Nearby points of interest

  1. Distance: 0.29mi
  2. Distance: 0.65mi
  3. Distance: 0.72mi
  4. Distance: 0.91mi
  1. Distance: 0.29mi
  2. Distance: 0.65mi
  3. Distance: 0.72mi
  4. Distance: 0.91mi

Nearby points of interest

  1. Distance: 0.29mi
  2. Distance: 0.65mi
  3. Distance: 0.72mi
  4. Distance: 0.91mi
  1. Distance: 0.29mi
  2. Distance: 0.65mi
  3. Distance: 0.72mi
  4. Distance: 0.91mi

About Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria

Clarke Merrell's (Circa 81 Executive Chef/Proprietor) goal is for Circa 81 to provide creative, quality, & delicious food in a beautiful setting. Offering small plates that are perfect for passing around the table in true tapas style, our dishes are meant to inspire and engage our diners. So, start a conversation, relax, and enjoy a fresh take on cuisine. Clarke developed Circa 81 in hopes that guests will try something new and different and truly have a dining experience. Circa 81 offers great wine and cocktails too, with more than 30 specialty drinks on our cocktaileria menu. Our menu also includes medium and large plate selections - delicious sandwiches, homemade soups, local seafood and fresh-made desserts.

Circa 81 also offers take-out and catering - just contact us for more details.

4650 C Arendell Street
Morehead City, NC 28557
View Larger Map

Dining Style:
Casual Elegant

Cuisines:
Tapas / Small Plates, Seafood

Hours of Operation:
Monday: 11:30am - 9:00pm
Tuesday: CLOSED
Wed-Thurs: 11:30am - 9:00pm
Friday - Saturday: 11:30am - 9:30pm
Sunday Brunch: 10:30am - 2pm, full menu available all day Sunday until 9pm

Cross Street:
Across from EJW Outdoors

Dress Code:
Casual Dress

Price Range:
$30 and under

Payment Options
AMEX, MasterCard, Visa

Phone Number:
(252) 648-8300

Website:
http://www.circa81.com/

Catering:
Circa 81 offers full service catering. Let us cater your next event. We will cook and clean, and you can take all of the credit. Think of us when you are planning your next, wedding, rehearsal dinner, bridal luncheon, office party, dinner party, baby shower etc. Also popular is our drop off menu. We will drop off your food so you can eat at your own leisure. This has been a big hit for the big family beach gatherings. Email Clarke@circa-81.com or call 252.648.8300 for your catering needs. Gather, Eat, Enjoy!

Parking Details:
Big private lot. Will accommodate large vehicles

Public Transit:
Taxi Cabs (sorry MHC does not offer public transportation)

We are located 2.5 miles west of the Atlantic Beach bridge in Carteret Village Shopping Center.

Executive Chef:
Clarke Merrell

Additional:
Bar/Lounge, Beer, BYO Wine, Cocktails, Corkage Fee, Full Bar, Gluten-free Menu, Non-Smoking, Patio/Outdoor Dining, Takeout, Weekend Brunch, Wheelchair Access, Wine

Special Events & Promotions:
Host your next special event with us. We offer both private and semi-private setups for rehearsal dinners, engagement parties, baby/bridal showers or just a special celebration. Email Clarke@circa-81.com or call 252.648.8300 for details.

Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria Ratings and Reviews

5
4
3
2
1

4.8

Overall Rating

based on recent ratings
food

4.8

service

4.6

ambience

4.3

value

4.4

noise

Moderate

98% would recommend it to a friend

Tapas (25)
Fit for Foodies (18)
Creative Cuisine (18)
See All
Good for a Date (16)
Special Occasion (14)
Local Ingredients (13)
Quiet Conversation (13)
Good for Anniversaries (12)
Neighborhood Gem (11)
Handcrafted Cocktails (11)
Romantic (11)
Casual (10)
Tasting Menu (9)
Great for Brunch (8)
Worth the Drive (8)
Bar Seating (8)
Good for Birthdays (8)
Happy Hour (7)
Business Meals (7)
Fun (7)
Authentic (7)
Notable Wine List (6)
Good for Groups (6)
Cozy (5)
Sunday Lunch (5)
Great Beer (4)
Healthy (4)
Gluten Free Options (4)
Pre/post Theatre (4)
Great for Lunch (4)
Vibrant Bar Scene (4)
Quick Bite (3)
Vegan (2)
Afternoon Tea (2)
Kid-friendly (2)
Family Style (2)
Hot Spot (2)
Good Vegetarian Options (2)
Great for Outdoor Dining (2)
Comfort Food (2)
Afternoon Coffee (2)
Paleo Friendly (1)
People Watching (1)
Seasonal (1)
Organic (1)
Live Music (1)
Late-night Find (1)
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373 reviews
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·Dined on July 16, 2017

