Russ & Daughters
When I first moved to NYC some 7 years ago, the Lower East Side was a major focal point of my social scene – happy hours at the now defunct Sixth Ward, cocktails at Above Allen, late-night dance parties at The Delancy, and 3:00am slices from Rosario’s were all part of my regular routine. But since moving to the West Village in 2012 my LES time has been limited, which is why it was oddly nostalgic to stroll my former stomping grounds en route to the famous Russ & Daughters Cafe.
Jewish delis are an iconic part of NYC food culture, with a history dating back to the late 1880’s when Eastern European Jews — primarily of Polish and Russian descent — began opening kosher establishments as a way to both celebrate their culture and accommodate their dietary needs. Among these trailblazers was Joel Russ, a Jewish entrepreneur who got his start selling herring out of barrel on the streets of the Lower East Side. His brick & mortar shop, Russ & Daughters, opened in 1914, and 102 years later the business is as lively as ever.
As a long-time customer of another legendary Jewish establishment — the 2nd Avenue Deli, home to the world’s BEST chopped liver — I had high hopes for Russ & Daughters. And pleasantly my expectations were exceedingly met, with a behemoth of a meal that covered all the Jewish classics in delightful, delicious fashion.
Dave and I were seated in a corner booth tucked in the back of the cafe, sometime around 5pm on a Sunday. As the sun set over the course of our meal the light streaming from the frosted windows grew progressively dimmer, leading to these fantastically moody, umbral images – I hope you enjoy the visual feast as much as we enjoyed eating it. x