Eating dinner late isn't the best thing you can do for your metabolism, but it has a huge upside—especially in cities like New York where everyone feels compelled to eat in the same restaurants at the same time.

Last night, after a cocktail party at a friend's Flatiron apartment, I swung by Madison Square Park to check in on the Shake Shack, just out of curiosity. How long would the line be at 9:39pm? Pretty short, turns out. I decided to stand in it—might as well—and top up my evening nourishment after some hours of wine, olives and cheese. (For those non-NYC'ers among you who've never seen the line here—in person or on the Shack's Web cam—it's very very long most of the time.) By 9:46 I'd reached the front, and by 9:54 I already had my food in hand, a juicy best-of-both-worlds, carnivore-meets-veggie burger: Shack Burger topped with a Shroom Burger (a fried, Muenster-cheese filled portobello slab). Total overkill, yes, but here a case of more is more.

On my way home I called up the sceney new Bowery Hotel restaurant Gemma—again, out of curiosity—to ask about the wait for a table of two. By now it was 10:24pm, and the receptionist eyeballed the wait at 15 minutes. Ever since Gemma opened a few weeks ago, it's been operating (officially) on a walk-in-only, no reservations basis. Two nights before, when I'd called Gemma anonymously at 8:30pm, the wait for two people was two hours, so my friend and I had veered off to the also-crowded (but high-turnover) new tapas spot Mercat nearby, to happily eat chickpeas with morcilla and the addictive peashoot-pinenut salad.

Moral of the story: If the wait for a table is two hours at 8:30pm, and 15 minutes at 10:24, well...I'm not a mathematician or a physicist (and certainly not a nutritionist), but I've got my own theory about space, time and energy.