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Haymarket "market hours"

Does anyone know what time the Haymarket vendors open for business on Saturday?

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  1. both days they open at 9:00, but some stalls take a more leisurely approach and aren't ready to go til 10:00. some close at 5, but in the summer most stay open til 7ish.

    2 Replies
    1. re: hotoynoodle

      I was just over there and 1 of the guys said they get started around 7AM. I think I've been there as early as 8 ish.

      1. re: 9lives

        I agree, they are there early. I've hit it at 7:00.

    2. Does anyone have any tips on which vendors are reliable? I've had mostly bad experiences at Haymarket. It seems like most of the ones that display seemingly OK produce insist on choosing stuff for you that's out of sight (and usually rotten, or borderline). I go down there because I love Haymarket Pizza but i'm amazed that this scam has been going on for so long.

      19 Replies
      1. re: nightsky

        If you hold the cash out to them, and offer to pay a bit more (you're paying rock bottom to begin with), they'll sometimes let you pick it out yourself, especially if you're there early (before they've gotten as annoyed by everyone else) or late (when they're trying to get rid of stuff).

        Note: Your Mileage May Vary

        1. re: sorolin

          Just remember at least one part of what Haymarket is.. if something doesn't sell in the New England produce center (in Chelsea) in the early morning hours. - if Shaw's or local restaurants or distributors don't want it, if its wilted or has some mold, well, a lot of it ends up in Haymarket. Can you find good stuff buried in there? Of course. but at least at some level, thats case of whatever wasn't saleable at a normal price.

          1. re: sorolin

            i shop there all the time. it's not a scam and i have never offered to pay "more" for anything. my impression is that overall quality is better now than even 5 years ago and i rarely get anything "off". be nice, be decisive and have your money out and ready to pay. just friday i bought giant bunches of mint, cilantro and parsley that were 2 for $1 and gorgeous peaches that were 8 for $1.

            i typically visit the same handful of stalls but it's kind of hard to describe who is who.

            in the summer i prefer to go on friday mornings, because i know most stuff just sits out and wilts.

          2. re: nightsky

            It's not (simply) a scam. Here's a good thread (that I happened to start :)) on getting the most out of the haymarket:

            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/592877

            1. re: nightsky

              It's not a scam. You have to get to know your way around the place.

              I love it - don't get to shop there much these days. Takes me so long to get there from Nahant (and before I moved here, Lynn), that I don't go too often anymore. I probably love it because my mom (who passed away a few yrs ago) taught me how to handle them down there. Plus, I sort of perfected my own technique. :D

              Years ago it helped to get to know the vendors. I'm kinda quiet, so it's not that easy for me, but I haggle, too, if I have to. Usually what I do (if I have the time and the strength) is walk up and down the whole place, to see who's selling what, and for what prices. Couple of yrs ago I got a case of plums (albeit it was a Saturday - on the afternoons they start marking stuff down) for a buck (guy said, "I saw you walking by here eight times," hahaha). Dried them out in my oven and had the best dried fruit ever.

              You also have to have a thick skin (if the vendors get nasty). It's a rough business - but IMO, they are real, and a part of the city that's disappearing.

              I still get stuck w/some lousy veggies or fruit, but most the time I pay only a fraction of what I would pay in any store - so even counting a little loss, it's well worth it.

              Some of the vendors (kind of near the pizza) will hand you a bag to fill yourself. I try to remember which ones they are (remembering anything isn't one of my strong points these days!)

              BTW - I seem to remember reading last yr that parking was discounted to $1 for Haymarket shoppers. Does anyone know if that's true - if it's still that, or close to that amt., and how they work it?

              Edited because I decided to stop being so lazy - checked the link above, (thank you Carty) and got an answer to my question about parking. Driving in on a Sat. morning might be easier than the T. What am I saying?! Of course it's easier than the T to where I am!! (duh!)

              1. re: threedogs

                Parking at the Haymarket garage (Parcel 7 garage ) is discounted with a validated ticket, something like 2 hours for a $1. Trick is, try to find someone to validate it. I've always validated it at Haymarket Pizza (with purchase of a slice of course)

                1. re: lukasr

                  harry the cheese guy validates too.

                  1. re: lukasr

                    Wow - I had no idea that parking was discounted there. I used to love Haymarket when I lived in the N. End and in Cambridge near the Red Line, but my Brighton apt. isn't very close to the Green Line and busses are a PITA. I have missed out on Haymarket for the past 4 or so years because of that. Thanks for the info - will drive in on Saturday morning and try to get a spot / validated.

                2. re: nightsky

                  I don't shop there much any more since I left the North End, but I can't even tell you how many times I have posted THE DEFINITIVE HAYMARKET TIP on chowhound. Someone below posted the starter. Walk the length of it see who has good stuff. This is open air market 101.

                  The folks who sell stuff their are tough. Several posters below have given good tips.

                  But the tip that is peculiar to Haymarket is this: there is an unspoken rule; when you get any given bag of produce, open it right a way and poke around. If it really sucks, is rotten, etc. Give it back to the vendor. The unspoken rule of haymarket is, they will take it back.

                  The real crusty curmudgeon will do so grudgingly, perhaps with an expletive or three thrown in, but they will give you your $ back. The nice folks will probably offer to give you more produce, or substitute for the iffy pieces you got stuck with.

                  Giving produce back takes guts, not for the faint of heart.

                  But if you walk the market, find the good folks, go regularly and find people you trust, Haymarket is an economical wonder.

