Nothing feels cooler than the day you can say “I know a good place to eat in New York…” As you may know, before that day comes you must endure lots of crappy meals in empty restaurants that you just happen to stumble into as a scared kid visiting the big city (usually a diner if in midtown, or an Italian or Indian place with a barker that can intimidate you into eating there if you're downtown).
I discovered (well, was introduced to) Kelley and Ping in Soho (which was the only location at the time) on a High School trip to NYC with my family. It served me well for years, I would always bring it up on New York trips in college with a casual coolness (that I am not sure, in hind site, I really pulled off).
Still it was a good restaurant and I knew about it. Now Kelley and Ping is a city staple with three locations and the food is still very good. Their Thai Wide Noodle dish is still one of the best wide noodle dishes I've had.