Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria

4.7
453 reviews
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$30 and under
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Tapas / Small Plates
Top Tags:
  • Tapas
  • Good for Anniversaries
  • Creative Cuisine
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.
Dining Style
Casual Elegant
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Cuisines
Tapas / Small Plates, Seafood
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Hours of operation
Mon, Wed, Thu 11:30 am–9:00 pm
Fri, Sat 11:30 am–9:30 pm
Sun 2:00 pm–8:00 pm
Brunch
Sun 10:30 am–2:00 pm
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Phone number
(252) 648-8300
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Payment options
AMEX, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
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Dress code
Casual Dress
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Executive chef
Clarke Merrell
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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!
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Cross street
Across from EJW Outdoors
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Parking details
Big private lot. Will accommodate large vehicles
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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.
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
What 453 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.7based on recent ratings
4.7
food
4.7
service
4.5
ambience
4.6
value
Noise · Moderate
93% of people would recommend it to a friend
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5.0Dined 2 days ago

Promptly seated. Menu updated since the last time we were here. Josh in the kitchen did an excellent job with the tapas we ordered (black bean quesadilla, baked brie, potato crisps, ceviche, the mixed grill). Paul C was excellent as our server. We’ll be back. :)

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5.0Dined on June 16, 2018

Our dining experience at Circa 81 was wonderful in every respect. The food was prepared perfectly, presented skillfully, and absolutely delicious. My wife and I shared the Baked Brie with Pepper Jelly as an appetizer. We each had the house salad. My wife had ranch dressing on her salad. I requested blue cheese. Our server said they might not have blue cheese dressing, but when the salad was served she told us the kitchen made some just for my order. My wife had the pork belly from the tapas menu and I had chicken served on pasta with asparagus and a Gorgonzola cream sauce. We shared a chocolate creme brûlée for dessert. Wow! Every dish from the appetizer to the dessert was exceptional. As great as the food was, the service may actually have been the high point of the evening. Our server, Jamie, was superb...knowledgeable, attentive, immediately responsive to our every need, and just a very engaging person. Simply said, Circa 81 is one of the best restaurants in eastern North Carolina.

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5.0Dined on June 8, 2018

Fantastic!!!!!

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5.0Dined on June 2, 2018

Perfect, excellent food and service

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5.0Dined on May 28, 2018

Absolutely delicious tapas. Roasted duck was some of the best I've ever had. The cocktails aren't world class, but they also don't break the bank so drink up!

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5.0Dined on May 28, 2018

Food was fantastic, especially the mixed grill. We'll be back!

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5.0Dined on May 27, 2018

Fantastic experience again!!!

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5.0Dined on May 13, 2018

Always amazed at how they keep the all around five star experience fresh. The Server, Joe, was very attentive and personable with a great sense of humor. Hostess also continued to check on us throughout the meal. Usually a Hostess greets, seats, and says goodbye when you leave. On several occasions a Chef delivered our Tapas. Beautiful teamwork concept, no doubt instilled by Chef Merrell, Owner and Operator. Oh by the way, I should pay homage to the Bartender, as the drink are always inventive and awesome. Can’t leave without saying there must be new talent in the kitchen. The menu is become better and more varied. Hard to reinvent perfection. The special with the House made Gravlax was off the charts.

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5.0Dined on May 13, 2018

Our service and food was outstanding. We have visited Circa 81 on several occasions and have learned to expect a nice dining experience. Can’t go wrong.

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4.0Dined on May 13, 2018

The food was good, but the service was lack; waited too long for our food and waitress only checked up on us a few times.

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5.0Dined on May 12, 2018

Open table reservation had us seated on arrival! Great food great service and fun servers! Highly recommend

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5.0Dined on May 4, 2018

One of our favorite places to eat in Morehead! We love all different specials and can always find something new to try.

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5.0Dined on April 28, 2018

We were celebrating our anniversary. Our waitress was very helpful in explaining the menu and how to order (since we were new to tapas). The menu is full of exciting options. The wine list is outstanding.

We have highly recommended Circa 81 to several of our friends.
Hope to see you again soon.

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5.0Dined on April 25, 2018

Food & Service always top notch! I had the Circa 81 Club which was perfect!

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5.0Dined on April 21, 2018

We went for a quite date/ light dinner and it was very nice! Prices are reasonable, tapas selection nice, presentation beautiful, wine selection good as well. The only thing I didn’t like was the Brussels sprouts- way too acidic. Duck and pork belly tapas were wonderful though! Will definitely go again

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5.0Dined on April 21, 2018

Amber was phenomenal. We’ve had many meals here. Food is the best at the beach in my opinion.

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5.0Dined on April 14, 2018

Same review as always ... best tapas on the Crystal Coast. Just won the award for "Best Bite" at Morehead City's annual "Blues & Bites" event. Wait staff is always friendly and efficient.

