Like the rest of us, Sydney’s chefs and restaurateurs have been traversing 2020 with caution while finding respite in wintery fare.

Whether that's a cheesy pizza picked up and eaten home, a feast for two at a well-distanced table at a faved eatery, or a bowl of something slurpy downed on a tall stool at a cheap-and-cheerful local, there’s an abundance of comfort and joy to be found in Sydney, even in winter. Here’s where some of the city's food people go for their cold-weather favourites.

Kimmy Gastmeier, Cherry Moon General Store, Annandale
“For me, it’s Rara Ramen in winter. Soup warms the soul and nourishes the body, and I love the magic worlds of flavour in the garnishes. I order the pork tonkotsu with black garlic and chilli, plus I add a side of tofu. It’s warming and nourishing, and full of flavour and nutritional benefits.”

Junda Khoo, Ho Jiak Haymarket, Town Hall, Strathfield
“There’s Haymarket’s Pho Gia Hoi’s bun bo Hue [a Vietnamese soup with rice vermicelli and beef]. It’s hard to find it in the city, but the broth is sweet, tangy and salty. It’s so hearty and thus perfect for winter.

“Also Dopa’s shabu-shabu [Japanese hotpot]. The broth that you cook the meat in warms you up on a cold winter night.

“And I love Lotus in Potts Point. Winter equals truffle season, and the truffle pasta by head chef Sam Young is super delicious and showcases how good our Australian truffles are. We are firm believers in using local fresh produce in our cuisine to help develop a sustainable industry.

“The best thing about all these winter dishes is how they warm us up from the inside.”

Sharon Salloum, Almond Bar, Darlinghurst, and 3 Tomatoes, Ashbury
“There’s probably two places I love most in winter: Salt & Palm in Glebe, and Pizza Madre in Marrickville.

“I love Salt & Palm because of the great flavours – so well rounded. I order the traditional Indonesian rice platters, which come with a beautiful mix of Javanese yellow rice, sambal, steamed vegetables in grated coconut, fried potatoes, roasted peanuts and cassava crackers. I add the rendang sapi [beef rendang] and my heart and belly are very content. It’s a no-fuss place, but still warm and friendly. All the dishes are warming and packed full of flavour, so you can’t go wrong.

“Pizza Madre is a place that really took me by surprise. Its menu changes regularly, but my most recent favourite is the potato-and-basil cream pizza with spinach, zucchini, parmesan and macadamia – all my favourites on the one pizza. What makes Madre perfect for winter is that the menu changes for the seasons: fresh and light pizzas for summer and really warm, fuller flavoured pizzas for the colder months.”

Adetokunboh Adeniyi, Little Lagos, Enmore
“I love The Italian Bowl in Newtown. It’s hands-down the best Italian spot in Sydney. Its open kitchen means you get to see the food being made, and the staff are great. The owner, Alexi, is a wonderful person too. My favourite is the penne arrabbiata pasta with prawns. It’s a little bit spicy, and very warm and filling. The perfect comfort food for winter.”

Alessandro Pavoni, Ormeggio, Mosman
“I love a big steak cooked over charcoal, and the dining room at Bert’s is perfect. I start with duck liver pate and finish with a warm soufflé. It’s comfortable and delicious, with great service and of course a view. Being at Bert’s is such a pleasure.

“I also love Pilu at Freshwater – for the slow-roasted porchetta, of course. The other great winter dish they have on right now is culurgiones, a filled pasta with partridge mushrooms and truffle pecorino. Add some freshly shaved truffle over the top, buonissimo. So many perfect winter ingredients in one great dish.”

Glenda Lau, Bayswater Kitchenette, Rushcutters Bay
Gaku Robata Grill in Darlinghurst for their ramen, which is only available during the day and very limited. I usually order the spicy tonkotsu ramen, which is perfect on a cold day. The noodles are handmade with good bounce and chew, toppings are unique (tempura burdock root, for example), and the soup is always hot and comforting.

Room 10 in Potts Point has great winter soup specials. Their chicken congee was an occasional special, but is now on the menu at their Pina pop-up [located opposite] three mornings a week. Perfect winter breakfast comfort food for Australian Asians.

Malay Chinese Takeaway on Hunter Street [in the CBD] for their har mee [prawn noodle soup], which is only available on Tuesdays and Fridays due to the limited opening hours. That makes it even more special. It’s the best $12.50 you can spend on one of the best authentic, delicious, hot bowls of noodle soups in Sydney.”

Kristen Hooper, Manly Wharf Hotel, Manly
“If I’m eating local I tend to stick to family-owned businesses. For a nice dinner out, you’ll find me at The Herring Room in Manly, tossing up between the King George whiting or the pork belly. Both are done beautifully. It’s just so cosy – exactly what you want when you’re heading out in winter. Plus, the menu changes with the seasons so it’s great to visit all year round.

“Otherwise, if you’re looking for some low-key dine-in or takeaway options, I like Manly Thai Gourmet or Manly Eat Well. I tend to stick to Thai stir-fries with a bit of spice to them. You can never go wrong.”

Ibby Moubadder, Nour and Henrietta, Surry Hills
“I love eating at 10 William St in Paddington. It’s one of my favourite restaurants in Sydney because of its warm, fun vibe, the amazing wines and the delicious food. I have ordered the pretzel with whipped bottarga every time I’ve eaten there. It’s a cosy restaurant that is always busy, but also warm and inviting. There are always amazing pastas on the menu which warm the soul, particularly in winter. Match that with a glass of red, and you have the perfect winter night.”

Last summer we asked Sydney chefs where they ate, too. Check out the story here).