream cheese, preferably all three smooshed together in sandwich form. There’s something about the combination of hearty carbohydrates paired with creamy fat and salty protein that I find immensely satisfying. I’d eat these three items every morning if I could.


Russ and Daughters has been perfecting the art of Jewish appetizing in Manhattan’s Lower East Side since 1914. Among American Jews residing in New York City, “appetizing” is used as a noun by itself to refer to the foods eaten with bagels.


The small, standing room only shop sells chocolates and baked goods in addition to an eye-catching array of dairy and “pareve” (neither dairy nor meat) appetizing. While I was taken aback by the fluorescent quality of the fish roe, The Astronomer was surprised by the availability of tofu-based cream cheeses. The air was thick with the wonderful smell of smoked fish; I wanted to eat everything in sight.


On our first visit to Russ and Daughters, The Astronomer and I shared a plain bagel with Norwegian salmon, capers, and a schmear of decadent caviar cream cheese ($9.45). The caviar-laden spread, which cost us two extra bucks, earned its keep with each savory pop. The characteristically chewy bagel matched the filling in greatness.


On trip number two to Russ and Daughters the following day, The Astronomer and I shared an everything bagel with lox cream cheese ($3.45). ‘Tis impossible to go wrong with smoked salmon and cream cheese married into one spread. Impossible.

On my short list of perfect meals, the Jewish-American triple threat of smoked fish, bagels, and cream cheese ranks near the top. Truly, only a superb Asian noodle soup and a well-crafted banh mi can dare to compete with this thoroughly delicious package.

Russ and Daughters
179 East Houston Street
New York, NY 10002
Phone: 212-475-4880

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10 thoughts on “Russ and Daughters – New York City

  1. That sounds absolutely fabulous.

    Years ago there was a bagel bakery in Charleston that made everything from scratch every single morning. They happened to be on my walk to work, so my colleague and I stopped every day. We got one hot bagel (fresh out of the oven!!!) for breakfast and a bagel sandwich for our pockets/lunch. It was the most amazing thing to be able to have really, really fresh bagels all the time.

    If one thing made me want to live in NY, that would be it.

  2. Yes, I’m comment #4 (my favorite number)!!!

    I love bagels, though don’t eat them nearly as much as I did when I lived off them in college. I do make exceptions for Bagel Broker’s sesame babies, though never with any fish-type items. I suspect they do have them there (in fact I’m almost postitivityovitive), but I like my bagels with either hummus and veggies or peanut butter. No appetizing for me!

  3. I love Russ and Daughters. Everytime I visit NYC I must, must go there for cream cheese and smoked salmon bagel. Since I have moved out West, I haven’t been in a while. Looks like I need to schedule a visit, if just to try the caviar cream cheese.

  4. That caviar cream cheese is just divine. R&D’s appetizings uphold traditional Ashkenazi cuisine from its long descent into mediocrity. Yet last week, when I was back in NY for work and staring at the institution, I opted for Porchetta’s vaunted sandwich, which was also amazing.

  5. I had a strange experience at Russ & Daughters today. I bought a 1/4 pound of lox in the afternoon..but when I went to taste it an hour or so later at home.. I found it to be tasteless and not at all smokey! I don’t live far from them so I took it back to see if I could change it for another with some taste and smokiness to it! But the guy I dealt with..who is a grandson, he said..and was also the SAME person who sliced and sold me the lox earlier..was really wierd about it. When I told him what the problem was..he said, “Didn’t you taste it when you were buying it”?. I said, “No, you didn’t give me a taste when I was buying it..otherwise I would have known right then that it wasn’t up to par”. He was very condescending and in the end. said that if I wanted to pick out something else I was free to do so..[meaning I’d have to pay for it]..because he wasn’t going to take back the lox I’d brought back to exchange. I was SHOCKED! This is how the great Russ & Daughters treats a customer who dares to return something because they are dissatisfied?..and I was only asking to get another kind of lox..NOT a refund! Also I had only tasted 1 piece of it was amost the full 4 ounces that I was trying to exchange. When I told him that I was shocked at how I was being treated..he said, “You’re lucky my grandfather wasn’t serving you”!!?? which point he opened the door and showed me out..[they were closing by that time].
    Unbelievable!! I would never go back!

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