Dining out in North Macedonia is relatively cheap and the ingredients are usually fresh, seasonal, locally produced and of superb quality. Traditional cooking in rural villages is a highlight. That said, the cuisine is not very varied: expect to eat local cheese, tomatoes, cucumber (not bad for vegetarians) and simple grilled meats frequently.
If you're on a budget you'll be able to eat local food at decent prices in any of the tavernas.
The following prices are for a main meal:
€ less than 200MKD
€€ 200MKD to 350MKD
€€€ more than 350MKD
Feature: Slow Food & Macedonian Culinary Adventures
Fascinating, micro food communities are everywhere in North Macedonia. The cheesemakers of Mavrovo produce coveted raw-milk hard cheeses using traditional methods. The mushroom growers of Negotino cultivate oyster mushrooms and gather seasonal wild mushrooms from the area's mountains. In Kratovo, three families still produce a traditional 'smashed salt' recipe that's 250 years old, comprising up to 13 ingredients.
In 2009 restaurant owner Tefik Tefikovski helped launch a Slow Food organisation in North Macedonia. After 20 years living abroad in Italy and Germany, he came home with ideas to promote the authentic flavours of Mavrovo National Park and traditional Macedonian cooking methods, while helping local farmers to build sustainable agricultural practices. Slow Food principles are merely building on North Macedonia's long-held love affair with home growing and local foraging. The hills around Mavrovo and Pelister in particular guard endless bounty (porcini mushrooms, walnuts, cherries, berries, mountain herbs and honey, to name a few) that ends up on local plates.
Thanks to the efforts of a handful of passionate local food lovers, culinary tourism is now blossoming in North Macedonia's rural communities, where enterprising villages (often beautiful places to visit in their own right) have sought to make traditional foods more accessible to visitors. Try the following to see what it's all about.
Villa Dihovo Petar Cvetkovski dabbles in home brewing and winemaking from his village home bordering Pelister, and can arrange honey or other food tastings with local producers.
Vila Raskrsnica Expect homemade berry juice, sour cherry liquor and traditional home-cooking from garden to table at this mountain-flanked village house in Brajčino.
Hotel Tutto Restaurant Tefik Tefikovski's food-focused hotel and restaurant is in Mavrovo National Park's village of Janče. The hotel foyer has a brilliant local produce shop.
Mt Galičica village dinner Book this excursion through Free Pass Ohrid in Ohrid Old Town – it involves a drive up into Galičica National Park to a ramshackle village for local specialities.
Horse Club Bistra Galičnik Combine a few hours' horse riding through the valleys of Mavrovo National Park with a pit stop to taste Galičnik's prized local cheeses.