The Hard Shell - Downtown

4.5
1401 Reviews
$31 to $50
Seafood
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. With a new fresh look; The Hard Shell features sleek booths, lots of light and a vibrant city feel. The Hard Shell has Richmond's widest variety of fresh and local seafood. Menu items include signatures such as filet and lobster, shrimp and scallops, lump crab cakes. Patio request honored when possible but tables are first come, first served. Private dining & reservations are available. Dress is casual.

Support The Hard Shell - Downtown during COVID-19

Safety precautions

Cleaning & Sanitizing
  • Surfaces sanitized between seatings
  • Common areas deep cleaned daily
  • Digital, disposable or sanitized menu provided
  • Sanitizer or wipes provided for customers
Physical Distancing
  • Limited number of seated diners
  • Distancing maintained in common areas
  • Extra space between tables
Protective Equipment
  • Waitstaff wear masks
  • Diners must wear masks unless eating or drinking
Screening
  • Sick staff prohibited in the workplace
What 1401 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
4.5
food
4.6
service
4.4
ambience
4.2
value
Noise · Moderate
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RN
RachelN
1 review
Dined a day ago
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Absolutely loved this place first time going there and would most definitely go back!

PD
PeterD
1 review
Dined 2 days ago
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great lunch! Food was excellent as was the service. Highly recommend to anyone visiting Richmond!

DF
DinnerFan2
Richmond
1 review
Dined 2 days ago
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Taylor our server was awesome! We will return again.

EQ
ElizabethQ
Chicago
2 reviews
Dined on October 2, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Brandon the bartender was a rockstar! Our waiter Vincent was very attentive. And our food was delicious! We are in town visiting our son and we will definitely return!

A
vipAron
Richmond
1 review
Dined on October 1, 2021
Overall3food2service4ambience4

Positives: the Chesapeake oysters were sublime! The server was very friendly and made sure that each dishe came out at the appropriate time.

Negatives: our mahi-mahi and scallop entrees were overcooked and flavorless, the she crab soup consisted of a bowl of luke warm cream with small bits of crabs, and the crab cakes were mediocre.

We’ve had excellent meals at the downtown hard shell many times throughout the pandemic and previously, but the poor food preparation on this occasion was disappointing.

MG
MarGo
Richmond
1 review
Dined on October 1, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience4

The food was incredible…generous and just outstanding. It was cooked to perfection. The brussel sprouts appetizer cannot be described in words…applause perhaps but silence with the look of utter sensation on my face. Both seafood meals were superb. The veggies on my scallops and shrimp were outstanding. Our waitress with the VERY best…friendly, enthusiastic but not overly, knowledgeable, and lovely. The Hard Shell is a soon to return to in Richmond next time. Bravo and thank you!

DJ
DJCOOLCLIFF
1 review
Dined on September 28, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Really nice and laid back plus classy vibe! Food was amazing and brought out in a timely manner!

N
Nisler
Richmond
7 reviews
Dined on September 23, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

We loved Taylor, our server. Food is always good and servings are adequate. BUT we were seated in the banquet room and the temperature was so hot I was uncomfortable throughout the evening. As a mother of fact it was so hot that seat caused a bandaid on my forehead to move from the sweat.

AH
vipAmberH
Houston
27 reviews
Dined on September 18, 2021
Overall4food4service5ambience4

Service was great. Place was loud.

FB
FaithB
1 review
Dined on September 18, 2021
Overall5food4service5ambience5

We got exceptional service from Jennifer. Food was decent and wait time was short for food.

MA
MaryAnnF
Chicago
1 review
Dined on September 17, 2021
Overall5food4service5ambience5

Reservation was for 6:00 on a Friday night. At that hour, it was very conversation-friendly. Server was attentive and well-informed. Food was a little underwhelming/bland, IMHO. But overall a great experience.

KB
KarenB
Pittsburgh
1 review
Dined on September 11, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Food was great. Staff was excellent and they even gave us a free dessert for our wedding anniversary.

CR
CharlotteR
1 review
Dined on September 11, 2021
Overall3food2service4ambience4

The service was great. The seafood was wonderful. The vegetables on both our plates were sent out cold. They offered to fix this but I wasn't feeling like waiting. They did comp our desert and discounted my meal. That was fair in my opinion. The only reason they didn't get more stars is that I expected alot more.

MC
vipMightyCasey
Richmond
36 reviews
Dined on August 31, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great lunch - can't wait to go back!

d
vipdutchessnancy
New York Area
74 reviews
Dined on August 25, 2021
Overall4food5service4ambience3

We started with the Chesapeake oysters which were outstanding.
My husband had the special swordfish with tomato and basil. He loved the crispy fish.
I had the poached lobster tail with lemon butter. It satisfied my craving for lobster
The chocolate truffle torte could have been more moist and more raspberry sauce.
The service was very good and attentive.
As all restaurants these days it was very loud.

OT
OpenTable Diner
Richmond
4 reviews
Dined on August 21, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Celebrating Marlene’s 70th birthday. The food was absolutely delicious. Staff was wonderful and not one person complained.

OT
OpenTable Diner
Washington DC
2 reviews
Dined on August 19, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Our experience at the hard shell was a solid 10/10 from beginning to end. Our waitress was super attentive and sweet. My husband and I went to celebrate our anniversary & a great night! Definitely recommend

OT
OpenTable Diner
1 review
Dined on August 19, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Delicious food and very friendly staff

JT
JaleesaT
1 review
Dined on August 18, 2021
Overall5food5service4ambience5

My husband really enjoyed his birthday dinner. The wait staff was very attentive and even volunteered to take a photo for us. I can't wait to go back!

