The Hard Shell - Downtown
The Hard Shell - Downtown

The Hard Shell - Downtown

  • Dining Style: Casual Elegant
  • Website: http://thehardshell.com/
  • Phone: 8046432333
  • Hours of Operation:
    Brunch: Saturday & Sunday: 10:00am - 3:00pm; Lunch: Monday - Friday: 11:00am - 3:00pm; Dinner: Sunday - Thursday: 5:00pm -10:00pm, Friday & Saturday: 5:00pm - 10:00pm
  • Payment Options: AMEX,Diners Club,Discover,JCB,MasterCard,Visa
  • Cuisine: Steak, Seafood
  • Executive Chef: Chris Chaisson
  • Dress Code: Casual Dress
  • Accepts Walk-Ins: Yes
  • Additional Details: Banquet/Private Rooms, Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, Beer, Full Bar, Non-Smoking Area, Non-Smoking Restaurant, Patio/Outdoor Dining, Private Room, Takeout, Weekend Brunch, Wheelchair Access, Wine, Wine Bar
  • Private Party Facilities: The private dining room accommodates parties up to 55 guests. The Hard Shell offers custom menus and bar packages to suit every event. The private dining room is the perfect place for dinner programs, wedding functions or celebrations.
  • Private Party Contact: Leandra Dunlevy 8046432333

Getting there

  • Cross Street: 14th St
  • Parking: Private Lot
  • Parking Details: The Hard Shell validates parking after 5pm daily in the garage at the corner of 14th St. and Cary St. directly across from the restaurant.
A word from The Hard Shell - Downtown
Located in downtown Richmond"s historic Shockoe Slip, The Hard Shell Restaurant is known to locals as one of the best seafood restaurants in town.

The Hard Shell has Richmond's widest variety of fresh and local seafood as well as an extensive raw menu featuring oysters, clams, shrimp, mussels, crab legs, lobster, and much more.

The Hard Shell also features such items as filet mignon, baby back ribs, and many vegetarian dishes.

