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Haymarket and Fish Advice

Any thoughts on the various sellers of fish at Haymarket?

I'm leery of the guys selling outside on the street next to the T station, as their seafood looks pretty beat up.

Has anyone used any of the guys selling fish from the downstairs shops in the main part of the market? Any hidden gems or cautions?

And any other source of fresh fish (not lobsters or crabs) that is walkable from the Financial District?

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  1. I'm around the Haymarket all the time, at Pete's Pub. Here's my advice about the fish:

    Turn left at Greenland.

    1. In my experience the downstairs fish seller is really awful, you can do better with the stands outside, but you still need to be very choosy there too and should know your prices before going there because not everything is a deal (plus you can negotiate a bit).

      On Salem Street in the North End is Mercato del Mare, Hook's offers fish as well and you can do cash and carry from a few places on Fish Pier but that is a hike. C-mart in Chinatown has a nice selection, I usually go to the lincoln street location despite the crowds. I think any of these are a better bet than the Haymarket vendors (and I am a Haymarket fan).

      2 Replies
      1. re: itaunas

        I'll agree; the fish at C-Mart is pretty darned good....

        1. re: galleygirl

          On Friday, the haymarket vendors go around to all of the local distributors and buy their "special fish" . Their motto is "under a buck, on the truck".

          Go to the North end, Mercato del Mare. You'll thank me later.

      2. I go to Haymarket sometimes, for veggies. I usually can smell the fish vendors from a block away. Personally, I'd never buy fish from any of them.

        1. Advice - yes......stay far away!

          1. I just bought salmon at haymarket this past friday. I got it from the stands outside. The price was great: $3/pound. I got home, and turns out the fish is rotten. I wil stick to c-mart in chinatown from now on.

            2 Replies
            1. re: ayoka

              Don't say we didn't warn you.

              They give the fish a bath to mask the smell until you get it home

              1. re: Richard Hurts

                Not that I don't doubt everyone here, but how can this continue to happen?
                If the fish were always foul, they would not stay in business and disappear, no?
                Plus, in theory, there are health regulations attached to the sale of this stuff. If it were so horrible, you'd think someone would have dropped a dime on them by now...

            2. I used to work in the Haymarket area and would shop there every Friday. I would SOMETIMES buy fish, but I established strict guidelines about when to buy and when not to buy.

              First, if it's over 60 degrees outside, don't buy. If there are any flies near the fish, don't buy. If the fish doesn't look fresh and moist, don't buy. If the sellers are acting too gruff, don't buy.

              That said, I have bought some excellent fish both at the outside stall near the T station and downstairs at the Middle Eastern market. A couple of times I have wandered into the other downstairs fish shop and felt intimidated because there were no signs and nobody to ask about prices, so I gave up on them.

              At the outdoor stall I have bought excellent haddock and salmon, and they introduced me to Maine shrimp which were incredibly fresh and delicious. I've been meaning to go back for more - if they still have them. They also have many other kinds of fish, many of which I don't recognize. I sometimes feel intimidated to ask what they are because the people can be gruff, although sometimes they're helpful. (Do you get the sense that I'm somewhat shy and timid? Not great attributes when you shop at Haymarket:) But the prices are very reasonable. When fresh fish from the supermarket is not in my budget, I can often find something affordable there.

              The Middle Eastern market seems a little more legit, although they don't have signs with prices or the type of fish either. Their prices are higher than the outdoor stall, but still reasonable. I'm more willing to buy fish from them in warm weather as long as there are no flies in the shop. A couple of times when I've been there there has been a language barrier and I had to communicate by sign language. Other times the fishmonger has spoken some English.

              So all in all, do not disregard Haymarket for fresh fish, but caveat emptor.