Best restaurants in Chelsea?
Hi, I think you need to distinguish between the best restaurants in the neighborhood and those that are family-friendly.
I'm one of a family of four who lives in Chelsea. R.U.B. might work if you're in the mood for bbq, but I don't think of it as the "best of the neighborhood" as, say Del Posto. DelPosto could fit fifty families of four, BTW! Patsy's on 23rd between 8th and 9th has always worked for us...Italian/pizzeria. Somewhat more upscale Italian choices tabbac has suggested. Rocking Horse Cafe is another good family-friendly (and good) restaurant, Mexican, though not as good as the more upscale Suenos, on 17th (I think) between 8th and 9th.
re: 280 Ninth
If you're looking for something casual - and I mean caf-style but with better food - I'd suggest Manganero's Hero Boy on 9th Ave between 37th and 38th Streets. It's Italian wth hot and colds hero sandwhiches, pastas, etc. Big portions and decents prices, although the drinks are oddly expensive.
If your looking for family friendly Italian restuarants in Chelsea, I highly recommend Chelsea Ristorante (8th ave & 16th str); it is a terrific local Italian restaurant with great food and friendly service. If your interested in something with a bit more flare, try Le Zie 2000 (7th Ave & 20th str.), the mac & cheese with truffles is amazing. Both are great Italian places with reasonable prices.