Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria

4.7
510 reviews
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$30 and under
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Tapas / Small Plates
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.
What 510 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
4.5
value
Noise · Moderate
100% of people would recommend it to a friend
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EC
1 review
Dined on May 18, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 5

The food is always amazing. It’s our go to place to eat in MHC.

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SR
Charleston
7 reviews
Dined on May 12, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Great place for an interesting, social meal. The way tapas are meant to be enjoyed. It's small, so the bar is open and right next to the dining room. It's always full, which says a lot for the food and atmosphere. The pork belly with grits is pricey, but tasty. Honestly, I haven't had a bad dish there. The kids meals are very good and kid friendly. My son inhaled the mac and cheese and we had to get a second bowl. I would recommend this place to anyone staying in the area.

Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria
Responded on May 16, 2019

Thanks so much!

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B
Raleigh
75 reviews
Dined on May 10, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

Have dined here many times. Always a delight. Rivals similar restaurants in big cities. One teeny weeny criticism this time. I loved the Duck Confit Tacos Special, but it could have used some special sauce. All the ingredients were delicious, but I found it to be bland. We love Circa 81 so much, it's become our traditional go-to place for special occasions.

Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria
Responded on May 16, 2019

Thanks for your feedback!

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JM
Raleigh
49 reviews
Dined on May 9, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

CONSISTENTLY good. The important word there is consistently. The menu is always interesting, the staff are friendly and well-trained, the prices are reasonable, and the food is always prepared perfectly. This place isn’t to be missed.

Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria
Responded on May 12, 2019

Thanks so much! We appreciate the kind feedback!

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KJ
Wilmington
1 review
Dined on May 5, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

I would recommend anyone looking for a nice evening out to try Circa 81 at least once. The cocktails were fun and delicious. The food however i believe could have been of better quality. I was satisfied but not overly impressed. Will definitely return.

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CJ
Baltimore
11 reviews
Dined on April 21, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 3ambience 4

It was Easter evening and the four of us had a lovely meal! The special soft shell crab with fired green tomatoes was excellent! One of us ordered the lamb chops and the rest of us has tapas. We were a little disappointed that there was not a ham special for the holiday. Overall, we all had a delicious meal and a fun evening!

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l
Atlanta
3 reviews
Dined on April 21, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Awesome as always! Service and food are always perfect.

Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria
Responded on May 2, 2019

Thanks so much!

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DW
Raleigh
14 reviews
Dined on April 21, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great atmosphere. Nice menu. Lovely cocktails and wine choices. Quality food. Love it!

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S
Raleigh
7 reviews
Dined on April 20, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

It’s always great! Mallory was a great server.

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OT
Greensboro
6 reviews
Dined on April 14, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Our server, Alex, did a wonderful job recommending tapas that complemented each other. The food was fantastic!

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LC
1 review
Dined on April 13, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Compliments to the Chef ... delicious, as usual.
The sesame seared tuna is perfection and the swordfish special was wonderful.
Medjool Dates were so rich and a perfect ending to our meal.

Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria
Responded on April 16, 2019

Thanks so much!

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AW
1 review
Dined on March 29, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

As always, the staff was wonderful. They were very polite and accommodating. Our waitress even brought us dessert with a candle because we were celebrating our anniversary. I recommend this place to everyone I meet.

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OT
Louisville
1 review
Dined on March 23, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 3ambience 3

The food was good.

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OT
1 review
Dined on March 15, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

This is what food should be, Circa 81 was absolutely delicious! We shared several things and nothing was a disappointment. The service was wonderful, everyone was friendly and every helpful. We will definitely be going back.

Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria
Responded on March 20, 2019

Thank you so much for your kind feedback!

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SA
1 review
Dined on March 15, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 4

Wish there was more crab meat in the She crab soup, it was mostly just broth. Really enjoyed the hot crab dip though!

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LB
Raleigh
2 reviews
Dined on March 11, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

It may be our favorite restaurant in Morehead- we love the food, and the service is wonderful!

Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria
Responded on March 14, 2019

Many thanks!

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GR
Raleigh
1 review
Dined on March 2, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

We frequent Circa 81 often. Always good food in a relaxed atmosphere. Great service and a super evening!

Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria
Responded on March 14, 2019

Thank you so much!

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CJ
Baltimore
12 reviews
Dined on February 28, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 4

I went with a friend and had a great time sharing 4 small plates that were not really very small! We had tastes of the black bean queso with chicken, the fried cheese, the dumplings and my favorite, the shrimp in garlic sauce! Yum!

Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria
Responded on March 14, 2019

Thanks so much!

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BB
Wilmington
1 review
Dined on February 25, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

food was excellent. enjoyed that it was not really busy. fast service

Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria
Responded on March 14, 2019

Thank you Brenda!

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DB
1 review
Dined on February 22, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Wonderful Birthday dinner for daughter. We have been several times but this was her first. She enjoyed being able to try different dishes. We had potstickers, black bean quesadilla, pork belly, duck breath, rosemary beef and I had the Poached Lobster with Risotto, delicious. Wonderful evening. Thanks Clarke , waitstaff and kitchen staff. You all are great.

Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria
Responded on February 25, 2019

Awesome, thank you so much!

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CM
1 review
Dined on February 14, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

This has always been a great place to dine. Highly recommended.

Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria
Responded on February 22, 2019

thanks so much!

