Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria

4.8
711 Reviews
$30 and under
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.

Safety precautions

Cleaning & Sanitizing
  • Surfaces sanitized between seatings
  • Digital, disposable or sanitized menu provided
Screening
  • Sick staff prohibited in the workplace
What 711 people are saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.8based on recent ratings
4.9
food
4.8
service
4.7
ambience
4.7
value
Noise · Moderate
93% of people would recommend it to a friend
progress_bar_value foreground of progress bar
progress_bar_background background of progress bar
progress_bar_value foreground of progress bar
progress_bar_background background of progress bar
progress_bar_value foreground of progress bar
progress_bar_background background of progress bar
progress_bar_value foreground of progress bar
progress_bar_background background of progress bar
progress_bar_value foreground of progress bar
progress_bar_background background of progress bar
Sort by
Filters
JB
JohnBookens
1 review
Dined 4 days ago
Overall2food4service1ambience2

It was extremely slow service. Took a long time to get drinks, order taken, and a long time to get the check. We sat at the bar, however, there was no bartender manning the bar

Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria
Responded 2 days ago

Hi John, sorry to hear you were unhappy with the wait times. We're doing our very best to keep up with a high demand and the staff that we have available to work. We apologize for any wait you experienced and appreciate your patience and understanding. We do feel this is unusual for us. Our team takes great pride in offering great food and service. We'd love the opportunity to address your concerns directly and hope to have the opportunity to serve you another time. Thanks for your time!

Report
OT
OpenTable Diner
Wilmington
2 reviews
Dined 4 days ago
Overall5food5service5ambience5

awesome! great food, drinks and staff!

P
Pattim
Washington DC
3 reviews
Dined on June 6, 2021
Overall5food5service4ambience5

One of my favorite restaurants. I’ve always gotten wonderful food really fast. However this nite it was really slow and the waitress not really attentive. Otherwise the food is always worth coming back for

Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria
Responded on June 8, 2021

Hi Patti, thank you for sharing your feedback. We will certainly address this with our team and we hope to have the opportunity to serve you again. Thanks for your time.

Report
LD
LindaD
1 review
Dined on June 4, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Food and service was great. Will definitely return.

P
Paul
Greensboro
1 review
Dined on May 29, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

This place is AMAZING. From the moment we walked through the door, greeted with a smile. Our server was awesome, recommended some amazing dishes, and wine. The food itself was out of this world. We're tried to book again tonight but of course no chance - fully booked. But we will be back!

Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria
Responded on June 8, 2021

thanks so much!

Report
OT
OpenTable Diner
Raleigh
11 reviews
Dined on May 29, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience4

I love this place! The traditional sangria is so good and refreshing. Got all my favorite small plates (Medjool dates, shrimp gambas, potato bravas) and tried the hot crab dip for the first time. All perfectly delicious! We will be back soon!!

Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria
Responded on June 8, 2021

thank you!

Report
JH
JH1990
1 review
Dined on May 28, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Loved their salmon, cooked chips, bread service, and cheesecake! I highly recommend!

JM
JasonM
Wilmington
1 review
Dined on May 23, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

This food is amazing and the staff are wonderful. Highly recommended.

DZ
DavidZ
Wilmington
2 reviews
Dined on May 23, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

We be love this restaurant. Service is always excellent and we really enjoy the variety in the Tapas.

CL
CharliL
1 review
Dined on May 23, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Fantastic experience. Thank you so much. We’ll be back.

U
Unhappy
1 review
Dined on May 21, 2021
Overall4food3service4ambience1

I am giving a very mediocre review due to the fact that a delivery truck stopped in front of our table for four of us ladies that were having a nice leisurely lunch and never stopped the engine the owners would not ask them to move or come back and it ran like that for our entire meal ! very bad otherwise the food was good the service was pretty good and enjoyed our company but we couldn’t hear each other talk☹️

Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria
Responded on May 24, 2021

So sorry for the inconvenience! We definitely understand you concerns. Unfortunately, we have no control over when deliveries arrive and, right now, deliveries are extremely hard to come by due to COVID supply chain issues.

Report
SD
SamuelD
Wilmington
3 reviews
Dined on May 19, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience4

First time at this restaurant in several years. The Truffle Honey Pork Belly is one of the best things I've eaten in a long time. Staff were friendly, attentive. Price is extremely reasonable.

CC
CelestialCrab
Raleigh
1 review
Dined on May 9, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Continually impressed after numerous trips to Circa 81, food, service & ambiance with excellent specials keep us coming back trip after trip to Morehead City.

K
Ktaylor113
Western NC
10 reviews
Dined on May 9, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

This is a great restaurant and unique for Carteret County. I highly recommend it!

OT
OpenTable Diner
Charleston
2 reviews
Dined on May 8, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great atmosphere and service will be returning

D
vipDrew58
New York Area
42 reviews
Dined on May 7, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Food was delicious and drinks were excellent!! Definitely going back!!

D
vipDrew58
New York Area
42 reviews
Dined on May 3, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

I'm not sure what I loved more the food or the drinks? Everything was delicious! Going back again on Friday!!

L
Lindam
Birmingham
1 review
Dined on May 3, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Love the tapas..Nice to have that option. Most restaurants are too loud. We were early and it wasn’t crowded. Also, at the time there was no annoying music being played,for which I thank you

CK
ChrisK
Wilmington
1 review
Dined on May 1, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Mallory did an amazing job. Food was exceptional as it always is!! Love, love love this place.

