ANAHEIM, Calif. — Twelve stories high above Interstate-5 at the Radisson Blu in Anaheim, with views of Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, is Blu SkyBar — one of Orange County’s newest restaurants.
Raising the bar with rooftop views, fire pits and a menu inspired by Spain’s Basque Country, Blu SkyBar’s Executive Chef Edgar Beas is infusing ingredients to make sure Blu SkyBar becomes not just a favorite spot with tourists but the go-to restaurant for locals.
What You Need To Know
- Blu SkyBar at the Radisson Blu in Anaheim is located on the 12th floor
- The restaurant, which specializes in Spanish cuisine, provides guests with sweeping views of Anaheim
- Edgar Beas, who is the executive chef, grew up in San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico
- Beas hopes Blu SkyBar will be the go-to restaurant for locals
And if there is one thing Beas is familiar with besides knowing his way around the kitchen, it is Southern California. Having been born in San Diego, Chef Beas grew up on both sides of the border — in Tijuana — and his upbringing led him to pursue his culinary journey.
“I went to the culinary school in San Diego. A lot of people don’t realize how close California cuisine, especial SoCal cuisine and Baja cuisine is related to each other. Just growing up and eating the staple dishes, the seafood, from there [Baja] paved the path for me with what I wanted to do with my career,” he said.
Growing up in a large family, cooking for Beas was easy “because we would always cook at the house and it was fun.” However, Baes is not the only one with culinary skills in his family. His mother also went to culinary school.
“My mom, she is not a professional chef, but she went to culinary school and she would always take cooking classes. It was not just Mexican [cuisine]. She studied other regions and she liked to travel. She would go to Morocco, different places, and learn spices — a worldly cuisine. I was always interested in that aspect,” he said.
Acting on that same interest to travel and learn new skills, Beas packed his bags and took a flight of faith across the Atlantic Ocean to — what at that time was the Mecca of the culinary world — San Sebastian, Spain.
“I really wanted to go there and learn new techniques. I packed my bags, got to the restaurant and knocked on the door. ‘Hey, I am here.’ They let me in and I started working there,” he said.
He worked and trained at the three Michelin-starred Martin Berasategui Restaurant. Knowing the language was helpful, but Beas said he could relate with Spanish cuisine because the level of pride and respect locals have for what is theirs can also be seen within the Mexican culinary world but with a few differences.
“Mexican [cuisine] is a lot more ancestral and traditional. It gets passed down from generation to generation. It’s not ever really tweaked to a more of, I guess, a modern approach to things but the Spanish [cuisine] just keeps evolving and evolving. That’s what I was interested in as a chef,” he said.
One of the things Chef Beas said he loves about his job is that he will never stop learning. His mentality is that he has something to learn from everyone. That has allowed him to add flavor to his creativity, which has allowed him to develop and work on the menu at Blu SkyBar.
“We have changed the menu six or seven times since February. A lot of changes, but it is relative to what is around. There are certain type of fish you cannot get year round, or mushrooms, or you know, the seasonal ingredients. Sometimes I just like to play around with new ideas and come up with something new,” said Chef Beas.
While the current menu at Blu SkyBar is Spanish, Chef Beas said about 80% of it is from the Basque Country. Some of the dishes include the bacalao con su kokotxa al pil pil (salt cod, cod throat, olive oil, garlic), croquetas de jamon (croquettes).
“If you go to the Basque Country, those are their traditional things. The rice dishes like the lobster paella and the arroz rojo (red rice), that is more Valencia, but we want to focus more on the Basque area,” he said.
Also on the menu is a $140 36-ounce dry-aged prime bone-in porterhouse.
Beas said he did have some reservations about a Spanish cuisine restaurant in Orange County, but after doing his research, he discovered there were few options for Spanish restaurants in the area.
“If we are going to do this we are going to do right. We are going to keep it as traditional as possible. Some people say Spanish and they do not know, they think Mexican because “Spanish.” We are in a good place getting busier, but I just thought something different will drive people in,” he said.
And it is working.
Despite being close to Disneyland, according to Beas, 80% to 90% of Blu SkyBar guests are locals.
“We can have hotel guests but we pride ourselves to the local community, the local outreach. We do not want to be another hotel restaurant in Anaheim. We want to be the opposite,” he said.
Beas said that with everything going on and with labor currently slim in the industry, he can focus more on the food.
“Being an exec it’s not just cooking all day. There are other responsibilities. I have to run a restaurant, too. But I think me working with the team, teaching and showing, that positive energy, it makes me feel good inside. Staff comes in happy, cooks are happy, if you have that environment, they will do anything for you. If we continue to do this, we could really do something a lot different from a lot of restaurants in Orange County and even LA County. We can step up and be in a different level of calibry,” he said.
While the legwork of the menu is done at Blu SkyBar, Beas said it would continue to evolve. They are also working their wine list to be more Spanish, but their bar features 20 taps from local craft beers across California.
Blu Skybar features an inside bar and an outside bar.
Blu SkyBar’s dinner service is Tuesday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., and reservations are highly recommended.
Cocktail service is Friday and Saturday from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m.
And for those wondering, yes — you can see the Disneyland fireworks from the rooftop while enjoying your food and drinks.