About Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria
Morehead City, NC 28557
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.
Tapas / Small Plates, Seafood
Hours of Operation:
Monday: 11:30am - 9:00pm
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
Across from EJW Outdoors
$30 and under
AMEX, MasterCard, Visa
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!
Big private lot. Will accommodate large vehicles
Taxi Cabs (sorry MHC does not offer public transportation)
We are located 2.5 miles west of the Atlantic Beach bridge.
Bar Dining, Beer, BYO Wine, Corkage Fee, Farm to Table, Full Bar, Gluten-free Menu, Non-Smoking, 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
We actually tried most everything on the ...
We actually tried most everything on the menu with our party of 6! I have dined at many restaurants across the country....this is my favorite!!! Try the pork belly, truffle Mac and cheese and the SEARED TUNA EVEN IF U DON'T like it normally!!! Amazing place
Have eaten here repeatedly over the last ...
Have eaten here repeatedly over the last several years. Our family and friends enjoy it as well. Service is always excellent, food well prepared and reservations in a beach community a real plus. We always order tapas and have rarely been disappointed. Nice variety with something for everyone and easily shared portions. Not inexpensive but a special night out.
We frequent this restaurant and have alw ...
We frequent this restaurant and have always had amazing service and the food is top notch. During this visit our service was more than lacking. Our drinks weren't refilled regularly and our server was generally inattentive. The food was great as usual! Love this restaurant and I hope the poor service we had this time doesn't become a pattern.
This is a favorite of ours. We are seaso ...
This is a favorite of ours. We are seasonal visitors to Morehead but have family in the area. On our previous visit, a year ago, we brought 25 people for a celebration and Circa 81 handled it beautifully.
Last week we returned. I had she crab soup-excellent, octopus-ok I guess, duck breast-best I've had outside Paris, charred pork belly-delicious! Chocolate cheesecake-very good. All hot dishes were served HOT, which I like. Service was careful and courteous. The house Pinot Grigio and Cabernet Sauvignon were fine and the pour was generous.
It's a good place.
The tapas are American size - delicious ...
The tapas are American size - delicious and large!
We started with deconstructed shrimp & grits, hot crab dip & pita and bacon wrapped dates stuffed with goat cheese. Each and every one a flavorful mouth explosion!
Adding a salad would have made a perfect meal but no, we ordered the evening special of an encrusted pork chop served with sweet potato purée, purple cauliflower & broccolini. Sensory overload ensued - not to mention the loosening of a belt notch!
Can. Not. Wait. To. Go. Back!
So many more things to try!
Our server made the evening a gastronomic fun evening.!
this was another great dining experience ...
this was another great dining experience at Circa 81. We choose this restaurant for our 12th anniversary dinner. We requested a booth that we really like and we were accommodated. The waitress provided good service along with other waitstaff. The food was very good with a great presentation.
Service was slow and food was served ran ...
Service was slow and food was served randomly in no particular order. Caprese salad was good and cold. She Crab soup lacked crab and was too creamy. If there were any chopped walnuts in the savory baked Brie, they were hiding.
Food was great. Took a but longer than e ...
Food was great. Took a but longer than expected to get the second round of tapas since we ordered them all together but the food more than made up for the wait. Watermelon mojito was very good and the sangria was good as well. We'll be back for sure.
Four of us had dinner had dinner there o ...
Four of us had dinner had dinner there on a recent Saturday Night. It was wonderful, the specials, Tapas, the complete menu. Two of us were retired from the Hospitality Industry, one a CIA Trained Chef, and me, Hotelier. Clarke, the owner, shows creativity, style and substance in his craft. We enjoy Circa-81
Our food as usual was excellent. Our ser ...
Our food as usual was excellent. Our server seemed to be having problems. One of our dishes was delivered by a different server as we were finishing our meal. Also, a second glass of wine came 10-15 minutes after ordering and was delivered by yet another server. Someone else refilled water glasses. Original server brought the bills and 2 of them were wrong. As good as the food was, it was a shame that service was so poor. Have been before and had perfect service so hopefully this was a one time occurrence.
Overall, we really like Circa 81.....one ...
Overall, we really like Circa 81.....one of our top three favorite restaurants in the area. However, our last visit, we felt really rushed.....wait staff may want to slow down a bit. We are aware of the importance of table turnover, but when my husband was not quite finished with one of his dishes, someone came by and whisked the plate away (in a hurry, without asking)....he had turned to talk to our friend, with his fork in the air, and looked down and the plate was gone. Staff was accommodating about replacing it. Just remember to please ask if someone is finished with their plate before taking it away. We realize it was a holiday weekend, and the place was packed, but......