The Hard Shell is open for lunch and dinner daily as well as Sunday brunch. Every Sunday is all you can eat crab legs and Monday is lobster night. Private dining reservations are available. Dress is casual.
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The Hard Shell - Downtown reviews from OpenTable diners
73 reviews since June 2, 2014
Overall Rating4
  • Food4
    Service4.2
  • Ambiance4
    Noise LevelModerate
90% of reviewers would recommend this restaurant to a friend.
neighborhood gem (29)great for outdoor dining (27)fit for foodies (24)romantic (17)good for groups (16)special occasion (16)great for brunch (11)great for lunch (10)notable wine list (5)vibrant bar scene (5)hot spot (3)late-night find (3)scenic view (2)kid-friendly (2)Show More
  • Dcdb
    Dined on 9/24/2014
    excellent food and experience......................................................................................................
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • consistently great
    GailVIP
    Dined on 9/20/2014
    Hard Shell was great as always!! Our server Brian was friendly and enthusiastic. The food is always great, well priced and met the needs of everyone in our party of 7. It was the same last year when we had 15! Shrimp and scallops were great as was the grilled tuna (done perfectly rare as requested) and the simply grilled mahi mahi and crab cakes were also fantastic. So much and prepared perfectly
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • highly disappointed
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 9/20/2014
    Service was horrible! Food was pricey, ( our bill for 2 people was $95). However, that would not of been a problem if it hadn't been some of the most tasteless, ill prepared food I've ever eaten! The scallop pasta was less than a cup and most of my scallop shells were empty! The oysters were the size of a half dollar at best. Not to mention my waiter had no knowledge of the menu, didn't make eye contact, and we had to constantly ask other waitresses or the hostess for refills and assistance! In addition, when asked if our meal was okay, we said, "No, not really." Our waiter just said, "oh, okay." Never would I consider returning or recommending this restaurant to anyone!!
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Good food and service
    Hanoverian
    Dined on 9/9/2014
    Been awhile since I ate at the Hard Shell. Won't wait as long again. Good food and good service.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great food and prices
    OpenTable Diner Since 2011VIP
    Dined on 8/30/2014
    My wife and I really enjoy the food there (especially the surf and turf). I also like the atmosphere (a little dark but quaint)
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Never Disappoints
    Blfofoodie123VIP
    Dined on 8/27/2014
    Hard Shell delivers consistently good quality food with excellent service. I am never disappointed.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Tuesday is Prime Rib Night
    Travel2Richmond
    Dined on 8/26/2014
    Tuesday is Prime Rib Night with a three course dinner and choice of Prime Rib alone or two surf and turf choices. Great Deal for the Downtown Richmond Dining Scene. Outside dining was great on a pleasant later summer evening. Both seafood and steak selections were great for our entire party. Great bread selection with your meal.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, great for outdoor dining
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Loverichmond
    Dined on 8/16/2014
    Our table was ready when we got there.it was in a corner,which we usually do not prefer,but the waiter did an excellent job of serving us. The margaritas were too small for the price.food was different,but good. We have eaten there several times and will continue to.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, great for lunch, late-night find, scenic view, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • First bad experience
    3timer
    Dined on 8/9/2014
    I have been to HS multiple times and this was the 1st dissapointment. Poor appetizer, crab pasta with NO crab, and a piece of fish that was just more than 2 fork fulls. Hope this trend reverses. The Shell may get 1 more chance but thats about it. Moderate prices with reduced food portions does't cut it in todays competitive market. Love the atmosphee, but the food is what counts.
    Special Features:
    late-night find
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2013
    Dined on 8/9/2014
    We were disappointed in the food. Rockfish was prepared bland and our shrimp was way over cooked. Service was good. we like the Midilothan location better.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Great seafood experience!
    jc2014
    Dined on 8/2/2014
    We planned a family gathering at Hard Shell, and having never been there, did not really know what to expect. The reviews were great, so gave it a shot. At first, we were seated in a booth designed for 4 people, and there were 6 of us. the men in the group were not small, and my brother was half off the edge of the bench! After a few minutes, the manager accommodated us at a half booth, half table. This was definitely more comfortable for all. The service was very good and the food great, with one exception. The lobster was a little tough. I would definitely go back, though. The crab cakes were good and so was the she crab soup. lobster bisque was outstanding. Calamari very tender and cooked perfectly, with very tasty dipping sauce.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Delish
    Hurleygirlie
    Dined on 8/1/2014
    We had a party of 7 and everyone loved their meal!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • First time in Richmond
    TreborGT
    Dined on 7/27/2014
    Was sent to Richmond for work and was looking for a great dinner spot. On a recommendation i ended up at the Hard Shell and it was very good. The menu was a good mix of everything. I had the Hard Shell Pasta which was mussels, scallops, shrimp, clams, and lobster over linguini with a terrific red sauce. It was terrific. Great beer and wine selection as well. The service was excellent. This is a definite go-back restaurant if you like seafood.
    Special Features:
    kid-friendly, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Ups and downs
    Jeanne
    Dined on 7/25/2014
    We went to the Hard Shell while we were visiting Richmond. We went based on reviews (which were variable), and because we wanted good sea food. Our experience seemed very similar to the previous reviews. The service and atmosphere were good (although, it was very cold where we were sitting and wished we could have been sitting outside - but was told no seats were available). But as for the food...it depended on the order. The lobster dip appetizer was above average, while the chips it came with were great. My shrimp and grits were ok, but lacked any detailed flavor. But my husband's crab pasta...AMAZING! So, like I said, nothing was bad, but the great was variable. We would not likely return to the Hard Shell again.
    Special Features:
    special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Mouthwatering dishes
    Frenchy
    Dined on 7/24/2014
    The nut encrusted salmon with tarragon sauce is the best salmon dish I have experienced. The chef knows how to prepare salmon perfectly and the blend of mustard, tarragon, spinach is savory and oh so delicious. I tasted other dishes at the table and all were very good. The presentation of each dish was well crafted. The ambiance and the quality of food served at this restaurant made for a very enjoyable meal out.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, romantic, great for lunch, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • firsttimeinRVA
    Dined on 7/15/2014
    Great food but the service could be a little fast. The wine list was adequate.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Brunch/lunch
    Lovesfood
    Dined on 7/13/2014
    We took my Mom for her birthday and she loved the seafood. We also had brunch items, salad and soups - all delicious! The teenagers thought it was a very cool place. Our waitress was very attentive and nice. Great service.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Good food & service
    Fun2dine
    Dined on 7/11/2014
    The seafood was good. The service was really good. The calamari was very tasty.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, romantic
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Anniversary dinner
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 6/30/2014
