"Help! I'm Trapped In..." is a semi-regular feature where we tell you how to make the most of being stuck in areas that are (fairly or not) regarded as culinary wastelands. You're welcome.
Maybe you allowed a little too much time to wait for the orange line and arrived at South Station a full hour before your bus is supposed to depart or maybe there's just an unfortunate two hour gap between the time the commuter rail arrives and the time your train to New York departs. Whatever happened, now you're at South Station with plenty of time to kill and a growling stomach. What to do?
If you're at South Station for long enough to grab a quick bite before boarding the train but not quite long enough to leave or have a sit-down meal, it's time to learn your new mantra. Are you ready? Great. Repeat after us: "I am not too cool for the food court." We understand the perfectly well-founded disdain for fast food, but the food court options in the Commuter Rail section of South Station are actually pretty good. It might not be a meal to post on Chowhound about, but if you choose wisely, it can be filling, tasty, and cheap. Local chain Pizzeria Regina is your best bet. The pizza is a pretty good approximation of that offered at North End legends like Galleria Umberto. If it's available, go for a slice of the Melanzane. Cosi is also a consistently safe bet. Go for the T.B.M. (tomato, basil and mozzarella). The mustard vinaigrette is obsession-worthy.
If you've got enough time for a sit-down meal and don't mind a brief walk, leave South Station and walk the five or so minutes to Kneeland Street which offers two great dining options. If you're on a budget, get thee to the South Street Diner, where one can obtain a near-perfect BLT and chocolate frappe for under $15. If money isn't an object, walk a few doors further down to News, whose menu boasts that their burger is "known as the best in town." Not too shabby for a bus layover, no?
[Photo: A View on Cities]