1411 E. Cary St., 643-2333; 11400 W. Huguenot Road, 464-1476.
Second Place: Rappahannock
Third Place: Pescados
Everyone who loves seafood probably has tried one of the two Hard Shell locations or gone to a party or rehearsal dinner there. Both Shockoe and Midlothian shops bustle with business, and their raw bars and happy hours are after-work favorites. And lest the group have someone who doesn't love seafood, there are always beef and chicken on the menu. The folks at Richmond Restaurant Group know how to please their guests, and offer patios, fireplaces, party rooms and a staff that's hospitality-minded. Making a strong entry into the downtown seafood restaurant scene, Rappahannock comes from oyster-empire cousins Ryan and Travis Croxton, who are well known in the foodie world for prime products. Their Grace Street restaurant catches legislators and ladies who lunch, as well as theatergoers, corporate folks and those with seafood cravings. Oysters don't get any fresher. Pescados sets the standard for seafood in Midlothian, with a creative Latin take on fresh seafood dishes. Enchiladas, fish tacos and succulent specials give the long-running business an especially vibrant menu with a welcoming personality to match.