Discovering the Dining Scene in Skopje, North Macedonia
The menu at Skopje's Forza Wine Bar and Restaurant changes with the seasons | Courtesy of Forza Wine Bar and Restaurant
North Macedonia’s fascinating capital, Skopje, is making a name for itself as a city-break destination. With the best restaurants in Skopje offering everything from traditional North Macedonian cuisine to fresh Mexican flavours, the city’s burgeoning food scene is becoming a draw in itself.
Combining locally sourced ingredients with world-class wines and a new generation of entrepreneurial young chefs, Skopje is growing in popularity as a foodie destination. A whistle-stop tour of the city’s culinary landscape includes mouthwatering burgers, authentic riblja čorba (fish stew) and a taste of the Mediterranean.
Distrikt Bar and Kitchen
Restaurant, European, Mediterranean
Bringing together the best of Eastern European and Mediterranean flavours, Distrikt Bar and Kitchen’s culinary concept has been a breath of fresh air on Skopje’s dining scene. Located on the ground floor of the swish Marriott Hotel, the restaurant manages to be both chic and relaxed. Skopje’s only restaurant with a Josper grill – a coveted type of charcoal grill renowned for producing flavoursome dishes – Distrikt has a diverse menu that includes such local specialities as korab kaskaval sheep’s cheese and kraski smoked pork, along with Mediterranean favourites such as homemade paprika hummus and a menu of signature cocktails. Every other Tuesday, head chef Kiril Stavrev hosts a special seasonal dinner using local ingredients – the perfect opportunity to learn about North Macedonian cuisine.
For the ultimate North Macedonian comfort food, look no further than the warming riblja čorba on offer at Gostilnica Dukat. Made on a wood-burning stove in a traditional pot, this hearty dish is best accompanied by some homemade bread and makalo – North Macedonia’s legendary (read: potent) garlic sauce. Dining here feels like being welcomed into a family party; wooden beams, live local music and the simple, tasty fare all add to the rustic ambience. Save room for a dessert of caramelised quince with vanilla ice cream.
Bringing the taste and spirit of France to Skopje, Amica is a Parisian bistro-inspired eatery in the centre of the city, overlooking the banks of the Vardar River. Beyond the quiche lorraine, French wine and delectable desserts (think crêpes, apple tart and tangy lemon cake), Amica charms its guests with artistic vintage posters and antique furniture, perfectly combining elegance with a bohemian spirit.
Amigos Restaurant and Bar has been Skopje’s prime location for Mexican cuisine since 2006. Start the day with a breakfast burrito packed with scrambled eggs, guacamole, bacon and melted cheese, or enjoy a dinner of beef or chicken tacos with flavourful grilled veggies. Anyone with a sweet tooth will be in heaven come dessert: the fresh crispy churros are second to none. Thanks to its extensive cocktail selection, Amigos is also commonly dubbed the city’s premier spot for after-work drinks, and indeed, the upbeat music, warm exposed brick interior and cheerful staff guarantee a fiesta atmosphere.
Burgers are still having a moment in Skopje, and Kantina is at the heart of the storm. Home of the signature Kantina burger – laden with local kačkaval cheese and aioli – this lounge bar-restaurant is a casual dining spot with a great choice of dishes for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Something of a hipster hotspot, Kantina is particularly popular during the summer months, when the outdoor terrace – adorned with graffiti by local street artists – is the place to be. To be particularly popular on the terrace, bring a cute canine – Kantina is dog-friendly.
Opened with the needs of the health-conscious in mind, Fitness House specialises in fitness nutrition and is the ideal spot for a pre- or post-workout meal. Don’t get the wrong idea: Fitness House is not about dieting or denying yourself, but quite the opposite. The colourful, varied menu features soups, salads, wraps, pasta, burgers, smoothies and (guilt-free) desserts, and there are positive vibes in abundance. Crowd favourites are the Monster Burger with mozzarella and the Muscle Machine steak with sumptuous veggies. Stick around for a portion of chocolate pancakes, too.
Whether it’s coffee with a friend, a business lunch or a romantic dinner, Forza Wine Bar and Restaurant is just the place. This family-run eatery changes its menu with the seasons, but the Italian-inspired salads, freshly made pasta and meat specialities are always to die for. Dessert is worth waiting for, too, with the sweet treats on offer including lavender and chocolate mousse cake and raw caramel cheesecake. Forza is known also as a family-friendly spot, and even boasts an impressive playground next door.
The search for the best food in Skopje stops here. Located inside the Park Hotel and Spa, Four Restaurant is a treat for all the senses. Here, fine dining meets an exquisite interior, and what the owners describe as “avant-garde, cosmopolitan cuisine” meets a welcoming, homely atmosphere. The Mediterranean-inspired menu includes a wealth of fresh pasta dishes – spaghetti Genovese with olives served in a cheese wheel, anyone? – and indulgent desserts, while brunch fans will want to stop by on a Sunday for the ever-popular buffet brunch.
Located inside the Old Bazaar – dating from at least the 12th century – Pivnica An gives you a taste of the Ottoman period. Set in a former hotel, today Pivnica An is among the best restaurants in Skopje specialising in local cuisine: here you can try mućkalica barbecued meat stew, sarma (stuffed cabbage leaves) and turli tava, a hearty traditional dish made from potatoes, rice, okra, aubergines, carrots, peppers and pork, beef or lamb. The rustic outdoor terrace is the perfect summer destination for a spot of al fresco dining.