Terrific service, and best food I've had in the area this year. Overall - best experience we've had in Morehead / Beaufort area for Summer 2017. Our waitress was attentive, but not overly so. Was very quick to let us know what they were about to run out of, so we could reserve it (mac n cheese w truffles & fried soft crabs). We shared several (maybe 6?) tapas between 2 couples, and it was just right. I was impressed! And unlike too many places, it was not too loud. Easy to enjoy dinner conversation over very well-prepared food. Thank you Circa 81!

Tags: Tapas, Good for Groups, Local Ingredients
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food4
ambience4
service4
value4

 
 (Raleigh)·Dined on July 15, 2017

Great as always. Best overall restaurant in Morehead City/AB area.

Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Richmond)·Dined on July 12, 2017

Tried a bunch of different tapas and enjoyed all of them.

Tags: Healthy, Good for Groups, Quiet Conversation, Fit for Foodies, Great Beer, Gluten Free Options, Vibrant Bar Scene, Bar Seating, Business Meals, Happy Hour
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Philadelphia)·Dined on July 12, 2017

Very nice variety of tapas options to chose from and share. Food and service was excellent. This was our first visit. We will return again.

Tags: Casual, Tapas, Fit for Foodies
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food4
ambience4
service5
value4

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined on July 7, 2017

I have been going to Circ 81 for about three years now. Of course, I only go about twice a year when vacationing with my family in Atlantic Beach. We found out about it through a lady at the Beaufort Olive Oil and Vinegar Company (also highly recommended!) and found that, while pricey, the food is delicious! I cannot speak to the full meals but their tapas are wonderful! I recommend going in a modestly sized group and getting two tapas each and sharing among each other. The best, in my opinion, are the pot stickers, the sweet potato quesadilla, and the Medjool dates. Quiet and great service! The only downside is you will need a reservation. I would say make reservations a day ahead so you can get exactly the time you want.

Tags: Good for a Date, Creative Cuisine, Tapas, Quiet Conversation, Cozy, Good for Birthdays, Late-night Find, Local Ingredients, Bar Seating, Handcrafted Cocktails, Fun, Worth the Drive
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value4

vip
 (Baltimore)·Dined on July 6, 2017

Circa 81 is consistently exceptional in regards to their food and service. The specials and regular menu items are creative and prepared with fresh ingredients...when you order. The drink options are varied and carefully prepared. Our go-to restaurant for any occasion or no occasion at all. Highly recommended!

Tags: Good for a Date, Worth the Drive, Local Ingredients, Romantic, Afternoon Coffee, Healthy, Tasting Menu, Pre/post Theatre, Good for Anniversaries, Handcrafted Cocktails, Tapas, Great for Brunch, Creative Cuisine, Quiet Conversation, Vegan, Neighborhood Gem, Fit for Foodies, Great for Outdoor Dining, Special Occasion, Business Meals, Quick Bite, Bar Seating, Casual, Sunday Lunch, Notable Wine List, Good Vegetarian Options, Good for Birthdays, Cozy, Afternoon Tea, Fun, Happy Hour, Great for Lunch
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Tampa)·Dined on July 5, 2017

Food was very pricey for the size. The kids food was low quality. The best thing I ate was the in house made chips. Duck was good quality, well prepared.

Tags: Tasting Menu, Fit for Foodies, Quiet Conversation, Tapas, Business Meals
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food3
ambience1
service2
value1

 
 (Atlanta)·Dined on July 1, 2017

A must in Morehead!! Always excellent. Never disappoints.

Tags: Good for a Date, Quiet Conversation, Authentic, Neighborhood Gem, Tapas, Special Occasion, Fun, Creative Cuisine, Kid-friendly, Great Beer, Local Ingredients, Handcrafted Cocktails, Worth the Drive
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Raleigh)·Dined on June 25, 2017

Our one year wessing anniversary couldn't have been better at circa 81! Amazing food, gluten free options for me, great service and wonderful atmosphere. We will be back!

