Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria

4.7
501 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 501 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
4.8
food
4.6
service
4.5
ambience
4.6
value
Noise · Moderate
100% of people would recommend it to a friend
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Greensboro
4 reviews
Dined 4 days ago
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 5 days ago
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 2 days ago

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
11 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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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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DJ
Washington DC
3 reviews
Dined on November 11, 2018
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

Great place to eat, casual and clean. Easy to find. Enjoyed.

Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria
Responded on November 15, 2018

Thank you!

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DA
1 review
Dined on November 10, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 1ambience 4

Took too long for service. Didn't even get offered any drinks. Bad when we made reservations.

Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria
Responded on November 15, 2018

Hi Dawn, we are so sorry to hear you were disappointed in your visit and experience. It is always the goal of our team to provide great service and food. We would love the opportunity to personally address your concerns and also get a bit more information so that we can ensure our team is able to improve. If you can contact us directly, we would appreciate the opportunity to hear from you and earn you back as a valued patron. Thank you for your time, again our apologies!

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OT
Wilmington
1 review
Dined on November 3, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 3ambience 5

We are locals so this is one of our top 3 restaurants we love! The food was phenomenal as always. I can never say enough about the quality of the food! It’s always perfect! Had a slight problem with our waiter. I believe he forgot to put in our cheese and meat tray (not the chef’s tour) as it took 40 minutes to come out. He was spot on everything else after that.

Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria
Responded on November 15, 2018

Thanks so much! Sorry for the confusion on that one item but appreciate your understanding! Look forward to seeing you again soon.

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B
Raleigh
75 reviews
Dined on October 31, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 4

We've enjoyed this restaurant for several years. The quality is consistent. The menu is creative with something for everyone. Often the specials are unique and excellent. We recommend this restaurant to all our local friends. Looking forward to our next visit.

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OT
Wilmington
5 reviews
Dined on October 7, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Awesome bar service and selection. Owner chatted with us. Dinner tapas were fresh, flavorful, and again the chef came to chat and be sure all was perfect. Will definitely return soon.

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OT
Wilmington
2 reviews
Dined on August 25, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

This is hands down the best place to go! The ambiance, food, and staff are all on point! Seriously don’t ever pass on this place. Everything is beyond excellent.

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SR
Charleston
7 reviews
Dined on August 19, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Great menu, food is excellent. A bit pricey for tapas. Tight seating but a nice indulgence for a date night.

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D
New England
54 reviews
Dined on August 10, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 4

Seated immediately by a friendly hostess. Had the NC Brown Ale--very good. Tapas were amazing--bacon wrapped dates stuffed with chevre, and chorizo/clams. We both had the beef tenderloin slices over a bed of mashed potatoes, with broccoli, carrots, and mushrooms--beef was cooked to perfection, very good meal. Highly recommend!

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DP
Wilmington
38 reviews
Dined on July 28, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

My wife and I dine out regularly and enjoy many good restaurants in our area. There are few restaurants, however, that have been able to put all the features together that define true excellence. Circa 81 has done this. They offer an interesting and varied menu that includes creative specials. For example, we shared a wonderful dish that included oysters in a delicious risotto. Every dish we’ve ever had a Circa 81 has been skillfully prepared and beautifully presented. The service is absolutely exceptional...knowledgeable, engaging, and skilled. While all of the staff is very good, we love Sonya and ask for her every time we dine at Circa...she is special. So, in summary, they’ve been able to get it all right...a wonderful menu with exciting and varied specials, a kitchen that prepares and presents every dish perfectly, and probably the best servers we’ve experienced anywhere (especially Sonya!).

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