We'll be in Newport Beach next weekend to help a friend celebrate the big six-oh. Except for when we're there, and a weekly date with her elderly mom at Norms, she never dines out. So she's left the choice of restaurants to us. I'd like to find a place that combines good, but not overly fancy food with a lively, festive atmosphere. Willing to drive as far as Laguna Beach. For points of reference, in the past we've enjoyed lunches at 230 Forest, Tommy Bahamas, and Bluewater Grill. Haven't had dinner at any of them though. Help!
Could also use help in finding a place to stay, since the guest bedroom at friend's house will already be occupied. Like the looks of the Newport Beach Hotel, but the $350 for an ocean view room seems a bit steep. Reviews and rankings for Doryman's Inn and Balboa Inn have me questioning both of those places. Again, we'd be willing to drive as far as Laguna Beach. Any recommendations?