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Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria, Morehead City, NC

Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria

4.8
4.8
932 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.

Make a reservation

2 people

7:00 PM


Booked 9 times today

Additional information

  • Dining style

    Casual Elegant

  • Cuisines

    Tapas / Small Plates, Seafood, Southern

  • Hours of operation

    Brunch Sun 10:30 am–2:00 pm Lunch Wed–Sat 11:30 am–2:00 pm Dinner Mon, Wed, Thu, Sun 5:00 pm–9:00 pm Fri, Sat 5:00 pm–9:30 pm

  • Phone number

    (252) 648-8300

  • Payment options

    AMEX, Discover, MasterCard, Visa

  • Dress code

    Casual Dress

  • Executive chef

    Clarke Merrell

  • 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!

  • Private party facilities

    Circa 81 can be used for semi-private events or rented out and closed to the public for events. Contact us for details on special event bookings.

  • Neighborhood

    Beaufort / Morehead City

  • Cross street

    Across from EJW Outdoors

  • Parking details

    Big private lot. Will accommodate large vehicles

  • Public transit

    Taxi Cabs (sorry MHC does not offer public transportation)<br /><br />We are located 2.5 miles west of the Atlantic Beach bridge in Carteret Village Shopping Center.

  • Additional

    Bar/Lounge, Beer, BYO Wine, Cocktails, Corkage Fee, Delivery, Full Bar, Gluten-free Options, Non-Smoking, Patio/Outdoor Dining, Takeout, Weekend Brunch, Wheelchair Access, Wine

Popular dishes

What 932 people are saying

Overall ratings and reviews

Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant

4.8
4.8 based on recent ratings
  • 4.8Food
  • 4.9Service
  • 4.6Ambience
  • 4.7Value

NoiseModerate

Loved For

  • Coastal North Carolina

    Best Overall

  • Coastal North Carolina

    Best Food

  • Coastal North Carolina

    Best Service

  • Coastal North Carolina

    Best Value

  • Coastal North Carolina

    Great for Lunch

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Filters

  1. OT

    OpenTable Diner

    1 review

    5.0

    1 review

    Dined 2 days ago

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    Rebecca and Pete provided excellent service, and the martinis and food were excellent, as always.
  2. OT

    OpenTable Diner

    Raleigh

    1 review

    5.0

    1 review

    Dined 6 days ago

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    Great food and service. Perfect sized taps to get 4 or 5 plates for two. Will visit again when we’re back in town.
  3. BB

    BeckyB

    1 review

    5.0

    1 review

    Dined on September 18, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience4
    This was our first experience at Circa 81 and we will definitely be back! The food was amazing and the cocktails were very refreshing. The staff was very friendly. We look forward to our next opportunity to visit.
  4. SJ

    ShannonJ

    Tahoe

    1 review

    5.0

    1 review

    Dined on September 17, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    We have been to Circa 81 twice, and we love it! The staff is well informed about the menu and nightly specials. We love when a server has favorites and shares those with us, it's always delicious. Bartender is a master at his craft. Never a let down on the flavors. It's our new fav in Morehead City. We will be back.
  5. RC

    RosemaryC

    1 review

    5.0

    1 review

    Dined on September 17, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    Went for husband's birthday. Great service. Excellent tapas and cocktails. Couldn't have asked for anything better. Will definitely be back
  6. OT

    OpenTable Diner

    Raleigh

    1 review

    5.0

    1 review

    Dined on September 15, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    Always outstanding service and delicious food! One of my favorite restaurants!
  7. OT

    OpenTable Diner

    Raleigh

    3 reviews

    5.0

    3 reviews

    Dined on September 14, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience4
    Great food, attentive staff, great experience.
  8. JP

    JacP

    Greensboro

    13 reviews

    vip
    5.0

    13 reviews

    Dined on September 10, 2022

    overall5food4service5ambience5
    Favorites were great as usual. Rosemary beef, black bean quesadilla with chicken, Brussel sprouts, sesame seared tuna. Crab dip was great as usual but wish it were a larger portion. Very small. Crème brûlée was delicious but very tiny. Key lime pie was delicious and nice portion. Service was excellent as always. Good mojitos as always. Circa is always our go to!
  9. OT

    OpenTable Diner

    Raleigh

    6 reviews

    5.0

    6 reviews

    Dined on September 4, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    Always great food and service!
  10. DH

    DenardH

    1 review

    5.0

    1 review

    Dined on September 3, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    the most attentive staff of servers we have seen in a long time...multiple attention from all wait staff was refreshing
  11. RC

    RachelC

    1 review

    5.0

    1 review

    Dined on September 1, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    We come to Circa 81 every year on our trip to Emerald Isle. The food is always wonderful along with the service and atmosphere. We love doing a variety of small plates. Shaun was an excellent server!
  12. BA