Tags: Good for Anniversaries, Creative Cuisine, Tapas, Gluten Free Options, Local Ingredients, Good for a Date, Romantic, Special Occasion, Notable Wine List, Organic
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Wilmington)·Dined on June 24, 2017

As always, the food was delicious and "a good time was had by all."

Tags: Great for Lunch, Happy Hour
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food4
ambience4
service4
value4

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined on June 22, 2017

Our first time here and we will definitely be back. Excellent food and cocktails. Love the quaintness of it.

Tags: Cozy, Romantic, Tapas, Great Beer, Handcrafted Cocktails, Casual, Fun, Notable Wine List, Hot Spot, Sunday Lunch, Quiet Conversation, Creative Cuisine
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food4
ambience4
service4
value4

 
 (Charlotte)·Dined on June 22, 2017

Moms' night out!! We chose Thursday night to take advantage of the $5.00 martinis. We ordered several items .. crab dip, pimento cheese, Brie pastry, shrimp & grits, pork tenderloin & rosemary beef. All were very good. There were 4 of us and it was plenty of food to share. A normal man would need 3 plates (tapas) himself to feel full. The ginger lemon martini was our favorite and a flavor combo we never thought to order before. It's not too sweet and very refreshing. We all agreed the pomegranate martini was too sweet. The other martinis were worth trying if you like fruity martinis. Yes, we tried all 6 or 7 on the martini list. Great night out with friends. Great drinks & good! To top it off we had a DD to drive us home.

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food5
ambience5
service5
value4

 
 (Washington DC)·Dined on June 19, 2017

the food was outstanding, the duck breast and the truffle honey tapas were particularly unbelievable. great variety and innovative tapas menu. will definitely return next time we are in the area.

Tags: Local Ingredients, Creative Cuisine, Special Occasion, Tapas, Fit for Foodies
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience4
service5
value4

 
 (Raleigh)·Dined on June 18, 2017

Dined at Circa 81 on a Sunday evening. Always one of our favorite places and it didn't disappoint this time. Joe was our server and he did a great job! The three of us each ordered 2 small plates to share: scallops special, crab dip, shrimp & grits, brussel sprouts, pot stickers, and pork belly. All were delicious and over the top! Pork belly melts in your mouth and comes served over grits. Scallops were the evening special and were awesome. Finished the meal off with chocolate cheesecake and coffee. Couldn't ask for better food or better service!

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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Wilmington)·Dined on June 18, 2017

I don't live close by, so a restaurant has to be good to visit and revisit, especially when Morehead City has many good restaurants from which to choose. Over the years, I have gone to Circa 81 for special occasions, as well as just to enjoy the food, especially the tapas. Receiving coupons also helps to keep them in mind when looking for great dining.

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Worth the Drive, Handcrafted Cocktails, Authentic
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience4
service5
value4

 
 (Raleigh)·Dined on June 16, 2017

Once again Clark and his crew provided us with a wonderful experience. Our waiter was very knowlegable regarding the menu and preparation. Bar keeper was personable, great to talk with her, a professional! Thanks

Tags: Quiet Conversation, Vibrant Bar Scene, Casual, Quick Bite, Authentic, Fit for Foodies, Fun, Paleo Friendly, Handcrafted Cocktails, Comfort Food, Great for Brunch, Creative Cuisine, Notable Wine List, Tapas, Bar Seating, Business Meals, Good for a Date, Neighborhood Gem, Local Ingredients
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Wilmington)·Dined on June 14, 2017

One of the best restaurants in Morehead City. Food is so good and service was great.

Tags: Tapas, Good for Anniversaries, Fit for Foodies, Creative Cuisine
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Western NC)·Dined on June 14, 2017

Wonderful selection of small plates. The shrimp and grit cake small plate was delicious. Hubby had the duck small plate which he loved. Service was excellent.

