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Party Size
For 2
7:00 PM
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Booked 7 times today

Circa 81 Tapas & Cocktaileria

421 reviews
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$30 and under
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Tapas / Small Plates
Top Tags:
  • Tapas (14)
  • Good for a Date (11)
  • Special Occasion (9)
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.
Dining Style
Casual Elegant
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Tapas / Small Plates, Seafood
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Hours of operation
Monday: 11:30am - 9:00pm
Tuesday: CLOSED
Wed-Thurs: 11:30am - 9:00pm
Friday - Saturday: 11:30am - 9:30pm
Sunday Brunch: 10:30am - 2pm, full menu available all day Sunday until 9pm
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Phone number
(252) 648-8300
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Payment options
AMEX, MasterCard, Visa
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Dress code
Casual Dress
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Executive chef
Clarke Merrell
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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 or call 252.648.8300 for your catering needs. Gather, Eat, Enjoy!
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Cross street
Across from EJW Outdoors
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Parking details
Big private lot. Will accommodate large vehicles
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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.
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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 or call 252.648.8300 for details.
Bar/Lounge, Beer, BYO Wine, Cocktails, Corkage Fee, Full Bar, Gluten-free Menu, Non-Smoking, Patio/Outdoor Dining, Takeout, Weekend Brunch, Wheelchair Access, Wine
What 421 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.8  based on recent ratings
Noise · Quiet
96% of people would recommend it to a friend
  • 5
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5.0  Dined 7 days ago

We love this restaurant. Our service experience on our most recent visit was not up to par with our normal experiences. We think they were short handed and so the bartender was waiting tables in addition to bar tending. But the food and atmosphere are wonderful! We will continue going back for great food, cocktails, and wine!

OpenTable Diner (Richmond)
5.0  Dined on February 16, 2018

We had an amazing dinner as always!

vipAwesomeness (Raleigh)
5.0  Dined on February 12, 2018

It’s been a few months since I’ve eaten there because I live in Raleigh and have a place in Emerald Isle. Always amazed at how they keep the all around five star experience fresh. The Server was very attentive and personable with a great sense of humor. Hostess also continued to check on us throughout the meal. Usually a Hostess greets, seats, and says goodbye when you leave. On several occasions a Chef delivered our Tapas. Beautiful teamwork concept, no doubt instilled by Chef Merrell, Owner and Operator. Oh by the way, I should pay homage to the Bartender, as the drink are always inventive and awesome. Can’t leave without saying there must be new talent in the kitchen. The menu is become better and more varied. Hard to reinvent perfection.

5.0  Dined on February 11, 2018

I have never been disappointed at this restaurant. They are fantastic and remain my favorite restaurant in all of Carteret County!

OpenTable Diner (Charlotte)
5.0  Dined on February 10, 2018

We went for our anniversary and felt special from the moment we walked in. Alex Ortiz, the bartender made the best martini I have ever had and Jonathan Meadows made sure we felt cared for and appreciated. Kudos to such a fine staff, excellent food and a perfect evening!

OpenTable Diner (Wilmington)
5.0  Dined on February 8, 2018

I love this restaurant it never disappoints!
The food and drinks are great.

OpenTable Diner (Charleston)
5.0  Dined on February 3, 2018

Our new favorite local place. Great food, selection and good value.

ColoradoLady (Denver)
5.0  Dined on February 3, 2018

We love to share small plates and have lots of variety. Sean was our server again and he was again a great server. Dessert is a winner also. Beer was colder this visit, so I was a totally happy dinner guest.

OpenTable Diner (Raleigh)
5.0  Dined on January 31, 2018

Great place with good food. They are happy to make changes to the menu items to suit you. Nice place for a quiet meal if you want to talk.

Maryjo (Raleigh)
5.0  Dined on December 31, 2017

We have been to this restaurant several times and have taken family and friends there too. The food is very creative and delicious. The staff provides excellent service.

OpenTable Diner (Denver)
5.0  Dined on December 23, 2017

Great food. The only issue was the beer which could have been colder. We loved the small plates and shared several of them.

AuntJ (Wilmington)
5.0  Dined on December 17, 2017

Great place. Wonderful for Sunday brunch or mid-week lunch. The only opportunity I experience is the inconsistency of the Bloody Mary’s. It’s hit or miss. However, if it is a miss, they are very eager to make it right!

Great servers!

vipWineanddiner (Wilmington)
5.0  Dined on November 27, 2017

This is our go-to place. We always have a great meal. This time we had the evening's special tapas. One was better than the other. If you haven't been here, you really should try it.

vip42Potatoes (Phoenix)
5.0  Dined on November 22, 2017

What a little gem! The four of us ordered 3 items each from the small plates menu. Each was so good that even though we practically ordered the whole small plates menu, there were still items left of the menu that also sounded delicious! Service was excellent, responsive but not intrusive. Don't know about the main entrees but the small plates were over the top good. Delish! Go here now.

OpenTable Diner (Wilmington)
5.0  Dined on November 20, 2017

Food and service were both impeccable. Will definitely be going back. Hands down one of the best restaurants in the area.
Highly recommended!

OpenTable Diner (Raleigh)
5.0  Dined on November 20, 2017

Great experience. Great food!

AandE (Baltimore)
5.0  Dined on November 18, 2017

We received a gift certificate, and happily enjoyed a wonderful "late lunch/early dinner" on our 23rd wedding anniversary! The selection of tapas was delightful, and varied for the season. We definitely recommend Circa 81 to those traveling, or living in coastal NC.

Devon (Atlanta)
5.0  Dined on November 4, 2017

My wife and I eat here about once or twice a week. The Su day Brunch is our favorite stop after church. The menus are varied. It I enjoy the specials which change regularly. The wait staff are particularly attentive.

OpenTable Diner (Greensboro)
5.0  Dined on November 3, 2017

Excellent food and perfect service. Certainly a top 3 restaurant in the area!

Rickh (Wilmington)
5.0  Dined on October 29, 2017

Being a frequent diner at the restaurant, we chose to dine from the specials. We had the omelette special and it was great! A perfectly spiced, perfectly cooked , blackened salmon omelette , with just the right amount of fresh spinach and tomatoes. A great dish, with outstanding service(thanks Jamie) made for a very nice birthday brunch!