North Macedonia is a country with a long and sometimes mixed history. There are so many opinions on how the country should be named and who the people of North Macedonia are, but there is no question about how good the traditional food of North Macedonia is. I made a list of the best 11 dishes you need to try while traveling in North Macedonia.
Sarma is a traditional dish in most of the Balkans countries, including North Macedonia. It is made of grape leaves stuffed with rice and meat. The dish is usually served with Greek yogurt or sour cream.
Nowadays sarma is served at the traditional restaurants in North Macedonia. If you are travelling through Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia, you can visit one of the most famous restaurants – “Old City House” (Стара Кука).
Price: 100 denars
Burek is a traditional pastry that is filled with spinach, meat, or cheese. Burek is a great breakfast food. Just get a cup of coffee or some yogurt and have a slice of burek. That should keep you going for a few hours.
You can buy burek at any pastry store in North Macedonia, along with other pastries.
Price: 50 denars
Tavce Gravce is a dish traditionally made out of beans. The word “tavce” means a pot and “gravce” means beans. Poor people would cook this dish, since they didn’t have enough meat and Tavce Gravce is very filling.
Tavce Gravce is baked in a clay pot and served in it as well. The bean stew is usually well spiced and salted. The best way to eat Tavce Gravce is with soft crispy bread.
Price: 150 denars
Shopska salad is a salad widely popular in the Balkans. Nowadays you can find Shopska salad in almost every restaurant in North Macedonia.
The salad is made of fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers and white cheese. It is quite light and refreshing and a nice way to start your meal.
Price: 120 denars
Ajvar is a popular dip that is made out of roasted peppers, eggplants and oil. The best way to have ajvar is with a slice of bread or breadsticks. In fact, if you visit the restaurant I mentioned before – Old City House in Skopje, make sure to order their fresh baked breadsticks with ajvar, you won’t regret it.
Nowadays ajvar is a popular thing to bring home from North Macedonia. In Skopje Airport Duty Free you will find jars of ajvar and other dips on the shelves. They even have gift boxes of different jars. Cody and I of course got a few jars for ourselves to take home. We chose a jar of ajvar and a jar of pindjur.
Price: 70 denars
Kebapcinja is a short (finger sized) kebab that is very popular in North Macedonia. Kebabs are usually quite soft and juicy and served with pita bread, chopped onion, and spicy pickled peppers. You of course can eat kebapcinja simply from your fork without anything else, but the best way is to make a “sandwich” of all the ingredients on the plate.
There is a place in Skopje’s Old bazaar that serves the best kebapcinja (at least in my opinion) called “Destan”. Kebapcinja is their signature dish, although while you are there you might want to try their veal steak as well.
Price: 200 denars
I am from Ukraine and people here also make stuffed peppers, but it is more of a home dish and I rarely see it on restaurants’ menus. In North Macedonia, however, this dish is widely popular and served in many restaurants.
Polneti piperki are made of fresh pepper that is usually stuffed with well spiced rice and ground meat. Stuffed peppers are then baked in the oven until they are soft. It is quite a heavy and filling dish.
Price: 150 – 250 denars
Ohrid Trout is one of the dishes you absolutely must try if you are visiting Ohrid lake in the south of North Macedonia. Ohrid lake is the oldest lake in Europe and one of the most beautiful. The lake is famous not just for its crystal clear water, but also for a few endemic fish. And Ohrid trout is one of them.
Ohrid trout is a brown trout that nowadays is endangered due to excessive fishing. There is just a small amount that people are allowed to catch today and you still can try this fish in a few restaurants around Ohrid lake. However, the price is quite high. So prepare to pay around 2400 ($48) denars per a kilogram of Ohrid trout, which is about 1000-1500 ($20-30) per one dish.
Price: 2400 denars per 1 kilogram of Ohrid trout
Plashica is another fish that is endemic to lake Ohrid, but it is not endangered. If you have heard about the famous Ohrid pearl, you might already know that the scales of this fish are used to create the emulsion for the pearls.
But it is not just its scales that people want, the fish itself has a great taste and is widely consumed in that region. Plashica is quite a small fish around 10 – 15 centimetres and usually served deep fried with lemons and sauce. It actually reminds me of fried sardines. You can find plashica fish in many restaurants along the coast of Ohrid lake.
Price: 250 denars per 300 grams
Pinjur is the second famous dip in North Macedonia. It is slightly reminiscent of ajvar, although the texture, color and taste are different. Pinjur is more red vs Ajvar which has an orangish color. Plus pinjur is more acidic and not as sweet as Ajvar.
I personally prefer pinjur to ajvar, the texture (it contains smaller bites of vegetables than ajvar) and the acidity goes better with bread in my opinion. But don’t take my word for it, try both dips and let me know in the comment section which one you liked the most.
Price: 70 denars
North Macedonia is a country that makes many great dishes, but the best of them are Something in Pots. There is Tavce Gravce (beans in a pot), lamb in a pot, vegetables in a pot, veal in a pot, and many others. <y favorite just happens to be Телешко Грне -Veal Pot.
Телешко Грне is cooked with veal, onion, dried pepper in a clay pot in an oven. It is served right out of the oven, so be careful not to touch the hot dish right away. The meat is full of flavours and super tender, probably some of the most tender meat I have tried. The vegetables and the gravy are a great addition to meat and goes well with bread (okay, I did eat lots of bread in North Macedonia).
Price: 250 – 300 denars