Tags: Great for Brunch, Local Ingredients, Tapas, Good for Anniversaries, Special Occasion
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food5
ambience4
service5
value5

 
 (Raleigh)·Dined on June 11, 2017

Circa 81 is one of our favorite restaurants. Last Sunday we both tried the special Benedict---a salmon Benedict that was absolutely delicious. I often have the Cuban Benedict, and the special Circa 81 French Toast is also one of my favorite dishes. I highly recommend this restaurant!

Tags: Worth the Drive, Good for Birthdays, Neighborhood Gem, Bar Seating, Great for Brunch
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Greensboro)·Dined on May 29, 2017

WE had a wonderful server. He made some good wine suggestions to pair with our meal. Service was quick but not rushed. My wife had the beef rosemary small plate and thoroughly enjoyed. I had the mixed grill which was good but did not have a WOW flavor. It didn't seem to have much seasoning and the tuna needed some wasabi. We will definitely go back and try other items on the menu. Since it was on a Monday it wasn't busy which was to my liking.

Tags: Good for a Date
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food4
ambience3
service5
value4

 
 (Wilmington)·Dined on May 26, 2017

In our party of four all selections were very good to excellent. The sesame tuna was remarkable. The server was friendly and helpful
The only suggestion is that it was difficult to understand the difference between the tapas and regular plates making ordering a little confusing. (This is a very minor issue).

Tags: Good for a Date, Quiet Conversation, Special Occasion, Local Ingredients
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience4
service5
value4

 
 (Washington DC)·Dined on May 22, 2017

My first experience dining at Circa 81. Would highly recommend and will definitely go back again when I'm in the area. Service was excellent and extensive menu with lots to try.

Tags: Neighborhood Gem
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Wilmington)·Dined on May 21, 2017

Brunch is amazing. Great food and great prices. We will definitely return.

Tags: Neighborhood Gem, Great for Brunch, Quiet Conversation, Good for a Date
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Philadelphia)·Dined on May 18, 2017

We were vacationing in the area and noticed an advertisement for Circa 81.
We had time to enjoy our martini before the bar area was closed for a private party.
The staff were friendly and service was good. There was plenty for f tapas choices; we chose the rosemary beef and the duck. Both were delicious. Since we were on vacation we splurged and ordered the key lime pie which was out of thIs world!!

Tags: Creative Cuisine, Tapas
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food5
ambience4
service5
value4

 
 (Raleigh)·Dined on May 12, 2017

great, adventurous cuisine along the crystal coast. in a geographic setting (Emerald Isle, Atlantic Beach, Morehead City, Beaufort) where restaurants come and go too quickly and where the quality is usually subpar and the prices over the top, Circa 81 was a breath of fresh air. Yes, it's a bit pricey, but the quality and creativity is there to match. Plus, nearly all restaurants along the coast are overpriced, so at least here you get what you pay for. The tapas setting also allows you to be adventurous, as well as spend-thrift if money is tight, or enjoy smaller portions if you're not too hungry.

Our favorites were the pork belly, crab dip, and cocktails (Caipirinha and sangria). But the dessert was absolutely fantastic. The Key Lime pie is made fresh and was, arguably, the best slice I've ever had. And the turtle cheesecake was equally delicious.

The staff was very accommodating to our gluten-free needs.

Highly recommend!

Tags: Gluten Free Options, Notable Wine List, Creative Cuisine, Good for a Date, Casual, Handcrafted Cocktails, Tasting Menu, Worth the Drive, Quiet Conversation, Good for Anniversaries, Seasonal, Special Occasion, Romantic, Authentic, Tapas, Good for Birthdays
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience3
service5
value4

 
 (Raleigh)·Dined on May 5, 2017

Wonderful food and service! A must if you are in the area! Ask for Alex-she is awesome!!!

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food5
ambience4
service5
value4

 
 (Charleston)·Dined on May 5, 2017

Our cocktails were amazing and the tapas were just as good. My friend and I had a fabulous time. We'll be back!

Tags: Tasting Menu
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

vip
 (Raleigh)·Dined on April 29, 2017

The service was excellent. Great selection of cocktails. Unique and varied tapas menu. Everything we tried was delicious.

Tags: Local Ingredients, Tapas, Romantic, Fit for Foodies, Good for a Date, Good for Anniversaries, Quiet Conversation, Creative Cuisine
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Raleigh)·Dined on April 28, 2017

Have wanted to visit this restaurant for a long time. It lived up to our expectations.

