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Russ and Daughters – Lox, Cream Cheese, and Bagel – New York City

New York Foodie Adventure Part 5 of …

Russ and Daughters
Lower East Side, Manhattan, New York City
Friday July 18th 2009


I had first heard of Russ and Daughters from a recent episode on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations “Disappearing Manhattan” on the Travel Channel. I knew I had to check it out when I hit New York City this last weekend after seeing and reading about their bagel, cream cheese, and lox. Little did I know the epiphanies and delights that were really in store at this “appetizing store”, one of the best things I have eaten in my life.

Dried Fruits at Russ and Daughters

Russ and Daughters is a New York City institution (it’s even featured as a part of New York’s cultural heritage by the Smithsonian Institution and in the national registry of historic places). It has been on the block in the Lower East Side for almost a hundred years (1914) beginning from its humble beginnings out of a push cart and has since then began to faithfully and dutifully serve and specialize in excellent caviar, smoked and cured fish, dried fruit, and other items. Their storefront is situated just a few doors away from Katz’ Delicatessen on the south side of Houston Street. The feeling of pure peace and tranquility when we entered the store offered a stark contrast to the loud carnival atmosphere of Katz Deli later on.

Assorted Cheese Display at Russ and Daughters

Stepping into the Russ and Daughters store is like stepping back decades into an old-world class establishment. The walls feature their caviar in tin cans, dried fruits in glass jars, and their glass deli cases display vast varieties of smoked and cured salmon, fish, and cream cheeses.

Assorted Bagels at Russ and Daughters
Wasabi infused Flying Fish Roe? Got to try that next time.

The men working behind the counter are dressed in white lab coats, like surgeons meticulously and skillfully slicing and examining the highest quality of smoked fish cuts.

We picked up a number (it can get busy at times here in the small storefront) and luckily didn’t have to wait too long for our turn. My brother Andrew and I were relatively new at this ordering lox and bagel thing and so we asked the gentleman at the counter what he would recommend: the scallion cream cheese, everything bagel, and the nova lox. The total came to about $9.45.

When we stepped outside to enjoy our bagel on the bench overlooking the park, we noticed that the door had a recently laminated Anthony Bourdain article on the “13 Places to Eat at in the world before you die” from Men’s Health magazine. Russ and Daughters was featured at number 8 and I was glad to have enjoyed this place at least once in my life before I died.


The everything bagel is a soft bagel with poppy seeds, sesame seeds, onion, etc and is good, maybe not the best but still a good bagel. The scallion cream cheese was rich and creamy, tasty. The traditional gaspe nova lox is a rich, oily, slightly salted yet smooth tasting, smoked salmon that just melted in our mouths. Together the bagel, cream cheese, and nova lox were completely divine and absolutely delicious.

The rich yet mild taste lingered on my tongue, tantalizing my senses and enlightening my tastebuds to the point of a taste-nirvana. Mind-blowing.

The face of Manhattan may have changed over the last hundred years or so but the traditions and commitment of Russ and Daughters remains strong still today. We sit on the bench outside a little longer, savoring the flavors that we had just experienced in our mouths and watching the New York City streetscape pass by and enjoying life.

Next time, I will also try their herring fillets in cream sauce as I have heard that those are a specialty here at Russ and Daughters as well.

Russ and Daughters: Nova Lox and scallion cream cheese and everything bagel
Russ and Daughters: Nova Lox and scallion cream cheese and everything bagel
Russ and Daughters: Nova Lox and scallion cream cheese and everything bagel

Tasty Chomps RATING!!!!!
5 out of 5 Tasty Chomps!!!!!

Next up: Katz’ Delicatessan (just a few doors down!).

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  1. 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!