                  1. re: StriperGuy

                    Yes, yes, and YES! I agree with everything you said, StriperGuy! I'm from Malden originally, and it was so much easier for me to get into Haymarket. Love where I am right now, but I miss all of that so much...

                    1. re: threedogs

                      Not saying you can't get a deal at Haymarket.. but you have to be aware..restaurants, stores, they can't sort, or accept that 20% of their produce is basically garbage.. they don't have to - they have the buying power and they don't have the time.

                      But don't go down there thinking its Russo's on the cheap.. you might find your avocado's overly ripe and have to chuck a third of them, or your basil black.. but if the price is right, and you are going to throw it into a food processor, more power to you.

                      1. re: grant.cook

                        It is definitely NOT Russo's on the cheap, but, honestly you are incorrect on two counts:

                        1- Though most of the clientele is individuals, quite a few restaurants do shop there. Particularly from the immediate area (North End, Quincy Market). Particularlly you will see people (obviously restaurant employees) heading back to the North End with a hand truck full of onion's and carrots to stock up on the cheap.

                        2 - If you are scrupulous about paying attention to the suggestion above you WILL NOT be throwing out 20% of your produce or getting basil that is black. I didn't and I shopped at Haymarket regularly on and off for 10 years.

                        I think most Americans don't even know how to shop at a real market. Local farmer's markets are far from what going to market means in the undeveloped world, or even parts of Europe. You will have sleazy vendors. Many WONT let you pick items, and you have to be discerning in what you buy. But the reward is well worth it, both in prices, but also in variety.

                        I miss Haymarket, both for the hustle and bustle and for the surprises of fruit/veg I never even heard of that I tried for the first time. And for the fact that (with some hard work) I got some really beautiful produce.

                        The last year or two of my sojourn in the NE I was more likely to hit a couple of the wonderful local green grocers then wrangle with Haymarket. But it is still an amazing adventure every time I hit it, and certainly the best value for produce in Boston.

                        1. re: StriperGuy

                          striperguy, i'm with you

                          i don't get 20% garbage and i shop there almost every week. i can't remember the last time i had to toss something when i got home, so i guess i get zero percent garbage. i'm a culinary school grad, restaurant professional and an excellent home cook who entertains frequently. if the stuff on display looks less than perfect, i keep walking. we had a 2-day party this weekend with friends coming and going both days. i made 2 dinners and a brunch. i spent about 75-80% less on produce, cheese and olives than i would have if i shopped at my local shaw's. (btw, the produce at my shaw's is mostly garbage. it's never ripe and it's stratospherically priced.)

                          i also agree that americans don't know how to shop. everything is shrink-wrapped and available all year.

                          i don't have a car and have never been to russo's. haymarket is a 5-minute ride on the blue line for me. when i see the prices for non-organic at whole foods or at my shaw's i'm very happy to support local vendors at haymarket. parsley at shaw's was $1.49 a bunch last week. i got 2 for a buck at haymarket.

                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                            Bravo, exactly what I'm talking about!

                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                              Yes! And that reminds me about the olives - oh, the olives! I had a very nice lady (around my own age - getting better, like the olives and cheese, hehe) tell me which olives to try. She said she was Arab descent (I'm half Sicilian - prob similar genes going back a few generations). I was also given a couple of the preserved lemons, which I discovered gave my homemade salad dressing great flavor and depth... Can't go wrong with the prices, esp when I compare these to the stuff my grocery store is selling - not even close to the flavor of these olives. Mmmm...

                              1. re: hotoynoodle

                                I've been hitting up the cheese guy for his 2 for 5 and 3 for 7 deals on the outside table. That blue brie is very tasty and there's usually at least one slightly unusual cheese out there. I got horseradish cheddar last week which I'll try tonite.

                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                  I've found that it really depends on what type of produce you get, whether the quality is OK or not. Personally, I tend to stay away from things like berries and soft-flesh fruit like peaches. I find that stuff has the best chance of being bruised beyond belief, or has mold ready to pop out the next day when you go to the refrigerator.

                                  To be honest, I also usually would avoid Haymarket this time of year, when it's 90 and humid out. The hot sun really kills a lot of the food. I have much better luck going in the fall and winter.

                                  I tend to go to Haymarket and buy things that I plan to cook right away, like if I need lots of tomatoes for soup or sauces. Or, if it's something I can quickly blanch in some boiling water and freeze (like broccoli or green beans), or if it's something that's hard to damage, like carrots, or if it's something that you can easily see if it's fresh or not, like lettuce or other types of greens.

                                  You also do learn which vendors are better than others. When I go, I always make a complete walk through of the market before I buy anything, to see what is for sale that week, and check what the good prices are. Then, I'll go back to the stalls that looked the best and buy.

                                  I have gotten a CSA box the last two summers, but once the fall sets in, all this talk of Haymarket has made me interested in wading in again and saving some money.

                                2. re: StriperGuy

                                  It's funny, since I tend to get about 40-50% garbage by the next day. I'm still new to the market and feeling out who the better stalls are - even though it seems they all get the same stuff...

                                  1. re: nader

                                    there does seem to be the same "types" of produce, but quality definitely varies. i know get a lot of "give the pretty lady the nice ones", lol, but if you're getting that much crap, check your bag before leaving the stall and speak up if the stuff is no good.

                        2. Haymarket is worth it for the entertainment value alone, especially 4 ft tall Asian grandmothers arguing with 300 lb Italian vendors.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: drb

                            Hey, those little Asian grandmoms are tough cookies (able to hold their own with any tough Italian - anyday!)

                            1. re: drb

                              Exactly. Give 'em hell grandma!