Russ & Daughters
Lower East Side
179 E. Houston St.
between Allen/Orchard Sts.
The Russ family has owned and operated this wonderful food store at the same East Houston Street location since 1914. The white-tiled shop is dominated by a large counter and chill case filled with an impressive selection of smoked fish, salads, and 8 kinds of herring and pickled lox. As the friendly and knowledgeable staff helps you make selections, they'll also ask about your children and chat about the neighborhood, making you feel like you're a regular, even if you're not.
The shop still sells favorite Jewish traditional foods, including babka, rugelach, and pickles by the barrel, and they're experts in smoked fish and caviar. But the store has extended its quality selection to also include a comprehensive selection of gourmet products including imported olive oils, salt, cheeses, dried fruit and nuts, bread, and a large selection of chocolates and sweets,
What to avoid:
Sunday mornings, unless you have lots of time and patience.
What to know:
The store has an impressive selection of American caviar, they sell whole coffee beans by the pound, and they still sell old fashioned bottles of seltzer to make New York egg creams (which of course have no egg in them). Prices are very good considering the quality of everything and the service is wonderful. Unlike many stores on the Lower East Side, Russ & Daughters is open on Saturdays. While the store itself is not under rabbinical supervision, they sell many kosher-style items.
The store delivers to all 5 NYC boroughs; check their web site for delivery charges.
They also have cafés on the Lower East Side and in the Jewish Museum where they serve many of the foods sold in their Houston Street store.