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  • Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria

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Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria
Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria
  • Address:
    4650 C Arendell Street
    Morehead City, NC 28557
    Beaufort / Morehead City
  • Cuisine:
    Tapas / Small Plates
    Price: $30 and under

Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria Details

  • Dining Style: Casual Elegant
  • Website: http://www.circa-81.com
  • Phone: (252) 648-8300
  • Hours of Operation: Lunch: Monday - Sunday: 11:30am - 5:00pm; Dinner: Sunday - Thursday: 5:00pm - 9:00pm, Friday - Saturday: 5:00pm - 9:30pm; Brunch: Sunday: 10:30am - 5:00pm
  • Payment Options: AMEX, MasterCard, Visa
  • Cuisine: Tapas / Small Plates, Seafood
  • Executive Chef: Clarke Merrell
  • Dress Code: Casual Dress
  • Accepts Walk-Ins: Yes
  • Additional Details: Bar Dining, Beer, Farm to Table, Full Bar, Gluten-free Menu, Non-Smoking Area, Non-Smoking Restaurant, Patio/Outdoor Dining, Personal wines welcome (corkage fee applies), Takeout, Weekend Brunch, Wheelchair Access, Wine, Wine Bar
  • 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!
  • 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.

Getting there

  • Cross Street: Across from EJW Outdoors
  • Public Transit: Taxi Cabs (sorry MHC does not offer public transportation) We are located 2.5 miles west of the Atlantic Beach bridge.
  • Parking: Private Lot
  • Parking Details: Big private lot. Will accommodate large vehicles
A word from 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.Continued
Foodspotting photos
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Awards voted by OpenTable diners
  • Diners' Choice WinnerBest Overall
  • Diners' Choice WinnerBest Food
  • Diners' Choice WinnerBest Service
Diner Reviews
  • "This weekend Circa 81 returned to its usual outstanding rep and performance:great drinks,service and out of this world benedict florentine with the best grits I've ever had! We will be sure to return several times on our vacation to Emerald Isle next year."
    Dined on 8/17/2014
  • "Our dinner party of 4 had glass of pinot grigio, beer and a Brazilian cocktail (voted delicious.) She crab soup got 5 stars, pot stickers were also excellent. Crab cakes were a bit disappointing but not bad -- a bit too much filler. Seared tuna salad was excellent. Calamari okay, a bit too done. Service was a little slow but not terrible. We would all go back -- might try the Sunday brunch. Prices were in line with food quality and we would definitely recommend for those wanting something different from fried seafood, steak etc etc. All in all a very nice outing!"
    Dined on 8/12/2014
  • "We had an amazing birthday dinner at Circa. We ordered a wide variety of tapas and some large plates. We also tried 3 different special cocktails. The tapas were diverse and yet all consistently good to great. We particularly enjoyed the seafood Mac n cheese (big generous chunks of seafood), the duck breast (we've had a lot of duck at fancy places throughout the country and this was some of the most perefectly cooked), bacon wrapped dates (delightful bites of big flavor), Asian tacos (pork belly in steamed buns a la momofuku), and the pork ramen (amazing broth...I am a ramen nut and this was really good). If Circa was in Raleigh it would be our favorite restaurant. Go try it!"
    Dined on 8/11/2014
  • "Great brunch with only fair to good service on a busy Sunday asking repeatedly for condiments,straws,etc but she was trying I must say.Two of four egg orders were overlooked and two were perfect as if some were left under the hot lamp too long. Drinks also took a long time. Two parties coming in after ours were done before we were even served our main course.Despite all this we will be back because our past experiences here have been FANTASTIC and perhaps they were short staffed this day.One bad at bat doesn't make a career!"
    Dined on 8/10/2014
  • "Nestled in a rather nondescript cul-de-sac, Circa 81 is a real 'find' in an area top heavy with fast food joints. The menu is outstanding (small plates - tapas - to full entrees to suit every palate and appetite), excellent cocktails (the Circa 81 martini is a must), a good range of reasonably priced wines and beer. Wait staff are knowledgeable and friendly and the service is fast. About $30 a head for dinner with a drink and dessert (splendid choices). Make a point of visiting this culinary gem at the beach."
    Dined on 8/7/2014
  • "Great local spot that offers tapas. We were able to try many different items and enjoyed every item we had. I suggest this place to anyone visiting Atlantic beach area!!"
    Dined on 8/6/2014
  • "Couldn't wait to try the small plates as described in Circa 81's on-line menu! My husband had the she crab soup which was one of the best he ever had. Our terrific waitress steered our choices which was very much appreciated since all the menu choices sounded so appealing. The shrimp and grits were spicy fantastic and the calamari was crunchy good! This is a great place for anyone who enjoys trying different foods; the prices are fair, drinks terrific; and the waitresses so helpful."
    Dined on 8/3/2014
  • "A must visit tapos place in Morehead City, NC. The food, service, atmospher are exceptional."
