Austin is home to an abundance of restaurants, bars, food trucks, breweries, and much more, all of which mirror the innovative city. To help navigate through the seemingly endless food and drink options, Eater is turning to some of Austin’s most talented chefs to share their recommendations in a recurring feature called Dining Confidential.
Todd Havers, executive chef of Clarksville restaurant Café Josie, watched the Austin dining scene swell over time since he first joined the team more than five years ago. “You can eat at a different restaurant every day for years before you would get back to the same one twice,” he said.
If Havers had one last night to dine in Austin, you’d most likely find Havers at Uchiko, where he would order “about 100 P-38 rolls and sneak in a couple of Lone Stars, not that Sapporo isn’t good,” he said. The yellowtail sushi rolls come avocado and grilled green onions.
Of all those many restaurants in the city, Havers considers Hoover’s Cooking as the best embodiment of the Austin dining experience right now. The genuinely good people and food is a hard combination to beat, he said.
“With the Southern cuisine becoming so trendy, it’s also great for me to see these kinds of places still around after so long,” Havers added.
Southern cuisine is definitely personal for Havers, who grew up hunting, fishing, and cooking along those lines with his mom and grandmother. A lot of his culinary passions, including his dedication to local sources, stems from those experiences, he said.
Havers’ favorite farm-fresh restaurant in Austin, excluding his own, is Odd Duck. “Its usage of hyper-local produce is always inspiring for me, not to mention it has some of the best drinks in town,” he explained.
But above all, his most enjoyable dining experience will always be taking his son to Super Donut 8 in Cedar Park (2800 South Bagdad Road). “The pure joy of that little boy’s face when he bites into that chocolate doughnut with ‘so many colorful sprinkles is about as good as it gets,” Havers said.