Tags: Special Occasion, Tasting Menu
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Wilmington)·Dined on April 22, 2017

Best , most moist swordfish, I've ever had. All of the small plates were delicious. Our waiter Paul was a delight.

Well worth the drive from the beach.

Tags: Bar Seating, Neighborhood Gem, Happy Hour, Healthy, Cozy, Pre/post Theatre, Quick Bite, Great for Brunch
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food5
ambience4
service5
value5

vip
 (Philadelphia)·Dined on April 16, 2017

We went to Circa 81 on a Sunday evening, where it is sometimes hard to find restaurants open in Morehead City off season - and we are glad they were open as we had a tasty, memorable, and very enjoyable dining experience. The drinks were great - generous pours and well made cocktails - and the tapas selections we made were exceptional across the board. We had been to Circa81 in the past, and thought it was a good - but not great - choice. After this time, it will now be at the top of our list!

Tags: Local Ingredients, Good for Groups, Comfort Food, Great Beer
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food5
ambience4
service5
value4

 
 (Raleigh)·Dined on April 16, 2017

Food was quite good but our server only brought 3 things at a time (it's a Tapas restaurant) and we each had something to eat or share - but the grouping was not as we'd have wished. However, we didn't understand that we should have been very specific at the beginning. so know what you want when! And ask for HOT coffee if that is what you want. Our decaf was cool. ..they happily corrected it.

Tags: Tasting Menu
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food4
ambience3
service3
value3

 
 (Raleigh)·Dined on April 15, 2017

Wonderful dining experience!

Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

vip
 (Raleigh)·Dined on April 14, 2017

This was a pleasant surprise for my family and me. My kids loved this place as well.
The food was authentically delicious!! The service was excellent, and wow! the homemade desserts were to die for. We loved it!! This is a must-go-to place, whenever we visit Morehead City again.

Tags: Tasting Menu, Good for Anniversaries, Worth the Drive, Authentic, Fit for Foodies, Local Ingredients, Neighborhood Gem, Good for a Date, Special Occasion, Kid-friendly, Gluten Free Options, Tapas, Casual
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Raleigh)·Dined on April 14, 2017

One of the best meals I have ever had! Brussel sprouts are awesome! Trying to figure out how to duplicate the sauce. The duck was cooked to perfection. Will definitely go back when I visit Morehead again!

Tags: Special Occasion, Good for Groups, Vegan, Casual, Creative Cuisine, Handcrafted Cocktails, Business Meals, Good Vegetarian Options, Romantic, Good for a Date
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Atlanta)·Dined on April 10, 2017

Always amazing. Never disappoints. Our favorite place to eat at the beach!

Tags: Tapas
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Raleigh)·Dined on April 9, 2017

We very much enjoyed our meal at Circa 81. We thought the mojitos were yummy esp the ginger one. The restaurant was very quiet. We ordered many small tapas and the crab was the best. We will probably visit again.

Tags: Good for Anniversaries, Creative Cuisine, Fit for Foodies
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food4
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Raleigh)·Dined on April 8, 2017

One of our favorite restaurants on the Crystal Coast. They have large plates and nightly specials but we almost always order from the tapas menu. Some of our favorites: the Chef's Tour of cheese and charcuterie, gambas al ajillo (shrimp, garlic, olive oil), medjool dates (with bacon and chevre), pot stickers, Brussel sprouts. Consistently excellent service.

Tags: Pre/post Theatre, Good for Anniversaries, Fit for Foodies, Happy Hour, Creative Cuisine, Handcrafted Cocktails, Tapas, Neighborhood Gem, Bar Seating
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience4
service5
value5

vip
 (Columbus)·Dined on April 3, 2017

Jamie was a fantastic server. We had the she crab soup, the truffle pork belly, and the mixed grill. Everything was amazing! Go there. Do it.

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food5
ambience5
service5

vip
 (Raleigh)·Dined on March 31, 2017

Although there are some great places to get your local NC fried seafood in AB, Circa 81 sets the bar for dining in AB. Wife and I had another great experience and we've been to dozens of local spots. Great cocktails, NC cheese plate, pork, shrimp, and the she crab soup tonight. Doesn't matter if you're doing a date night, family night, bunch or just want a killer drink C81 has always been our go to.

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food5
ambience4
service5
value5

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