Russ and Daughters Press

Rough Guide's 25 Ultimate Experiences 2007

June 1, 2007

The long tick-list is staring you in the face. Overstuffed pastrami sandwich at Katz’s Deli. Foot-long Nathan’s hot dog out at Coney Island. Eight-course tasting menu costing a couple of hundred of dollars at Jean Georges, or Per Se, or Gramercy Tavern. Soup dumplings costing next to nothing at any number of Chinatown holes-in-the-wall. Brunch at an impossibly cute West Village café. The bistro burger, washed down with a $2 McSorley’s, at Corner Bistro. Then again, this is why you came to New York. But there’s one grave omission, one that may well be the quintessential New York dish. And it’s got everything to do with the water. At least that’s what they say: a crusty yet chewy New York bagel, first boiled in that water before being baked, is just better because of it. Whether that comes near to the truth, no snack is more a symbol of the city than a bagel with crea cheese, piled high with lox (smoked salmon), and a few slices of tomato and red onion, perhaps some capers for effect. You can find bagels nearly everywhere, of course, and many claim to be the best, but no one does it quite like Russ and Daughters. It’s not a restaurant or diner but an “appetizing” store, family-owned to boot, and they’ve spent four generations brining, baking, whipping and generally perfecting the art of righteous Jewish food. It’s mostly known for its smoked fish, and you can’t go wrong with any of their salmon offerings (or their whitefish or sable, for that matter). But the salty belly lox, cured rather than smoked, may be most toothsome of all their fishy delights. Lay it over their own homemade, soul-satisfying cream cheese, smeared on a garlic bagel, also made in-house, and you’ve got the best accompaniment to a cup of coffee and the New York Times known to man. Russ and Daughters is on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, at 179 E Houston St (t212/475-4880 A bagel with lox and cream cheese runs about $8.


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