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KC
1 review
Dined on February 14, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Service and ambiance were excellent! Will definitely be going back for dinner!

Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria
Responded on February 22, 2019

Thank you so much!

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c
Tallahassee
7 reviews
Dined on February 10, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 4ambience 4

Both my husband and I got the Circa 81 Benedict (crab cake w/ home fries) and it was great! We also had a bloody mary and the brunch cocktail and both were excellent.

Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria
Responded on February 22, 2019

Thank you!

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OT
New York Area
2 reviews
Dined on February 7, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Always great food and great service. Love this place. We will be back again and again

Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria
Responded on February 22, 2019

Thank you!

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KG
1 review
Dined on January 30, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Always excellent! The food, service, everything is always awesome.

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JB
1 review
Dined on January 25, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Amazing. Service was beyond perfect and the food is better than anything in the area. Our food was strategically brought out at perfect times by what was ordered. It flowed perfectly. Personally blown away by the whole experience. I will definitely be back and have no problem referring anyone else that I know to share in the amazing food and extremely thoughtful and knowledgeable staff.

Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria
Responded on January 30, 2019

Thanks so much, we hope to see you again soon.

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A
Raleigh
64 reviews
Dined on January 19, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

As always a five star experience. Food is always on point. Just a great place to go and relax and have a great meal. Don’t live in Morehead City, but when I’m there, this is my dining destination.

Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria
Responded on January 30, 2019

Thanks so much!

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OT
1 review
Dined on January 4, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Christmas with friends

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WJ
1 review
Dined on December 31, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great dining for special occasions (we went for both Christmas Eve and New Years Eve) or a good casual lunch.

Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria
Responded on January 3, 2019

Thanks so much!

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OT
Raleigh
3 reviews
Dined on December 31, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 4

We have been to Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria a number of times. This was our visit on a holiday. We were there New Year's Eve and the restaurant was packed. They were a bit delayed in sitting us and service was a little slower than normal, but it was well worth the wait. The food was absolutely fantastic! I had the brussel sprouts and the lamp chop. Both were amazing! My husband had the brussel sprouts as well and had the rosemary beef. I highly recommend this restaurant for a delicious lunch or dinner. The menu is original and a good break from the typical seafood fare you find in Morehead.

Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria
Responded on January 7, 2019

Thank you for your patience and understanding on one of our busiest nights of the year. We look forward to serving you again soon!

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L
Wilmington
4 reviews
Dined on December 31, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 4

We’ve been coming here for years, especially on Holidays, our food was barely room temperature with every course. I mentioned this to our waiter and he acted offended. We never as much received an apology. The taste was delicious, the presentation was impeccable, however it was pretty much cold.

Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria
Responded on January 16, 2019

We are so sorry to hear about this experience and certainly apologize. We do feel this is very unusual and we would love to be able to earn you back as a valued patron and address your concerns directly to ensure your next visit is a great one. Thank you so much for letting us know and, again, our apologies for missing the mark on this visit. We look forward to hearing from you, thanks again for your time.

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JU
Wilmington
2 reviews
Dined on December 31, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We choose this restaurant every time we go out. Service and food are AMAZING!!

Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria
Responded on January 3, 2019

thank you!!!!

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B
Raleigh
2 reviews
Dined on December 28, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We eat here every time we visit the coast, sometimes twice. We love the food. Extremely creative. Great staff also.

Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria
Responded on January 3, 2019

thanks so much!

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OT
1 review
Dined on December 27, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Awesome place! We’ll be back for sure!

Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria
Responded on January 3, 2019

thank you!

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RR
1 review
Dined on December 8, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We made resos and we're immediately seated by the hostess in a great spot. Our server was very knowledgeable of the menu, specials and wines. Service was outstanding and timed perfectly. Circa 81 just might be one of the top 3 eateries in Eastern NC.

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RR
San Diego
2 reviews
Dined on December 2, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 3

Delightful as always

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EX
New York Area
16 reviews
Dined on November 26, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

Has become our neighborhood go-to when we've had a busy day and want to relax with good drinks and thoughtfully prepared and presented, tasty food. Service is friendly and helpful.

Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria
Responded on November 29, 2018

Thanks so much!

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RJ
Wilmington
1 review
Dined on November 25, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 5

Although the establishment is not known for vegan fare, our wonderful chef was accommodating and prepared several vegan options for us on our 26th anniversary. We were not disappointed. Would definitely go back again!

Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria
Responded on November 29, 2018

Thank you and happy anniversary!

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K
1 review
Dined on November 18, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Wonderful birthday dinner! Food was amazing, service was great and the drinks were fantastic. Highly recommend for any occasion. In addition to many other small plates, we enjoyed the special feature which was the most perfectly cooked beef wellington. Amazing!

Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria
Responded on November 29, 2018

Thank you so much - happy birthday!

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T
1 review
Dined on November 11, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Each plate that came to our quiet table was like a piece of art, especially in terms of taste. Even a simple sangria had the perfect delicious balance of ingredients, as did every dish. Our waitress was very knowledgeable, precise with her words, explanatory, and very pleasant. She remembered it was our anniversary, and wished us well; this shows professionalism at one's job. Overall, this is our 3rd visit here, and we were not disappointed. It is worth the drive and every dollar.

Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria
Responded on November 15, 2018

Thanks so much! Happy Anniversary!

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