    Dined on 8/3/2014
  • "Dimly lit, quiet, nice selection of wine and drinks. Candles on the table, very nice."
    Dined on 8/1/2014
  • "On our first visit, we tried more than half of the tapas menu. It was amazing. Food came out piping hot and seasoned beautifully (which as a chef, I value dearly.) I highly recommend the shrimp and grits (shrimp were supple, grit cakes- flawless, sauce- truly complex and divine. The dates with chevre (crisp Smokey bacon, dates and goat cheese is a impactful salty sweet tapa. Crab cakes- light and flavorful. As far as coctails- do not miss the caipirinha, a classic from Brazil."
    Dined on 7/31/2014
  • "Not wanting Fried Fish or Hush Puppies, I kept looking at Trip Advisor and found Circa 81. So glad I did, 4 of us went, had a great selection of Tapas. Everything was presented beautifully and tasted great. So glad I found some good food by the beach. Will return soon, thanks"
    Dined on 7/26/2014
  • "Clark, you did it again! We came with another couple and their 8-year-old. We love the tapas menu and they did too. A salad (love the house with apples and blue cheese) and two tapas each was plenty for moderate appetites. My fav is the pork wings. The Thai chili sauce is terrific, just the right amount of sweet and spicy. Each of us was beyond happy with the food. Only slight downside was the service. We have always had above average service here, but this night was an exception. Drinks took a long time to arrive, despite our table location right next to the bar, some dishes came quickly some took a long time. I think the waitress was new; but overall we had a good time and really enjoyed the meal."
    Dined on 7/21/2014
  • "Last Sunday we enjoyed a leisurely Sunday brunch, and even though we both knew exactly what we wanted (one Cuban Benedict, one Circa 81 Benedict), we both changed our minds when we heard the specials! Clarke often offers unusual specials, and my husband chose a pulled pork/bacon/feta omelet special, and I chose the teriyaki pork Benedict, and both were outstanding. Lots of flavor! Clarke uses fresh ingredients and unusual combinations, and we've never been disappointed. We do not live in this area, but every time we head for the coast, we make a point of planning a dinner of tapas and a Sunday brunch---both at Circa 81."
    Dined on 7/20/2014
  • "We have had dinner there every year for the last 3 years when we visit the beach, and every time they have taken very good care of me. The waitstaff is very knowledgeable about gluten-free options and they are able to substitute gluten-free bread and even gluten-free tortillas. And the food is very good. This time we had the mussels in a cilantro & lime broth, and they were amazing. I also highly recommend the bacon-wrapped dates."
    Dined on 7/13/2014
  • "There's nothing like it in the area. The food was delicious. The service was great, overall a spectacular find. Looking forward to our next dinner."
    Dined on 7/12/2014
  • "We went for my wifes birthday and had a great time. We shared several small plates and had a couple different martinis, all of which were great. I was a little disappointed they were out of the Ibiza Spanish ham but other than that - no complaints. We will definitely return and often."
    Dined on 7/11/2014
  • "Tapas are the highlight of the restaurant. The tapas have been Americanized and they are larger than normal. Wide variety to pick from. We tried six different selections from sweet to savory. The pork osso boco and the beef skewer were our favorite. Large beer and wine selection. We had the chocolate creme brulee for dessert which tasted really good but the texture could have been firmer and the hardened carmalized top more pronounced."
    Dined on 7/11/2014
  • "We went on a weekday evening, with another couple. The service was attentive but not stiff, and the food was very good, love the variety in the menu. Comfortable seating, upbeat ambiance and an overall excellent experience."
    Dined on 7/10/2014
  • "We've eaten three times in three weeks at Circa 81. The first two times it was great! Shrimp and grits, Mahi bites, duck breast, pot stickers, mussels all were excellent. This week (after the July 4 weekend which may affect things), I ordered two specials: 1. "pork wings" : they were tough, overcooked, tasted stale, but the sauce was tasty; and 2. "seafood nachos" : they were not good at all: first served they were cold, after re-heating the seafood was tough and tasteless, the nachos themselves were not as good as those you get at a stadium. I still think this is the most interesting restaurant in Morehead City but they have to work to keep the quality up. This week they didn't. Just my opinion."
    Dined on 7/6/2014
  • "Fun night out celebrating our daughter's 25th birthday. Great Cosmo and wine and the small plate selection is great. We ordered way too much food cause it all sounded so good! Will definitely go back!"
    Dined on 7/1/2014
  • "I found Circa 81 online while looking for a special place for a nice dinner for my first weekend get-away with my boyfriend. I wasnt sure what to expect I just knew the few reviews I read had been positive. We were both blown away by our experience. The atmosphere was comfortable and intimate. The service was great. Drinks from the bar were of high quality. The food was absolutely amazing! By far of one of the best meals Ive ever had in a resturant. Our expectations were well exceeded. I have already recommended Circa 81 to my friends. We cant wait to go back!"
