This article is designed to make you feel good. Whether or not you are planning to visit the Boston Public Market — our city’s fantastic new indoor market for local foods, flowers, and crafts — or whether you just want a visual tour that will leave you drooling and swooning, you’ve come to the right place.
When Boston Public Market opened in 2015, revitalizing a cavernous space in downtown Boston that had been empty for 12 years, I swore I would check it out immediately. Alas, weeks turned into months, as my two young children marauded all over my plans. One by one, each of my friends visited the market, returning with glowing reviews. “The BPM is the best addition to our city in forever,” they raved. “It’s delicious. Get yourself down there!”
At last, this week the planets aligned for a Boston Public Market visit. With both kids in daycare and my teacher self on February vacation, I hopped aboard the Orange Line train with my fancy new camera lens and bounded out at Haymarket Station. Just three steps away, the doors of the market beckoned.
I’d heard the BPM can get crowded during peak hours, but at 10am on a Thursday, all was calm and easy. I was meeting a friend at 11:30, so I spent the next hour and a half strolling, photographing, and sighing with happiness.
The space is big, but not too big. With 40 local vendors plus several rotating “pop-up” shops, you can comfortably visit every stall in an hour or two, sampling all the way. In the center of the market are large tables perfect for eating and meeting. Why do I have no photos of those? Turns out my fancy new camera lens is brilliant for close-ups, but stinks for everything else. Ah well!
By the time my friend arrived at 11:30 with her baby, the market was bustling with munching lunchers: locals and tourists eating together. (Another friend who works down the street said the BPM is now their go-to for meals.) Despite the influx of hungry people, my friend and I were still able to find seats and a high chair: the Holy Grails of traveling parents.
A word about parking, if you choose to drive. There IS $3 validated parking at the garage in the building (a price absolutely unheard of in Boston), however, don’t depend on it during peak hours. When my friend arrived, that lot was full (confusingly, her texting autocorrect changed this to “fake,” which caused an odd conversation between us), and she had to park at a nearby garage that was approximately ten billion times the price. If possible, use public transport to reach the Boston Public Market to avoid this risk, and save that money for donuts instead! The BPM is near every possible train and bus line, so this should be no problem.
With so many choices for food (click here to see the full list of vendors in a mighty modern and pretty format), what would you pick for lunch? My friend and I decided on an insanely good pastrami sandwich from the Beantown Pastrami Company. You can find any meal option, however, from Asian noodles to Jewish kugels, to freshly-caught sea urchin. (I’m serious about the urchins, and even photographed them, but they were not pretty enough to include in this article. Sorry, urchins.)
One of the best parts of the Boston Public Market is all the yummy free samples. What is the most daring sample to try? Hands-down, a shot of the “Fire Cider” at Red Apple Farm: Apple cider vinegar with garlic, onions, horseradish, hot pepper, and other mouth-stinging elements. Would you drink it? I did, because I’m a powerful beast. Not terrible!
Other tasties in the market include apple cider donuts, churros and hot chocolate, artisanal nuts, and fresh local cheese. The value and quality of the seafood, in particular, is incredible. My friend who works nearby says he picks up a slab of fish there on his way home every few days, sizzles it with some BPM fresh produce, and dinner is done.
Speaking of cooking, the market has a 3,200 square foot demonstration space called — what else? — “The KITCHEN,” which has fabulous rotating lessons and shows. (Yes, the official spelling is in all caps because it’s a BIG DEAL.)
In all seriousness, the mission of the Boston Public Market, which is run by a non-profit organization, is beautiful: To provide fresh, healthy food to consumers of all income levels, nourish our community, and educate the public about food sources, nutrition, and preparation.
Because of its mission to bring excellent food to all income levels, the Boston Public Market accepts SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). The space is also accessible to all ages and physical abilities, as it has ramps and wide aisles for both strollers and wheelchairs.
Considering visiting the market with kids? You’d be in good company, because there are always plenty there! Those we saw were on remarkably good behavior, hypnotized by the colors, smells, and tastes swirling around their little noggins. Most displays are behind glass, so you don’t have to worry too much about toddler hands pulling expensive things off shelves, but do be aware of your visit timing. Since the market is open every day, most of the day, you can strategically avoid the rush of peak mealtime hours.
If education is your thing, know that the market offers free one-hour tours as well as class field trips. As a seventh-grade teacher, myself, I can only imagine the amount of food my 140 students would gobble up! All while being educated about local agriculture, of course.
Now, a word about onions. Ogling pretty produce is one of life’s great joys, so I was initially disappointed about the muted colors of the BPM’s fruits and veggies, comparing them, surly, in my mind to the rainbow summer of this Quebec market… but then I took a deep breath and looked a little closer. With a shock, I realized something that had never occurred to me before: Onions are gorgeous! Take a moment to gaze at this satin-smooth, golden-silver skin…
All of a sudden I remembered one of my favorite pieces of art on Earth, located 160 miles west of Boston in the Clark Museum of Massachusetts: the 1881 Renoir painting called “Onions.” Take a click and see if you don’t have a newfound admiration for these luminous orbs!
For those of you planning to visit the market and do other Boston tourism fun, I shall now proceed to some logistics, but for those just here for the colors (high five, fellow color-lovers!), here is a perfect pumpkin bottom for your viewing enjoyment.
Where to stay near the Boston Public Market:
- The Bostonian (click for rates) is just steps away and gets high reviews.
- I used to live next to The Revere and love the neighborhood and convenience.
- The Copley Marriott is an excellent value, and right on the T.
- The Boston Harbor Hotel is gorgeous, overlooks the water.
- This historic downtown hotel is where the Boston Cream Pie was invented!
Save money and time with these Boston deals:
- Living Social and Gilt City have awesome, always-changing deals for Boston.
- The CityPass and GoCard give discounted admissions to tourist attractions.
- The Viator tour search engine offers affordable ways to see hidden Boston.
- SeatGeek and TicketNetwork have the best events in the city. Check them out!
So there you have it: Boston Public Market is one of the best places you can go for unique, delicious local food and fun. All that, and it has a wonderful mission, too! So what do you think? If you’ve been to the BPM, what would you add? If you haven’t been yet, which parts look the most scrumptious to you? Do share!
I was compensated for this article by one free $1 donut. It was totally worth it. FYI, I’ve added a few affiliate links here which support this site at no cost to you, if you use them for searching or buying what you were planning on searching or buying anyway. Thanks, and happy travels!