Haymarket, the bustling open-air produce, meat, fish, and cheese market near Faneuil Hall Marketplace, gets a bad rap for being overcrowded and full of rude vendors selling produce on the verge of being rotten. But Carty is here to tell you that it has its good sides. Don’t even bother going if you can afford Whole Foods without flinching, says Carty. But the exceptional bargains are often worth it: Chowhounds have scored great oranges six for $1, four-pound bags of spinach for $1, and three freshly-shucked cherrystone clams for $2. Those prices, and the colorful crowd and vendors, make shopping the market worth it.

Newbies will have a better go of it if they remember a few simple rules: never go looking for a specific produce. Instead, vow to cook whatever you buy. “I like this, forces a sort of Iron Chef thing every week,” says Carty. Next, don’t ask the vendors to make change. Just bring a pocketful of $1 bills, advises Allstonian.

If the vendor wants to pack your bag of limes or whatever you’re buying, that’s fine, say experienced Haymarket shoppers. If the bag ends up full of crappy selections, the unspoken Haymarket rule is that you can return the bag and get your money back. And if the teeming masses start to get to you, just relax and enjoy the show. “Haymarket is worth it for the entertainment value alone. Three-foot-tall Asian ladies elbowing their way to the front getting yelled at by six-foot-tall Italian vendors, not understanding a single word, to save 25 cents—priceless,” says drb, while Northender adds, “It is terrific fun to see the new immigrants interact with the vendors. Lots of fake spats and arguments but generally happy interactions.” Others fondly remember the “meat guy” in a bloodstained apron who used to whisper, “Psst, want some meat?” to passersby.

Parking in the area can be tough, but there is paid parking nearby. If you park in the Parcel 7 garage and buy a slice of Haymarket Pizza for a buck or two you can get a validation that allows you to park for two hours for $1.

Haymarket Pushcart Association [North End]
61 Salem Street, Boston

Board Link: Learning to Love the Haymarket

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