Russ and Daughters Press
City Secrets: New York City
September 1, 2003
Edited by Robert Kahn
Writer David Barr Katz reveals Russ & Daughters to be one of his favorite places in New York. Begin at Houston (pronounced HOW-stun) and Orchard, which used to be the center of the Lower East Side when its boundaries extended north to 14th Street. Now Houston and Orchard is the northenmst part of the LES.
Though there is no official signpost, two neon fish glowing over 179 East Houston Street can serve as you markers. They’re perpetually swimming over Russ & Daughters, the last of the best of the smoked fish and delicacy stores that used to dot the neighborhood. Though the space has remined small and unassuming, Russ & Daughters’ selection and quality make stores like Zabar’s and Dean & DeLuca look like, as my grandmother would say, “tey don’t know from fish.”
The place is a true microcosm of the LES, with Latin countermen who can banter with the customers in Spanish-laced Yiddish (Spiddish) and the owner of the store, Mark Russ Federman, who own and manages it all with his Colombian wife, Maria. More Jews swear by their whitefish salad than they do the Torah. Order a bagel to go, or get a few pounds of Gaspe salmon packed in ice and a tub of their incomparable whipped cream cheese. With one foot in 1900 and another in the present, you can grab an old-fashioned licorice whip and a cappuccino as you walk out the door.”