    BarbaraAB

    New England

    11 reviews

    5.0

    11 reviews

    Dined on September 1, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    Simply our favorite place to eat at the beach. Myriad of choices. Excellent small plate specials and a creative list of $5 mojitos on Wednesday and $5 martinis on Thursday.
  13. C

    Chris

    Charlotte

    5 reviews

    vip
    5.0

    5 reviews

    Dined on August 26, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    Always a wonderful meal,’professional and courteous staff, and all around one of my favorites. Never miss! Thank you!
  14. RK

    RyanK

    1 review

    5.0

    1 review

    Dined on August 26, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    Tapas: that’s all you need to know. It has meat, seafood, and veggie options. I found 9-10 things on the list I liked, so just asked the others at the table what caught their eye. I expected to have a clunker, something I didn’t like: nope. Good value, fast food, good service. Will return.
  15. RW

    ReneeW

    1 review

    5.0

    1 review

    Dined on August 25, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    Amazing from start to finish. It always is! Thanks for making my birthday so special! ❤️
  16. OT

    OpenTable Diner

    Baltimore

    4 reviews

    4.0

    4 reviews

    Dined on August 20, 2022

    overall4food4service5ambience5
    The bruschetta is a must have when visiting along with the garlic shrimp! Service was fantastic, very friendly and attentive. Dessert was lack luster with the chocolate creme brûlée that did not taste much like chocolate and the peach cheesecake was dry. We will definitely be back for dinner but I’d vote to make a second stop for dessert after dinner at Circa 81 on our next visit.
  17. DP

    DarciP

    Detroit

    1 review

    4.0

    1 review

    Dined on August 18, 2022

    overall4food5service3ambience5
    Food, wine list, and atmosphere are fantastic. I only knocked it down on service because my waiter smelled strongly of smoke and made me lose my appetite.
  18. DZ

    DavidZ

    Wilmington

    4 reviews

    5.0

    4 reviews

    Dined on August 17, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    Excellent food. Excellent atmosphere. We eat here every time our family visits Emerald Isle.
  19. P

    Partyof6

    Western NC

    7 reviews

    5.0

    7 reviews

    Dined on August 13, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience4
    We had the lamb chops and they were very good. We had the key lime pie for dessert - it was light and not too heavy - very good. The host and server were friendly and attentive. This was our first time to this restaurant and we will definitely be returning.
  20. JA

    JoAnnD

    Philadelphia

    2 reviews

    5.0

    2 reviews

    Dined on August 12, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    Best flavored food I’ve had. Everything is so unique and quality. The staff make the experience exceptional.
  21. OT

    OpenTable Diner

    Charleston

    5 reviews

    5.0

    5 reviews

    Dined on August 12, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    Amazing food and servers. Definitely one of our favorite places to eat!
  22. T

    Tmoebius

    Greensboro

    2 reviews

    5.0

    2 reviews

    Dined on August 10, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience4
    The crab dip is amazing! I would go multiple times a week, just for the crab dip! She crab soup is also fabulous! There hasn’t been anything I didn’t like!
  23. B

    Brian

    Raleigh

    1 review

    vip
    5.0

    1 review

    Dined on August 10, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    We love Circa 81. Randall always takes such good care of us and we will be back soon. Thanks!
  24. n

    nightingale

    Richmond

    2 reviews

    5.0

    2 reviews

    Dined on August 10, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    We went here for our Anniversary. We ordered tapas & mojitos...they did not disappoint!!! Our server, Randall was awesome! We WILL return again when visiting to try other items on the tapas menu! Thank you for a wonderful evening!
  25. CK

    CharlesK

    New Orleans

    1 review

    5.0

    1 review

    Dined on August 6, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    We ate outside so the noise level was low and the temperature with the fans was comfortable. We really enjoyed the opportunity to eat outdoors.
  26. CJ

    CJTes

    Wilmington

    1 review

    5.0

    1 review

    Dined on August 5, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    We absolutely love this place, yeah it’s a drive but it’s worth it! The customer service is hands down the best around and the food and drinks are incredible!! The steamed mussels in the lime and cilantro sauce and the pork belly are our must haves Every time we go! If the chefs specials have scallops…he/she makes them literally perfect. Another must have. You pretty much can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. If you want a great date night spot that’s a quiet and great atmosphere with delicious food and drink. This is the spot.
  27. SL

    StephanieL

    Richmond

    1 review

    4.0

    1 review

    Dined on August 5, 2022

    overall4food4service5ambience5
    Great place, good food, excellent service! Would return!
  28. CS

    CharleneS

    Chicago

    1 review

    5.0

    1 review

    Dined on August 3, 2022

    overall5food4service5ambience4
    We had a very pleasant evening out (for 2). We went on mojito night. Would have ordered more because they were delicious (pineapple/coconut and orange), but driving home. We started with the hot crab dish which was amazing. Then we had the special seared tuna tacos. They were very tasty, although tuna was well done. The tacos consisted of tuna, seaweed salad, ginger, a wonderful drizzle. Certainly a new and very gourmet take on a taco. Also had mussels, hot and buttery. The service was excellent. We have been to Circa 81 many times, and have always had a great experience!
  29. OT