NC
vipNikiC
Wilmington
4 reviews
Dined on April 30, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Thank you so much to our server Kira and all the wonderful staff at Circa81 for making our 1 year anniversary perfect! I loved the surf and turf tapa! All of the drinks were on point! Best place to celebrate any occasion, or any other random day. We love these guys!

S
Steve
Raleigh
1 review
Dined on April 28, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience4

Great Waiter, explained all the dishes. Delicious Tapas!

ES
EllenS
Raleigh
3 reviews
Dined on April 25, 2021
Overall3food3service5ambience5

I came with a very high expectation based on reviews and recommendations and was a little disappointed. Not as much fresh seafood as I expected. I had the shrimp with grit cake which was OK but not memorable. My husband got the crab cake which again was par. We sent the brussel sprouts back because they were drenched in sauce and not crispy. The atmosphere and service were great. The food was OK.

Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria
Responded on April 28, 2021

Hi Ellen, thank you for sharing your concerns. We are so sorry to hear you didn't enjoy your visit and the food didn't meet your expectations. The shrimp & grits and brussel sprouts are two of our most requested items so we hate to hear you didn't enjoy them. We are always happy to refund or replace anything for you. If you'd like to discuss anything directly please reach out to us via email. We appreciate your time and feedback.

Report
JS
JudyS
Washington DC
9 reviews
Dined on April 25, 2021
Overall3food2service5ambience3

Normally, Circa 81 is my favorite place to eat in Morehead City but today was disappointed. We were put at a high-top table though we asked for a standard table. Most importantly, the food was not hot and many of the hash browns were so black that they not good at all. A very disappointing brunch, though I will say the service was very good.

Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria
Responded on April 27, 2021

Hi Judy, we are so sorry to hear you didn't enjoy your meal. Our staff was unaware of your concerns and was also disappointed to hear you were unhappy. We can absolutely refund or replace any items. Please reach out directly to via email - we are happy to provide a refund or a gift certificate for a future visit. Thank you for your time and feedback.

Report
JS
JudyS
Washington DC
9 reviews
Dined on April 22, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience4

Continues to be my favorite place to eat in Morehead City.

OT
OpenTable Diner
New England
1 review
Dined on April 16, 2021
Overall5food5service4ambience4

Great date night spot for special occasions!

EC
ECUpirate98
Wilmington
2 reviews
Dined on April 11, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

As always Circa 81 was amazing! We always leave already planning our next trip back.

H
vipHank22
Wilmington
48 reviews
Dined on April 11, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

The food, drinks and service were outstanding. Our server and the whole team made us feel very comfortable and really took care of us. The food was so good that I wish I had seconds and thirds.

OT
OpenTable Diner
Raleigh
12 reviews
Dined on April 10, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience4

The salmon large plate is the BEST! Great selection of small plates and love love love the Traditional Sangria! Love this place!

LL
LisaL
Raleigh
1 review
Dined on April 9, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Our dinner was amazing! The food was excellent, and the service was perfect. There's a reason Circa 81 is my favorite restaurant in Morehead City.

AC
AngelaC
Raleigh
1 review
Dined on April 3, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great food and fantastic drinks! Perfect pacing in delivery of tapas to the table to allow maximum satisfaction.

C
vipChrissy
San Diego
21 reviews
Dined on April 2, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

first time and the food and atmosphere was amazing. The wait staff was super nice and really made the whole night very enjoyable.

we’d definitely go back.

must try the pork belly!

A
Alexa
Wilmington
2 reviews
Dined on March 27, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

My husband and I first came to this restaurant seven years ago following our wedding. We have been returning every year, sometimes a few times a year, to celebrate our anniversary. Each year that we return, the atmosphere has remained the same. The food is fabulous, the service is outstanding, and the general feel of the restaurant is perfect. The tapas are amazing, the large plates are full of flavor, and the drinks are superb. We will always return so long as the building still stands.

NC
vipNikiC
Wilmington
4 reviews
Dined on March 26, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

It was wonderful to come back and visit a place that is always so good.

RB
RickB
Wilmington
1 review
Dined on March 20, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

First visit. Amazing food, amazing, will be back for sure!

OT
vipOpenTable Diner
Wilmington
1 review
Dined on March 8, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Always an amazing time. The waitresses here are world class!

H
vipHank22
Wilmington
48 reviews
Dined on March 7, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

great food and service. wish the brunch portion size was bigger

JH
JamesH
Richmond
7 reviews
Dined on February 21, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Very interesting menu items. Our choices were very good and we enjoyed the evenings food and service.

P
Pamela
Richmond
1 review
Dined on February 14, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

The food and service were both absolutely amazing, as always. One of our favorite places to eat.

TC
TaylorCK
1 review
Dined on February 13, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

The service was outstanding, and each dish was flavorful and savory.

JG
JoeyG
Wilmington
1 review
Dined on February 12, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Simply one of the best places to eat. Amazing food great service and great prices.

FAQs

Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria offers takeout which you can order by calling the restaurant at (252) 648-8300.

Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria is rated 4.8 stars by 711 OpenTable diners.

Yes, you can generally book this restaurant by choosing the date, time and party size on OpenTable. Due to local restrictions, this restaurant may not be accepting reservations at the moment.

Tweets by Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria