The year-round Boston Public Market in historic downtown features a mix of local vendors – meat, cheese, flowers, and even hot cider donuts!
By Amy Traverso
Jul 31 2015
Looking down the row at the Nella Pasta, Boston Smoked Fish, the Massachusetts Wine Shop and Q’s Nuts stalls.Photo Credit : Amy Traverso
For years, Boston’s food community has lamented the lack of a permanent, year-round food market along the lines of San Francisco’s Ferry Building Marketplace and Seattle’s Pike Place Market. It had wonderful seasonal farmers’ markets, but no permanent gathering spot.
Then, in 2001, a group of foodies, farmers, and restaurateurs formed the Boston Public Market Association with the goal of creating just that. It took years. I remember moving back to Boston from San Francisco in 2007 and hearing news that a market was in the works. But progress was slow. The project needed government support and private funding. It also needed a location, which was finally chosen in 2011 as the space above Haymarket Station, abutting the Rose Kennedy Greenway. Fittingly, it stands adjacent to the open-air Haymarket, where vendors have sold fruits and vegetables since the early 1800s, and just down the road from Faneuil Hall, which once served as Boston’s year-round food market.
In recent years, the Association knitted together a coalition of supporters: former governor Deval Patrick, the mayor, state representatives, individual and corporate donors, like-minded non-profits. It took, as they say, a village.
And now it’s open! I had the opportunity to visit on Wednesday and it was all that I had hoped it would be: a mix of 37 vendors, including bakeries, meat and produce vendors, cheese mongers, prepared food stalls, fishmongers, a local florist, a wine and beer shop, an ice cream counter, even a fresh cider donut maker. We were happy to see several winners of previous Yankee Editor’s Choice Food Awards from 2013 and 2014, including confectioner Sweet Lydia’s and Taza Chocolate. The space is open and bright, filled with delicious smells and vivid colors.
It’s also the first public market in the country to sell only local foods and goods. Everything here was grown, sourced, or made in New England, from the Massachusetts-made cheeses at Appleton Farms to local flowers from Stow Greenhouses, milled wood products at Peterman’s Bowls and Boards, and hydroponically grown fresh greens from Corner Stalk Farm in East Boston. The sugar and vanilla in Union Square Donuts’ Birthday Cake donuts may come from afar, but everything is baked and fried in town.
You can eat locally and drink locally, too. Hopster’s Alley has the best selection I’ve seen of New England-made beer, wine and spirits, including a respectable selection of ciders.
And speaking of cider, those aforementioned cider donuts are made fresh hourly at the Red Apple Farm stand, near the Congress Street entrance. If you have a genetic weakness for them, as I do, and are trying to abstain, avoid that side of the building. Their scent is a siren’s call.
If you don’t live in Boston, and are disinclined to buy perishables like fresh meat or cheeses, don’t miss out. The market has a terrific lineup of prepared foods vendors and it’s worth stopping by for a meal: donuts or smoothies for breakfast, a grilled cheese sandwich or plate of raclette from Jasper Hill Farm, a corned beef sandwich from Beantown Pastrami, ramen from Noodle Lab, ice cream from Crescent Ridge. Even if you’re on a spending freeze, the free samples are abundant.
The market is located directly above the MBTA’s Haymarket Station, between Congress Street and the Greenway.
UPDATE: Parking is available directly above the market (the entrance is on Sudbury Street), and costs just $1 for up to 2 hours and $3 for up to 3 hours if you have your ticket validated at the information booth (it’s near the Red Apple Farm booth).
The market is open Wednesday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Boston Public Market. 100 Hanover Street at Haymarket Station. bostonpublicmarket.org