Hard Water

4.5
467 reviews
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$30 and under
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Contemporary Southern
Hard Water is a whiskey bar with the largest selection of craft and highly allocated whiskey on the west coast. We serve delicious small plates and fried chicken in a convivial and lively bar setting. We have two tables for large parties and communal counter seating for snacks and cocktails. Join us for lunch on our sunny patio that fronts the Embarcadero. We are located at Pier 3, The Embarcadero, San Francisco.
What 467 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.5based on recent ratings
4.4
food
4.4
service
4.3
ambience
4.1
value
Noise · Moderate
88% of people would recommend it to a friend
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B
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

We had a reservation and our table was ready when we arrived. Good and friendly service. We ordered some snacks and they were tasty. Unfortunately it was so loud we thought we had placed an order for oysters but our server didn’t hear us.

The drink selection is the big draw. Two of us ordered whiskey flights and these were outstanding - a good variety within a category, which is exactly the point of ordering a flight. Others had beers and wine - everyone in our group enjoyed their drinks, we never felt rushed, and we had a good time. The down side was the price - but that’s not unusual for San Francisco. I will definitely book for Hard Wayer again in the future.

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OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on May 2, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Great food and drinks!

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c
Pittsburgh
22 reviews
Dined on April 17, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 5

Visiting my son for his 25th birthday, and all being whiskey lovers, this checked off all our boxes. Lots of flights to choose from, and great whiskey cocktails. Had the fried chicken with 4 or 5 small plates between the 5 of us. Perfect. Food really good, and sitting out on the bay made for a memorable evening.

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s
San Francisco
7 reviews
Dined on April 12, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 4

Must go for the bourbon and rye selection as it is amazing!

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OT
New York Area
2 reviews
Dined on April 10, 2019
Overall 2food 2service 4ambience 2

Reservation wasn't honored, host didn't communicate well (waitress was great) Oysters weren't footed, chicken was dry and biscuits were raw...

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JJ
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on April 9, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

4 stars for food: my group did not order any food; however we saw the food that other groups ordered and they looked great.

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MA
1 review
Dined on March 23, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

It was our 1st time experiencing Hard Water. Our reservations or at 4 o'clock on a Saturday. We arrived 5 minutes to our reservation and was given options on where we could sit. My husband and I chose the bar. All of the bartenders and servers were excellent in answering questions, keeping our drinks filled and made time talking about our interests and what our visit to SF was for. I myself am not a whiskey drinker I was scared to order but the staff assisted me in selecting something per my taste through questioning my likes abd dislikes and sure enough hit it out of the ballpark. We will definitely be back!!!! And the good before I forget... small plates with HUGE taste... we shared the chicken, mac n cheese, and PB Chocolate pie... all so yummy.

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OT
Los Angeles
1 review
Dined on March 16, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

It was a small space but the food and service were great!

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AB
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on March 15, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 5

The Nashville style spicy fried chicken only had flavor in the crispy skin. If the chicken itself, which was cooked nearly perfectly had some more flavor. I would give it 5 stars across the board.

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OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on March 9, 2019
Overall 2food 4service 1ambience 4

Cool place. Seems some of the staff do not like customer interactions. One in particular (owner’s son or family member?) may have been having a bad shift, but came across annoyed and condescending in every attempted conversation. Would not recommend based off this interaction but willing to give another chance because of the fantastic whiskey options.

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n
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on March 1, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Hard Water is my go-to place. The service is consistent. The selection is wide. The ambiance is perfect - with a spectrum of times to choose from (come earlier for that happy-hour FiDi crowd, come later for that late-night murmur). The views are amazing and easily accessible (parking at Embarcadero is across the street and the space is easily accessible for Lyft/Uber/Ride-du-jour drop-off). Security is top notch (it's next to the Bloomberg West offices and consequently you will see 2-3 finely dressed, welcoming security personnel patrolling the premises).

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MM
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on February 27, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Stuart the bartender was Awesome, I was looking for to try a different whiskey that way I normally order, I asked for a whiskey rye and Stuart brought out this Hill Rock whiskey and it was excellent.

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I
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on February 2, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 4

We took our best friends on a tour of our favorite bars — Hard Water was on the list!

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JM
Washington DC
45 reviews
Dined on February 2, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 5

Great crispy Brussels sprouts. And best fried chicken- with the pepper jelly it was incredible.

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J
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on January 27, 2019
Overall 2food 4service 2ambience 1

Didn't actually need a reservation. Seating open and first come, first served.

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W
Sacramento
13 reviews
Dined on January 19, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 3ambience 5

Great selection of whiskey & bourbon. Sit at the bar and chat it up with the bartenders as they have great suggestions.

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HE
Toronto
56 reviews
Dined on January 13, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

What a fabulous little gem of a spot. High bar seating but the ambiance was very swanky yet casual and the food was delicious. We tried a variety of dishes and they were all well prepared. Brussel sprouts were unbelievably sweet savoury crunchy and soft. Great cornbread & fried chicken. You need to make sure that you are going well before they close as they are not open all night but it's totally worth it. Kitchen closes first.

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OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on January 5, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 4

Excellent evening out tasting whiskey! Very knowledgable staff!

