The Village Inn--tucked out of the way on Balboa Island--feels like a neighborhood bar, if your neighbors happen to be middle-aged guys who look as if they could use a drink by the end of the week. In other words, real people from a real neighborhood.
People here tend to be a little older than the kids you find thronging many beachside bars. The atmosphere's informal and friendly.
Weekend nights they have somebody playing piano in the bar, usually just a tad too loudly, but there's a fireplace and some couches in the corner just perfect for winter nights. The service is good.
The restaurant next door is light and airy with a lot of windows looking out on Marine Avenue, the island's main drag. The food's pretty good. Then you can wander through a connecting door to the bar for an after-dinner drink.
The Inn has one of the best burgers--lots of grilled onions--in Newport Beach. On a scale of five, give it a four for the informal ambience and the fireplace. Good place to catch a beer and a televised game on Saturday afternoons.
The Village Inn, 127 Marine Ave., Balboa Island. Open daily, 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. (714) 675-8300.