LR
LauraR
Cincinnati
5 reviews
Dined on August 17, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience3

Great lunch. Too loud. Service was good.

E
Emma
Miami
3 reviews
Dined on August 14, 2021
Overall3food4service2ambience4

Lots of items out of stock. Waiter pretty clueless, gave our drinks to another table by mistake but didn’t let us know, waited for us to ask where our drinks were before he explained what had happened. Food was pretty good.

JC
JeanetteC
Richmond
1 review
Dined on August 14, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Absolutely outstanding! Fantastic service and food! Beautiful place.
We loved it and will be back!

CP
vipCliftonP
Washington DC
9 reviews
Dined on August 13, 2021
Overall4food4service5ambience5

Seated us later and were very gracious!

CB
vipCatieB
Richmond
6 reviews
Dined on August 13, 2021
Overall2food1service4ambience4

All the food was average at best . The rockfish had this ridiculously hard outer crust I couldn’t bite in to. Calamari was soggy . Creme brulee was super undercooked , consistency was like scrambled eggs and tasted similar . Not creamy at all. Gave me the bill with cream and sugar, forgot the decaf coffee. Will not be returning any time soon

C
vipClarkburg
Washington DC
12 reviews
Dined on August 12, 2021
Overall3food3service5ambience4

Hard Shell is our go to seafood restaurant in RVA. Last night we had to send the Spiced Shrimp back because it was undercooked. Disappointed. They used to serve the best, now I’ve lost confidence in the food and food prep. Brian, our server, made it right with discount and over and above service. Still, not sure it’s enough.

S
vipSnowellen
Tampa
66 reviews
Dined on August 10, 2021
Overall2food3service3ambience1

EXTREMELY noisy. No rugs or tapestries on the wall to absorb sound. We were literally yelling at each other to converse. We had a dozen oysters as appetizers, then placed our dinner order. We hadn't eaten two oysters yet and the waitress brought our dinner to which I expressed dismay. She said because they had two large parties the kitchen staff was hurrying to get food orders out. The calamari was good. My fish tacos were lukewarm, horrible presentation, as evidenced by ingredients being thrown in to the soggy tortilla and spilling out all over the plate. There was hardly any grouper in each taco, and more pickled red onions than anything else. Huge disappointment.

KW
KaylaW
1 review
Dined on August 7, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

food was delicious. service was great. would definitely return!!!

R
Ronnie
Richmond
6 reviews
Dined on August 7, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

I will definitely be back!!

M
Mike
Richmond
11 reviews
Dined on August 5, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience4

Birthday celebration

OT
OpenTable Diner
Richmond
1 review
Dined on July 31, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Good food and great service

P
vipPhotobulb
Washington DC
53 reviews
Dined on July 30, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Lobster tail was amazing, as were the bacon-wrapped Brussel sprouts and crab cakes. The Key lime pie was better than in Key West, Florida.

GC
GayleC
1 review
Dined on July 28, 2021
Overall2food1service5ambience2

I was disappointed. I was expecting a classier restaurant for my husband's birthday. It was more of a bar atmosphere.
The food was truly awful. My rice tasted like soap. The pineapple was not ripe. I paid $70+ for mostly vegetables.
We won't be back.

k
vipkat24
Philadelphia
54 reviews
Dined on July 28, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Visiting Richmond for the first time. The food here was excellent and our waiter was very attentive. I highly recommend the Hard Shell.

i
vipihero
Cleveland
1 review
Dined on July 27, 2021
Overall1food2service2ambience1

Mediocre and the table had chips out of the laminate. Not upscale, but if I was looking for an expensive dive this would be it.

JC
JodiC
Chicago
1 review
Dined on July 23, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Everything was great from the service to the ambience to the food! I actually appreciated the noise level; not too loud to where you couldn’t hear your table’s conversation but loud enough that the tables close by weren’t an interruption. The calamari is a must try. I had a fish special which was delicious. Our guests had the 6 oz filet, shrimp and scallops, and ribs which were all reportedly perfect and delicious. We were served cheesecake for my father’s birthday which was amazing and a great complimentary end to the evening.

BD
BillD
Richmond
1 review
Dined on July 22, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Taylor was our server and she was fantastic. Very professional, personable and attentive. Outstanding service and excellent food. From a menu perspective it was disappointing that the Cary Street location does not offer happy hour and half priced appetizers like the sister restaurant at Bellegrade. Still, all in all very good.

WB
vipWBranham
Washington DC
37 reviews
Dined on July 20, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Always perfect

JS
vipJohnS
Richmond
3 reviews
Dined on July 17, 2021
Overall4food4service5ambience5

Four girls at table next to us were very very loud. Had to move to another table but the staff accommodated us no problem.

PL
PrestonL
New York Area
3 reviews
Dined on July 16, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

The Hard Shell has become our favorite restaurant in Richmond, which we visit frequently.
The food and service are always top notch. The ambiance is unpretentiously chic.
Every appetizer and meal has been prepared perfectly.
I feel the prices are very reasonable for this level of quality and service.
Highly recommended!

R
vipRusty902
New York Area
38 reviews
Dined on July 14, 2021
Overall4food3service5ambience3

The clams were very small so they discounted them. The tuna was tough, couldn’t easily cut it. Lobster & rockfish were great and so was Ryan, our waiter.

FAQs

You can order delivery directly from The Hard Shell - Downtown using the Order Online button. The Hard Shell - Downtown also offers takeout which you can order by calling the restaurant at (804) 643-2333.

The Hard Shell - Downtown is rated 4.5 stars by 1401 OpenTable diners.

Yes, you can generally book this restaurant by choosing the date, time and party size on OpenTable. Due to local restrictions, this restaurant may not be accepting reservations at the moment.