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A Taste of Old-School New York: Russ & Daughters

“Food is one of the deepest ways we have to connect to and take pride in who we are,” says Niki Russ Federman, who co-owns the storied Russ & Daughters with her cousin Josh Russ Tupper, in a feature by The New York Times.

And the family has been connecting for four generations, ever since the patriarch, Joel Russ, emigrated from Poland and started selling schmaltz herring out of a barrel on the streets of the Lower East Side.

Residents of the One Manhattan Square condos are uniquely positioned to experience both the connection and the pride that Russ & Daughters embodies and the exceptional fare they’ve delivered for over a century. With their proximity to this iconic establishment, residents can enjoy traditional Jewish food and provisions — bagels, smoked fish, and other Eastern European delicacies that tell a story that is as nourishing to the soul as it is to the palate.

Russ & Daughters, located at 179 East Houston Street, is an old-school appetizing store specializing in mouthwatering, ready-to-eat accompaniments that elevate simple meals. Deeply rooted in Jewish cuisine, the market offers an array of items typically served with bagels, including smoked, pickled, or cured fish. Essential to their offerings are cream cheese spreads and a variety of side dishes.

Appetizing shops, like Russ & Daughters, are known for their bagel artisanship, creating the perfect platform for their toppings. Additionally, the staff demonstrates mastery in slicing fish, particularly the satiny pink salmon, to paper-thin precision, enhancing the melt-in-your-mouth texture. These establishments are where bagels meet their soulmates in lox and a schmear of cream cheese, and, if you desire, here at Russ & Daughters, you can have your own made to order while you watch.

Upon entering the compact, slender space Russ & Daughters occupies, a visual feast ensues. Bagels, bialys, and bread fill wire baskets, and smoked and cured fish are neatly stacked behind glass alongside mountainous trays of cream cheese spreads. Colorful tins of caviar and roe, next to jars of jellies and capers, line the shelves. Jugs, bins, and large containers brim with sweets like babka and rugelach. Plus, you will find an assortment of dried fruits and nuts. It’s a delightful sensory overload, but you need to gather your wits and grab a number from the bright red ticket dispenser, because, without one, you’ll miss your chance to place your order.

If you’ve already discovered Russ & Daughters, you probably know your order by heart — most aficionados do. Many newbies opt for the “Classic Bagel and Lox Sandwich” to get a lay of the land; the classic comes with your choice of bagel (18 types, including two gluten-free and a bialy), cream cheese (nine options), and lox (four are no extra charge, and four are an upgrade). There are add-ons like capers, tomatoes, and red onions. Here’s food for thought for your next visit: caviar cream cheese, Gaspe Nova smoked salmon, scallion cream cheese, yellowfin tuna (smoked or raw), and chocolate babka.

For the residents of One Manhattan Square and the wider community, Russ & Daughters isn’t just a place to eat; it’s a place to come in contact with history, with family, and with the flavors that have been shaping the Lower East Side for over a century. It epitomizes how food can be a connector to our roots, offering a taste of who we are and where we come from.