We love this place.....this was a rare experience for us, but not a big deal....just annoying. We will continue to enjoy Circa 81. Servers continue to be excellent, as is the food. And, we love the ambiance.
My wife and I took a break from our sons ...
My wife and I took a break from our sons and grandchildren while vacationing at the Beach. We searched online for a restaurant that served local seafood as well as other entrees. Circa 81 also served tapas items which we both enjoy. I had the shrimp and grits and a crab cake from the tapas menu along with a house salad. The shrimp were local and fresh, served with a couple of grit cakes and a light creamy sauce. Most importantly the shrimp were not over cooked. The crab cake seemed more like a deviled crab filling than a flakey Maryland style crab cake that I prefer. Not bad but not my favorite. We shared an excellent vacant wrapped cheese filled date appetizer. My wife ordered the special of the evening (lamb chops and scallops) and it was great. Well prepared and beautifully presented on a rectangular piece of slate. The service was excellent with just the correct amount of attention.
Haven't been to Circa in a while but wan ...
Haven't been to Circa in a while but wanted to celebrate a Birthday with some great food. Definitely met expectations. Menu had changed some since our last visit. Calamari was gone, but garlic shrimp was added. Good call; best garlic shrimp we've had since Spain, 20+ years ago! Desert (Blueberry yum-yum) was delicious. Only drawback was a limited salad selection; could have used a simple side salad, since the other selections were just too large for our tastes. Otherwise, great visit.
It's difficult to find restaurants that ...
It's difficult to find restaurants that have vegetarian options when visiting my family in NC. Thank goodness for Circa 81! I must be the lone vegetarian in North Carolina when I visit. So many options for me! Even my dad, a meat and potatoes kind of guy, enjoyed his meal. And he is very difficult to please.
At the table, collectively, we had: Caprese salad, She-Crab soup, Crab dip, Brussels sprouts, Truffle mac and cheese, potstickers and the kids pizza. Everyone enjoyed everything.
Service was very pleasant. Atmosphere, lovely. What a find! I felt like I was back in NYC.
This was a nice meal and different than ...
This was a nice meal and different than what we had at other local restaurants while on vacation on the coast of NC, a good change of pace.
I had the beef and my husband had tuna nachos, both were quite good. We also had the bread which was not as good as I hoped it would be. The cocktails were very good, no light pour at this restaurant!
I would recommend Circa 81 as a good change of pace to others visiting the area on vacation, to escape the hustle and bustle of the more touristy areas.
This was not our first time at Circa81; ...
This was not our first time at Circa81; we reserve dining there for special occasions because the food experience is so unique. We always order the "small plates" or tapas so we can taste the many skills of the chef. Last night the two shrimp dishes we ordered were particularly good: flavorful and seasoned beautifully. I don't know why we keep ordering the dates....perhaps because they sound so exotic--but we always say afterwards that they were too sweet, like caramel candy. The potatoes Brava were excellent, and the mac and cheese was unique and tasty. The chef's take on Shrimp 'n grits was really good.
It's an expensive evening if your can't control your desire to taste a lot of different dishes...the plus side: there's enough food to share among 4 people. We love eating there!!
This was our second visit. My husband an ...
This was our second visit. My husband and I love craft beer, good wine, and cheese boards and Circa 81 has a great selection of all of these things along with unique combinations of foods on their extensive small plates menu. We have yet to try something we didn't love! The chef is also the owner and takes great pride in his work. He came out at the end of our meal to make sure we enjoyed everything! We hope to try the brunch soon!
Great evening at this fun restaurant. We ...
Great evening at this fun restaurant. We were a party of 8 and half the group had never been to the restaurant. Our waitress explained the different sized plates and assisted with our ordering process. While there may have been a long wait to get our cocktail order placed--perhaps due to a question about a particular liqueur on hand--once our food order was placed there was no trouble with timing on any other part of our meal. This is a great testament to the cook staff. We ordered specials, small and large plates--all came out together, hot, and delicious. This restaurant consistently pleases with innovative dishes and good service. Great ambiance. We'll be back.
Very disappointed; won't be back. There ...
Very disappointed; won't be back. There was minimal A/C and the place was packed, noise level very high and the lighting so dim I needed a flashlight to read the menu. Portions are VERY small and some of the food we ordered never made it to our table, but we were charged for it anyway (the charges were removed when we pointed it out). I can't believe they charged $1 a slice of bread ( which they cut in half). Despite a bill of $140 we went home feeling hungry and raided the fridge.
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