    Celebrated our anniversary with Lobster dinners! Just enough food and great service. Will come back again.
    Special Features:
    romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great
    awesomeVIP
    Dined on 6/28/2014
    As always the food and service was idea and excellent, Richmond take note on service from here
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, romantic, neighborhood gem, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Anniversary dinner
    OpenTable Diner Since 2012
    Dined on 6/27/2014
    the general manager was extremely accommodating and even sent over complimentary champagne for our special anniversary.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Not What I Remembered
    Foodlover
    Dined on 6/21/2014
    Second time there, oysters and apps were good. Disappointed with the rest of the meal. With so many other choices in Richmond will probably not go back.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Was great last time, but...
    RandomDiner123
    Dined on 6/15/2014
    Went for an anniversary dinner. Had been there a few months prior, and everything was awesome. This time everything was overcooked or undercooked, temperature inconsistencies. Overall just a humongous disappointment. We won't be going back this time. It's a shame, because this was the first restaurant I remember liking when I moved to RVA several years ago, and I had enjoyed each (admittedly rare) visit up until now.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Pleasant Father's Day Brunch
    Javauno
    Dined on 6/15/2014
    The Hard Shell provides a great brunch selection for a reasonable price in a casual atmosphere. Our table for 7 was ready when we arrived and no pressure regarding time. Service was fast and friendly. Everyone had a great time.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • The Hard Shell
    EnvelmanVIP
    Dined on 6/14/2014
    This was our third visit to the Hard Shell and the food was excellent as always. I thought both entries were well prepared and to our order. My concern was the service was very slow. I know the Restaurant had several groups in but you know those in advance and you staff for them. I think the slow service hurts the Restaurant and this was the only time we experienced this. We will go back, the food is just too good.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • My Birthday Dinner
    lovetoeatseafood13
    Dined on 6/9/2014
    Went with friends was first time there..everyone was so pleasant and food was terrific
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, special occasion, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Well worth a visit
    OpenTable Diner Since 2013
    Dined on 6/7/2014
    This was our first dinner at The Hard Shell. Good raw oyster appetizer. Perfectly cooked tuna main. Great experience overall.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Anniversary dinner
    Reviewclipper
    Dined on 6/2/2014
    In celebrating our 35th anniversary we wanted to try a new place and had never eaten at the Hard Shell. It was a Monday night so the restaurant was quiet but not lonely (at 6:30). We had an excellent meal with very good service; attentive without being intrusive. All in all a good experience. We'll go back.
    Special Features:
    romantic, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Ratings-Only Reviews
    Based on 45 ratings-only reviews submitted since June 2, 2014
    • Overall Rating4.1
    • Food4.1
    • Ambiance3.9
    • Service4.2
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • The following 467 reviews are from the The Hard Shell - Downtown reviews archive.
  • Very good value
    Neil
    Dined on 5/25/2014
    Food was very good for the most part, but the crab leg special was not the best choice. Ribs and Rockfish were very good.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, special occasion, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Review of Hardshell Downtown RVA
    jmkellum44VIP
    Dined on 5/25/2014
    My favorite place to go for seafood in Richmond VA. They especially do well with oysters on the half shell, bringing all the right "go-withs," like horseradish, cocktail sauce, Tobasco, melted butter and crackers. Service is excellent as well.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, romantic, great for lunch, hot spot, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Nice Find
    skiplVIP
    Dined on 5/24/2014
    Walking around shockhoe bottom with wife and family to find a good place to eat while in town for weekend- used Opentable the entire time for the reviews after reading outside menus- we all agreed HardShell offered us the best options for us who are foodies. The food was mostly wonderful soft-shell crabs, bread, salads and the seafood pasta. Lobster chowder was a bit funky and my daughter ended up eating off her sisters pasta plate. Love the wine selection and prices but had to pour my own wine after the opening pour- unusual for a nicer restaurant. Waiter was average at best- seemed better suited for a chain.
    Special Features:
    kid-friendly, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Great place for a nice dinner
    JB1988
    Dined on 5/24/2014
    I enjoyed my time at The Hard Shell. This is a wonderful place for a date night. Also, the food was excellent.
    Special Features:
    romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2012
    Dined on 5/24/2014
    Excellent meal. Great staff. Our server, Brian S, was outstanding. I dine out qiut often and he is one of the best waiters I have had. I would highly recommend this restaurant.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • myeh
    OpenTable Diner Since 2012
    Dined on 5/18/2014
    Went there with my wife for dinner. Appetizers (crab cakes and shrimp potstickers) were really good. Overall, I can say that the seafood was great. The server was quick and friendly. However, one of the main dishes we ordered included a side dish that was unavailable. Normally running out of a side would not be a problem at all. In this case, however, the side was the factor that led to choosing this dish over others. Rather than informing us that the dish was unavailable, the server brought us the order with a substitution that was quite disappointing. When asked about it, the server stated that they didnt have what we ordered but made no offer to remedy the situation. There was no apology either. In the end, I wouldn't return.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Anniversary Dinner
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 5/17/2014
    We celebrated my son and daughter-in-law's 3rd anniversary at the Hard Shell. The food and atmosphere were outstanding.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, special occasion, scenic view, neighborhood gem, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Celebratory night...
    HungryVIP
    Dined on 5/11/2014
    Delicious food and drink helped us celebrate my son's college graduation. Wish I could remember our servers name because she was outstanding. Sadly our visits to Richmond are over but will surely recommend to others :-)
    Special Features:
    special occasion, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Mother's Day Luncheon
    Diner
    Dined on 5/11/2014
    Food was well-prepared and presented. Service was OK but waitress seemed rushed without even a "Happy Mother's Day." Next time I would ask for a table in the back dining room as the bar room is loud.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • A Richmond Jewel
    JimG
    Dined on 5/11/2014
    Wonderful Sunday Brunch at a reasonable price. Great Service
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, great for outdoor dining
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
  • Not a good Brunch
    OpenTable Diner Since 2011
    Dined on 5/11/2014
    The food was flavorful. However, the preparation left a lot to be desired. My wife could not cut her eggs benedict with a steak knife. To their credit they did not charge us for the meal.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Saturday dinner
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 5/10/2014
    The food was outstanding! Had a combo of scallops, shrimp and oysters as an appetizer. All were cooked to perfection and had a great flavor. The Mahi Mahi as an entree was very good also. Was our 1st visit there. Definitely worth a 2nd visit.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, great for outdoor dining, romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.