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BR
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on December 31, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 3

We had a good time at the Hard Water The small plates to share were yummy. We didn't realize it was a whiskey bar and when I ask for vodka the bar guy was put off and not so friendly. But as we talked to him and let him talk his trade and educate us on brown liquor he was much better and interesting
The food was easy and tasty

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FM
Portland
6 reviews
Dined on December 26, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Amazing. Incredible experience.

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JM
San Francisco
25 reviews
Dined on December 15, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

I took my best friend to Hard Water for a birthday celebration based on the menu. We are both 60+ and had a complete fun, festive time. She is not a bourbon drinker, and I only became one during our visit. Our server was wonderful, friendly and efficient. We tried lots of menu items, bourbon, cocktails, and wine. All delicious. Best grits ever!

Go. Enjoy. Celebrate.

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GN
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on December 11, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 2

A bit loud for our group and we ended up shouting a bit to hear each other. Otherwise really great food and vibe.

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GM
Los Angeles
23 reviews
Dined on December 11, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 4

It’s definitely an after work watering hole. That said, the food was tasty and the bar tender (we ate at the bar) was wonderful. He shared his recommendations for food and didn’t mind that my dining partner and I didn’t drink (yes, we knew that this is a whiskey bar). Except for the fact that they’d sold out of our first choice for dessert, it was a really nice evening. Oh yeah, the host was also very gracious.

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V
1 review
Dined on December 10, 2018
Overall 4food 3service 5ambience 3

Loved the whiskey flights and the impeccable service. Some of the food options were awesome as well. I wish they had more comfortable seating :)

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IE
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on December 8, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Best Whiskey bar in SF!

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DN
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on December 4, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Love the bar at Hard Water... the service is fantastic, always. Cocktails are well made and tasty. Great food to help absorb that third Manhattan.

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KS
Minneapolis
10 reviews
Dined on November 17, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 3

Surprised at how good the food was - plus the range of Whiskey, Bourbon, Rye options. Favorite food included; Hush Puppies, Biscuit, Nashville Hot Chicken, Mac & Cheese, Brussels Sprouts. (pass on Cakes - Dry). Will recommend and go visit again - wish seating with a bit better and no restroom in restaurant - have to walk outside for it.

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AB
Central Coast
1 review
Dined on October 31, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

wonderful friendly spot, great decor for a casual spot, loved the cocktails

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G
New York Area
3 reviews
Dined on October 21, 2018
Overall 3food 1service 2ambience 5

I went for dinner with clients and they did not have a table for me. They were understaffed and the service was very slow to start (took about 15 mins to get drink order). The staff was very knowledagble though on whiskey. This is definitely not a dinner place. Best to stop in for some whiskey as they do have an excellent selection.

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A
San Francisco
22 reviews
Dined on October 11, 2018
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

Staff are super nice and accommodating. We originally had a dinner reservation for 2 but knew that 3 more people would be joining us later for drinks later. I told the hostess when we were seated and she told me it wasn't s probably, just to let her know before they came. She actually worked very hard and found us a table to move to once our friends joined us. 5 stars all around for the staff. They were fantastic.

Onto food - quite overpriced for what you got. I would say stick to drinks here. Food was very expensive and not large enough in portion to warrant the price.

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OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on October 6, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Ambiance was poppin! Music was lit! Food = 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥!! We’ll be back!

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RH
1 review
Dined on September 25, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 5

Drinks and food were great. Great Bourbon. The bartender literally chewed me out for grabbing a toothpick... ?

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OT
New York Area
1 review
Dined on September 19, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 2ambience 4

Bartender forgot my second beer, but then comped it for me, so the service recovery was great. Advise the honey fried chicken!

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RP
Las Vegas
4 reviews
Dined on September 18, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 3

When we first walked in, we thought we were in the wrong place. It's more of a bar setting than a sit down restaurant. However, when we ordered our food, we were so impressed. The fried chicken, mac and cheese, shrimp and grits, and the jambalaya are a must have. Absolutely delicious! The drinks were a bit too strong for my taste but the food was fantastic. I would recommend this place.

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MT
San Francisco
15 reviews
Dined on September 13, 2018
Overall 5food 4service 4ambience 4

I was pleasantly surprised by Hard Water’s industrial flare. The food was delicious and the bar height seating presented a laid back feel. I’ll definitely be a repeat offender.

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OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on September 13, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 3ambience 4

Lots of whiskey selections. Good for happy hour

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L
1 review
Dined on September 6, 2018
Overall 2food 3service 1ambience 4

Ambiance and drinks were good. Food was nothing special and the service was poor. Staff was not friendly or welcoming. Would not come back

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PH
San Francisco
5 reviews
Dined on August 31, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

They could use a few more umbrellas outside, but the food was great!

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PV
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on August 24, 2018
Overall 5food 4service 4ambience 5

This is for the American whiskey-lover, but the sheer range of choices, excellent bar food, and fun atmosphere takes it up several notches from just a niche concept. I've been back many times and always find something new to enjoy.

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OT
Kansas City
1 review
Dined on August 22, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Great food, great drinks. Close to the Financial District so there’s a lot of folks who come here after work.

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