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  • Russ & Daughters Cafe, 179 E. Houston Street, New York City  
  • A spread of smoked & cured fish
  • Modern furnishings
  • Siberian Baerli Caviar on a Russian blini
  • The classic bagel & lox

07/03/14 Russ & Daughters Café, New York

Along with the pizza slice, the bagel is the snacking symbol of New York. A bagel with the works, however—a slather of cream cheese and paper-thin lox glistening like a dream’s entryway—is the story of the city. The primary purveyor of this classic assemblage is Russ & Daughters, the Jewish “appetizing store” that’s welcomed many a gastronomic pilgrimage in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

The journey that cured fish took to get from sea to store is fitting representation for New York’s influx of immigrants. In 1907, that included one Joel Russ from Eastern Europe who peddled herring from a pushcart and, seven years later, opened a specialty foods store at 187 Orchard Street, later moving to its legendary corner on Houston Street.

This year, the beloved specialty foods store turns 100 and makes an apt return to its roots by opening the Russ & Daughters Café on Orchard.

Solidifying quality and heart throughout a century should allow the business’ descendants a little ingenuity. Looking beyond the institution where people queued for containers of pickled herring or bauble-like caviar, fourth-generation owners Niki Russ Federman and Josh Russ Tupper created a place to kick back in the here and now. It is a clever little outpost with sesame seed wallpaper, marble-topped tables, and a breakfast-hardy selection of egg dishes. Through this sprucely designed space with old photos on the walls and cyan booths, one can sit down, survey, and taste the city’s delicious history.