December 29, 2013

Ess-A-Bagel & Russ & Daughters { NYC }

Bagels, bagels, bagels!  

I'm not sure it's the water, the air, or the hands that craft the round bundles of dense, doughy, deliciousness, but bagels never taste the same in LA, SF, Boston, DC, or any place other than NYC. It's not a mental thing; it's reality.

And if you want to sink your teeth into a bagel with a chewy center, a schmear of silky cream cheese, and perfectly smoked and brined salmon, aka - lox (capers and onions, optional), you go to none other than Russ & Daughters.  It's non-negotiable.  Even Anthony Bourdain mentioned it in his list of "13 Places to Eat Before You Die" article.

Russ & Daughters, founded by Joel Russ in 1914, is one of NY's finest appetizing stores that serves up a world-famous lox bagel.  As NYMag puts it, "[t]o understand how a slab of smoked salmon lying across a bagel became the symbol for an entire city, you have to come to Russ & Daughters." [ link ]

Upon entering its doors, you will be greeted by a strong scent of fish. Before it begins to make you queasy, your eyes will quickly scan the rows of salmon, herring, caviar, olives, pickles, schmears, dried fruit, chocolates, and various other delicacies of Eastern European Jewish cuisine.  And of course, the bagels.  Take a number and wait your turn.


Every variety of salmon you need.

Bagel wrapped in its signature blue fish wrapping.

Do not ask about the lox in the above photo. I committed a horrible mistake that still upsets me, nine months later.

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Russ & Daughters on Urbanspoon

cuisine: Bagels
location: Lower East Side, NYC
nearest Metro: 2nd Ave; Delancey; Essex
hours: Open Daily. M-F: 8am - 8pm; Sat: 8am - 7pm; Sun: 8am - 5:30pm
websites: { R&D | yelp | facebook | twitter | wiki }
notes: It's a deli, so don't expect any seating. It's going to be busy, so put that NY game face on.
other reviews: { grab your fork gastronomy | pigpig's corner }

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If you can't easily make it to the Lower East Side because well, it's the Lower East Side, there are plenty of other bagel shops in the City.  Ess-A-Bagel (or Yes, a bagel!), with its two locations, is always a solid choice.

 Upon entering the original Ess-A-Bagel location, allow the wonderful smell of freshly-baked bread to fill your nostrils.  Then, prepare yourself for a crispy-crusted bagel with a pillowy inside with a variety choice of sweet, savory, or salty spreads.  If you feel especially creative, try their tofu or apple cinnamon cream cheese.  I just stuck with the typical NY style -- gimme the lox, baby (mainly to redeem my previous error).

Homey set-up.

Bagels galore.

Row of schmears.

Bagel + coffee = morning may begin.

Poppyseed bagel with cream cheese, lox, and capers.


So which serves a better bagel?  That, my friend, is a question that forever remains...

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Ess-a-Bagel on Urbanspoon

cuisine: Bagels
location: Stuvy Town; Gramercy (21st and 1st)
nearest Metro: 1st Ave; 3rd Ave; 23 St.
hours: M-F: 6am - 9pm; Sat-Sun: 6am - 5pm
websites:{ Ess-A-Bagel | yelp | facebook }
notes: Be prepared for long lines during morning rush hour.  

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