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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 Service
  • Diners' Choice WinnerMost Booked
Diner Reviews
  • "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
  • "Love the topas great service, we were there for anniversary and they were very attentive."
    Dined on 6/21/2014
  • "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
  • "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
  • "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
  • "We spent a nice time. The food was great, warm welcome and friendly time."
    Dined on 4/20/2014
  • "Great food, and romantic atmosphere. Would definitely recommend and will be going back soon"
    Dined on 4/14/2014
  • "The food was exquisite. The combination of flavors were amazing. It was like flavorful dream. I have already recommended this gem to many of my friends."
    Dined on 4/5/2014
  • "Went for Toast to the Coast dinner. Was not disappointed. Song selection (60s classic hits) did not fit with ambience May want to consider smooth jazz for dinner music"
    Dined on 4/2/2014
  • "Very good experience at Circa....Randi our waitress was on point, helped us with menu selections as we decided on different plates.....pricing was as expected and we recieved what we paid for, really good food and really good service A return trip from New Bern already being planned"
    Dined on 3/29/2014
  • "We have enjoyed Circa 81 for several years, but this last experience was great. The food was terrific. The waitress, Jessica, was extremely helpful. We hope you keep her on for a long time."
    Dined on 3/12/2014
  • "We've always had a GREAT experience at Circa 81, whether celebrating an anniversary or birthday to meeting friends for drinks and tapas!"
    Dined on 3/7/2014
  • "This is a great little restaurant with a wonderful array of small plate tapas. If you like to try different entrees, this is the place to do it."
    Dined on 3/5/2014
  • "Circa 81 is very nice for a special occasion, its a little small but other than that its that best places i could have found."
    Dined on 2/14/2014
  • "Made a reservation and showed up just on time. The hostess seated us quickly, and the waitress (Jessica) brought us fabulous cocktails within minutes (Cosmos are recommended). The tapas were UNBELIEVABLY good. LOVED the medjool dates, the steamed mussels, the potatoes brava, the black bean and sweet potato quesadillas, and the duck (presented on a slate). Excellent presentation, finest and freshest ingredients. These people GET it. Special kudos to Clarke; a local NC man who went the extra distance for his customers, and learned how to COOK! :) THANK YOU!"
    Dined on 2/14/2014
  • "Went with friends for brunch...have been numerous times and always consistent. Highly recommend it!"
    Dined on 1/27/2014
  • "Well worth searching for. We have been coming to this area for 5 years, and Circa 81 has been in this location for longer than that! It's in the more "commercial/mall/newer" section of Arendell Street and faces the road sideways with a fairly small sign. We really enjoyed our meal, with another couple. My pasta w/ scallops in red, cream sauce was delicious. Each of the other diners with me also raved about their food. We eat out about every other night while staying at a timeshare in Atlantic Beach in January, and we all decided that this quiet gem is now in the top 5 on our restaurant list. We will definitely be back in January of 2015!!"
    Dined on 1/14/2014
  • "Very pleased with the food and ambience at Circa 81. Have recommended Circa 81 to several friends."
    Dined on 1/23/2014
  • "I go here regularly and as usual, and love to bring friends for the first time. I love this place forSunday brunch, lunch, and dinner. On this occasion we started with crab, bacon, spinach, and gorgonzola oysters OMG I was in HEAVEN!!! They were phenomenal. Following up the oysters (a nightly special) and our usual seafood mac and cheese (a staple) I ordered the gorgonzola crusted NY strip steak. It was cooked to perfection. My husband was equally thrilled with his lamb. Our friends both ordered the strip and were just as thrilled with the food as I always am. I was assured they will be returning. Thank you again Circa 81 for giving us another wonderful dining experience!"
    Dined on 1/18/2014
  • "The ambiance was nice, but I expected better food and service for the prices. There ate certainly other good restaurants in this price range with good food and professional, friendly service. Circa 81 did not meet my expectations"
    Dined on 1/15/2014
  • "We went on a weekday and it wasn't packed which was good but the waitress didn't assist us for at least 20 minutes who apparently was the hostess also. The music was a little too loud and our waitress smelled like cigarette smoke. Besides all the negatives the food was amazing so we had a great night."
    Dined on 1/5/2014
  • "We had never dined at Circa 81 before and found it to be a truly amazing experience. We requested a reservation online and the table was set up and ready to go when we arrived at the restaurant. The selections were spot on and delightful. I particularly enjoyed the tapas selections - because you had a really good portion per serving and so many to choose from! We enjoyed the interaction from the hostess, our waitress Natalie, and Chef Clarke Merrell. Added bonus which made the experience! One does not expect this quality of food and quality of service, nor do we often get it, in a typical "vacation" town."
    Dined on 1/3/2014
  • "Overall Circa 81 offered an excellent menu of tapas, all of which were brought out in a timely fashion. In rating the overall quality of food compared to other establishments I give it four stars. The service was exceptional and the ambience was perfect for first dates or enjoying a higher class bar scene -- families or couples. Circa 81 has made my list of restaurants to visit when I return to the Crystal Coast."
    Dined on 1/3/2014
  • "Years ago, I am embarrassed to say, I was very negative after our first visit. Well, I was way wrong!!! This wonderful place has evolved into THE top spot for inventive and tasty dishes, good wine values and excellent service. Check it out!"
    Dined on 12/22/2013
  • "We have been to Circa 81 at more than 1/2 a doz times since discovering it on OT. We were there this past wknd and were commenting that what a great find this was. The food is always awesome and unique. The staff is professional and friendly. This last time we made a reservation for lunch even though we suspected that it was a quiet time and no real need for reservations. When we arrived they had the table ready for us with the menus already setup for us. None of the other tables were setup this way :-) made us feel most welcomed. We have tried different items on the menu and have yet to be disappointed! We have been there in the evenings and every once in a while we are fortunate to be there when they have a live jazz musician."
    Dined on 11/29/2013