Welcome to New York City. Have you heard we have bagels?
That’s the sort of energy you feel when you line up with the tourists on Houston Street waiting to place their bagel orders at Russ & Daughters. We fully endorse becoming a groupie of this legendary Jewish deli and appetizing shop. Russ & Daughters is one of a limited number of NYC tourist traps worth the line, and it's equally worth visiting if you happen to live here already.
Since opening in 1914, Russ & Daughters has modernized the look of their old-school counter (thanks to the help of the design-inclined grandkids of the original owners, who now run the place). Charming font and staff wearing white laboratory coats aside, you still won’t find any seats at Russ & Daughters. If you’re hoping for a sit-down meal, head to the cafe on Orchard Street.
The Russ & Daughters bagel experience should not take place without smoked fish. We repeat: You must order a bagel with some sort of fish topping, or at least a side of their excellent hot-smoke-cold-smoke salmon combination dip to dunk your bagel into. The near-translucent nova at this Lower East Side appetizing institution is sliced so fine that a puppet master could use it as a backdrop for casting shadows. Russ & Daughters staff expertly layer the soft, pliable fish drapery onto sturdy bagels. These chewy bagels, which are comparatively small, act as the ideal mattress for all of the toppings.
We usually stick with an everything bagel (not toasted, who do you think we are?) with belly lox and the works (i.e., cream cheese, tomato, onion, capers). But when we’re feeling saucy, we sometimes mess around with the Fancy Delancey (smoked tuna with horseradish dill cream cheese and neon green wasabi flying fish roe) or the pastrami-cured salmon.
Half sour or bust. Send us an email if you're looking to fight about this.
You'll see a bunch of dried fruit in the window while you're waiting to get into Russ & Daughters. Will it remind you of snack mix at your aunt's condo? Maybe. But that's part of the charm. The apricots are good, as are the dried strawberries. You definitely don't need to opt into these, but they're fun and old-timey, and we appreciate Russ & Daughters offering them.