    OpenTable Diner

    Philadelphia

    1 review

    5.0

    1 review

    Dined on July 31, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience4
    As always great experience.
  30. B

    Birthdaygirl

    Raleigh

    12 reviews

    5.0

    12 reviews

    Dined on July 31, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    Great food!
  31. CR

    CindeeR

    Greensboro

    2 reviews

    4.0

    2 reviews

    Dined on July 31, 2022

    overall4food4service5ambience5
    great restaurant- very good food, drinks and excellent service. They care and it shows! Always enjoy eating here.
  32. AK

    AndiK

    Raleigh

    12 reviews

    vip
    5.0

    12 reviews

    Dined on July 30, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    Nice wine list, excellent service, fantastic food! Get the charcuterie board—you won’t be disappointed!! Yum! Best potstickers ever! Both soups were delicious. Can’t wait to come back!
  33. AD

    AmyD

    Wilmington

    1 review

    5.0

    1 review

    Dined on July 30, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    Great social atmosphere and the tapas and servers were wonderful!
  34. OT

    OpenTable Diner

    Chicago

    1 review

    5.0

    1 review

    Dined on July 27, 2022

    overall5food4service5ambience5
    This was my dad's favorite Restaurant in the area. If you are looking for water front dining, this is not the place for you. If you are looking to sample excellent food, local fare and dessert to die for (I highly recommend the key lime pie or the chocolate lava cake), then make your reservation now! The wait staff is friendly and engaging (just the way we like it). We even showed up early for our reservation and got seated immediately! This place does not disappoint.
  35. MA

    MommaA

    Raleigh

    10 reviews

    5.0

    10 reviews

    Dined on July 24, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience4
    Food and drinks are excellent !
  36. JT

    JackT

    Wilmington

    1 review

    4.0

    1 review

    Dined on July 24, 2022

    overall4food4service5ambience4
    Staff was very helpful, especially our server, Rebecca. Food is always top notch there.
  37. MS

    MichaelS

    Richmond

    2 reviews

    5.0

    2 reviews

    Dined on July 24, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience4
    Food was great and our server was the best I have ever had. Very good experience.
  38. C

    Chris

    1 review

    5.0

    1 review

    Dined on July 22, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    The food was delicious. This restaurant has the best charcuterie board. The lamb entrée was cooked perfectly. My husband enjoyed the special entrée the restaurant had. The dessert was delicious. My husband enjoyed the maple bacon cheesecake. His only comment about the cheesecake would be a smaller size because how sweet it is.
  39. D

    Derek

    1 review

    5.0

    1 review

    Dined on July 21, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    The food and cocktails were delicious—especially the crème brûlée for dessert. I’d certainly recommend if someone is looking for a little something more than your basic crab shack-style food.
  40. CH

    CianneH

    1 review

    5.0

    1 review

    Dined on July 17, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    I came with two friends with whom I was celebrating our birthdays. Our waitress was very attentive and took pics for us. ❤️ The food is always amazing which is why we chose Circa 81 for our celebration.

Safety precautions

  • Cleaning & sanitizing

    • Surfaces sanitized between seatings
    • Digital, disposable or sanitized menu provided
  • Screening

    • Sick staff prohibited in the workplace

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 932 OpenTable diners.

Yes, you can generally book this restaurant by choosing the date, time and party size on OpenTable.

Make a reservation

2 people

7:00 PM


Booked 9 times today
Google Map for Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria

4650 C Arendell Street, Morehead City, NC 28557

Additional information

  • Cross street

    Across from EJW Outdoors

  • Neighborhood

    Beaufort / Morehead City

  • Hours of operation

    Brunch Sun 10:30 am–2:00 pm Lunch Wed–Sat 11:30 am–2:00 pm Dinner Mon, Wed, Thu, Sun 5:00 pm–9:00 pm Fri, Sat 5:00 pm–9:30 pm

  • Cuisines

    Tapas / Small Plates, Seafood, Southern

  • Dining style

    Casual Elegant

  • Dress code

    Casual Dress

  • Parking details

    Big private lot. Will accommodate large vehicles

  • Public transit

    Taxi Cabs (sorry MHC does not offer public transportation)We are located 2.5 miles west of the Atlantic Beach bridge in Carteret Village Shopping Center.

  • Payment options

    AMEX, Discover, MasterCard, Visa

  • Executive chef

    Clarke Merrell

  • Additional

    Bar/Lounge, Beer, BYO Wine, Cocktails, Corkage Fee, Delivery, Full Bar, Gluten-free Options, Non-Smoking, Patio/Outdoor Dining, Takeout, Weekend Brunch, Wheelchair Access, Wine

  • Phone number

    (252) 648-8300

  • 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!

  • Private party facilities

    Circa 81 can be used for semi-private events or rented out and closed to the public for events. Contact us for details on special event bookings.

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