    Dined on 6/28/2014
  • "OMG. Great small plate selection. The worst thing I had I'd order it again tomorrow. More cured meats is the way to go. Chef and Wife need to take along vacay to Spain and Italy is search of more cured meats. Two things, though. You can't go until the winter and yous guys have to pay for the trip. Have fun and I'll see next week."
    Dined on 6/21/2014
  • "Love the topas great service, we were there for anniversary and they were very attentive."
    Dined on 6/21/2014
  • "We went for the Tapas experience; I'd had them in Spain and really, really wanted to have tapas again. We had a super knowledgable waitress (Janet) who guided us thru the mysteries of the "small plates". the food was superb! Each tapas we tasted immediately became "oh, this is my favorite"..the beer selection was great: I tried a Gaelic Ale that went with the black bean tapas perfectly. A suggestion: have the Madjool Date tapas for dessert...too sweet to have early in the tasting. GO...you'll love it. (not much atmosphere but a great chef with innovative ideas)"
    Dined on 6/21/2014
  • "The reservation and table selection was perfect. The food was exquisite. We done from the Tapas selections and all were delicious. The service was the best we have found in the area. We will be back here on our next trip to the Bogue Banks."
    Dined on 6/16/2014
  • "I really enjoyed eating at Circa 81. The food was perfectly delivered popping hot. You can tell it was prepared for you and not made ahead of time. The waitress, knew the menu and answered all questions. The menu had many choices . If you enjoy beers, they have a wonderful choice. I have been back many times, for lunch and dinner."
    Dined on 6/16/2014
  • "A perfect place to have any meal. The chef and owner is the friendliest person. You feel at home when dinning there. The food has been beyond any restaurant in the area. I enjoy dining every time."
    Dined on 6/7/2014
  • "I'm surprised that Open Table makes reservations for Circa 81. It certainly doesn't compare with the other places I've made Open Table reservation at. The restaurant is just what it looks like from the outside: a third-rate strip-mall eatery with slouchy waitstaff and mediocre food. I was fooled by its website and Open Table connection. "
    Dined on 6/1/2014
  • "We were staying at Atlantic Beach for a weekend anniversary vacation. Circa 81, just minutes away in Morehead City, is the ideal place for a foodie-approved dinner of European-influenced dishes, fused with local seafood and fresh ingredients. The tapas are a fun option for trying multiple items. The cocktail list is solid, they are willing to make modifications, and the drinks are quality. "
    Dined on 5/31/2014
  • "Warm welcome and friendly efficient service even though we had been delayed and arrived late. (We did call to let them know.) Seared tuna and mahi mahi were very good; some interesting flavors. Creme brulee was deliciously fresh and creamy, definitely a cut above the usual. Wine list is very affordable. It was an enjoyable evening worth repeating."
    Dined on 5/26/2014
  • "My girlfriend and I dined for our very first anniversary. The food was absolutely fantastic. But it was the outstanding service we received from Randi that truly made our dining experience a 5 star night. She went above and beyond to ensure our night was everything we had imagined it could be. We were even treated to a dessert with HAPPY ANNIVERSARY written in chocolate syrup. We are customers for life. "
    Dined on 5/21/2014
  • "Great restaurant find. Have been several times and taken friends from out of town. An excellent menu!"
    Dined on 5/11/2014
  • "...to eat here. Great food, beautifully-designed interior, attentive and friendly staff who deliver the high-quality food hot."
    Dined on 5/11/2014
  • "This was My third time dining here and I tried something different every time, spot on everytime, I will be back. Thank you "
    Dined on 5/10/2014
  • "Innovative and delicious food in a fun, upscale, but relaxed environment. The staff are attentive and knowledgable about the menu. LOVE finding this level and quality of restaurant in ENC!"
    Dined on 5/6/2014
  • "Great and fun food; wonderful service; comfortable environment for dining; most excellent martini; some good wine values and varieties -it's just a nice place to bring friends and family for an evening of entertaining. Good value!"
    Dined on 5/2/2014
  • "The food and service were wonderful however, the noise level was a bit high. If you are going with a large group it might be tight."
    Dined on 4/25/2014
  • "We spent a nice time. The food was great, warm welcome and friendly time."
    Dined on 4/20/2014
  • "Whenever we come to the beach, we make sure that we have at least Sunday Brunch or a dinner at Circa 81 in Morehead City. Clarke, the chef, is creative and uses high quality, fresh foods. We love the tapas selection for dinner, and the Circa 81 French Toast, the Circa 81 Benedict, and the Cuban Benedict are favorites. "
    Dined on 4/20/2014
  • "Great food, and romantic atmosphere. Would definitely recommend and will be going back soon"
    Dined on 4/14/2014