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5.0Dined on April 13, 2018

The tables are so close together it’s difficult for the wait staff to place food without leaning on other tables.

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4.0Dined on April 12, 2018

Restaurant was very quiet and not crowded at all. Quickly seated and server appeared. Started with small plate of NC cheeses and one of NC ham. Both dishes were very tasty. Second dish arrived too quickly. Should have waited for us to finish the first small plates. I had tuna special and my wife had the pork belly and grits. Both dishes were delicious but plated poorly. My dish, which had to be cut, was served in a very small high sided dish. Difficult to cut food and impossible to get our peas without holding bowl on the side. Hot crab dip was also very good. Finished off with creme brûlée and coffee. A very pleasant dining experience.

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5.0Dined on April 1, 2018

Wonderful food and service!!!

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4.0Dined on March 30, 2018

Circa is always great. We eat there often. Only complaint is that the wait staff needs to bone up on their knowledge of their wine offerings. It’s purely hit and miss when asking for recommendation.

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3.0Dined on March 29, 2018

Good food, small tables, small portions, big prices, $8.99 child meals that aren't even big enough to feed a kid, and prepare to know everyone's business because they practically seat you on top of your neighbors.

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4.0Dined on March 23, 2018

Food is always great. I just wish the wait staff was more knowledgeable about the wine selection. Been there the past two Friday nights in a row, had different servers, and neither knew anything about the specifics of any of the selections. They know the menu, just don’t know the wines. Otherwise great.

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5.0Dined on March 17, 2018

Just your normal every day five star experience.

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5.0Dined on March 17, 2018

Birthday everyone enjoyed everything.

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5.0Dined on March 15, 2018

Order a bunch and the staff did a good job of the order they came out and the timing

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5.0Dined on March 1, 2018

Everything was the usual 5 star experience in all categories except service. Pretty sure that server will receive further training very soon.

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5.0Dined on February 25, 2018

Circa 81 is by far the nest restaurant in the Crystal Coast area. Thoughtful, local, creative food and outstanding cocktails. Try the ginger mojito or any of the freshly made sangria!

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5.0Dined on February 25, 2018

Excellent brunch and mimosa! Server, I believe his name was Kelly was outstanding. Shawn also came by the table to check on us - another great server!

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5.0Dined on February 23, 2018

We celebrated my birthday at Circa on Friday; had a wonderful and diverse selection of tapas and a great Cabernet. Our waitperson was Jaimie and she timed all of our various tapas dishes perfectly and was attentive without being in the way. We always go to Circa for important celebrations because we know the food and service will create an occasion to remember.

lea

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5.0Dined on February 18, 2018

We love this restaurant. Our service experience on our most recent visit was not up to par with our normal experiences. We think they were short handed and so the bartender was waiting tables in addition to bar tending. But the food and atmosphere are wonderful! We will continue going back for great food, cocktails, and wine!

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5.0Dined on February 16, 2018

We had an amazing dinner as always!

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5.0Dined on February 12, 2018

It’s been a few months since I’ve eaten there because I live in Raleigh and have a place in Emerald Isle. Always amazed at how they keep the all around five star experience fresh. The Server was very attentive and personable with a great sense of humor. Hostess also continued to check on us throughout the meal. Usually a Hostess greets, seats, and says goodbye when you leave. On several occasions a Chef delivered our Tapas. Beautiful teamwork concept, no doubt instilled by Chef Merrell, Owner and Operator. Oh by the way, I should pay homage to the Bartender, as the drink are always inventive and awesome. Can’t leave without saying there must be new talent in the kitchen. The menu is become better and more varied. Hard to reinvent perfection.

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5.0Dined on February 11, 2018

I have never been disappointed at this restaurant. They are fantastic and remain my favorite restaurant in all of Carteret County!

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5.0Dined on February 10, 2018

We went for our anniversary and felt special from the moment we walked in. Alex Ortiz, the bartender made the best martini I have ever had and Jonathan Meadows made sure we felt cared for and appreciated. Kudos to such a fine staff, excellent food and a perfect evening!

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5.0Dined on February 8, 2018

I love this restaurant it never disappoints!
The food and drinks are great.

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5.0Dined on February 4, 2018

Everything was great. Service, cocktails and service were outstanding.

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5.0Dined on February 3, 2018

Our new favorite local place. Great food, selection and good value.

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5.0Dined on February 3, 2018

We love to share small plates and have lots of variety. Sean was our server again and he was again a great server. Dessert is a winner also. Beer was colder this visit, so I was a totally happy dinner guest.

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5.0Dined on January 31, 2018

Great place with good food. They are happy to make changes to the menu items to suit you. Nice place for a quiet meal if you want to talk.

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