All prices reflect the time of this post being created, May of 2010. Prices will not be updated.
I'd like to start off this post by stating that I am a very "picky" eater, I do not like unclean food preparation and I am very uptight about food quality. To truly enjoy food in El Salvador I did have to let some of that go, but it was for the better. "What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger."
El Salvador has a lot of commonly found food (Comida Tipica). Firstly there are two main types, what I would call "fair" food and everyday food. Both can be found sold on the side of the road and in restaurants mostly everyday, however "fair" food originated from Fairs, Celebrations, etc.
Leisure Food/Fair Food:
Papas Fritas (Papitas) - Delicious home made french fries. Better than fast food fries, often friend in vegetable oil. Server in a small dish with ketchup, mayonaise and grated cheese on top. Truly delicious. Average price is about $0.70 cents a service. Prices can range as high as $1.50 at the beach or during holidays. Can be found during all major events anywhere. Normally can be found for sale in towns, at the beach and in the smaller colonias on the side of the road.
Churros - These are great fried pastries. Typically only found during festivales, special events and holidays; they are for sale on the side of the road. Carts are usually labled "Churros". They are delicious; not much like the Mexican version, better. They are a fried batter with the cinnamon (canela) in the batter, sugar sprinkled on top. Typically a service is decently sized for about $1.00, prices can be as high as $1.75.
Semillas/Dulces - Many different sweets are often for sale all year round. The vendedoras (sellers) will come up to you and ask. Most are several for a dollar. They are usually hand made and delicious. Semillas are from a plant here, they are very hard to prepare (not difficult but time consuming), a bag is around $1.00 typically. They are delicious.
Pupusa - The national food of El Salvador. The Pride and Joy. Similiar to a pita bread in shape, size and texture. Pupusa is made from corn flour (hariena de maiz) and filled with various things. There are plain cheese, revuelto, pollo, frijoles, etc. In other words they can be filled with just about any meat, cheese or bean mixture you would like. They are also occasionally made from rice rather than corn flour. They are typically served with a side of cabbage and carrots (shredded) and a liquidy tomato sauce (optional). They are finger good, so don't bother with the fork and knife -you'll get strange looks.- Prices vary greatly and usually can be between $0.30 - $0.50 cents each. Cheaper can be found.
Tortillas - Similar in shape and size to Pita bread, they are round and made out of flour from corn (hariena de maiz). They can be consumed on their own or with just about anything. They are one of the most common foods in El Salvador. Typically for $0.05 cents each, some may be as high as $0.10 cents each. In some instances they can be made from flour (regular - wheat) or rice flour. Sold everywhere, all year round.
Enchiladas - Typical. These are like tortillas but much thinner, made from corn flour. Fried in oil and then topped with cabbage/carrots (shredded), hard boiled eggs (cut into small pieces) and shredded cheese. They are quite delicious and fairly cheap. A plater of 3 can typically be purchased between $0.60 - $1.00. Some places sell them much cheaper.
Soup - Typical food in many regions is soup. Home made soup. While some areas don't eat soup much, where I am located its quite common. It is usually made with huge chunks of carrots, corn, chicken and other meat. Prices vary greatly and can range from $1.50 to $3.00 or more.
Food that isn't as typically eaten here:
Hamburgers - Not like in the USA. Only bought out at fast food, etc. Not common daily and not common at regular restaurants.
Hot Dogs - Semi common, hot dog carts are found in most towns and outside of major stores. Prices vary but a loaded hot dog (Salchicha but mostly just called "hot dog" pronounced with the silent "h" ) for around $1.00.
Subs - There are 2 major sub shops. One a US franchise - Subway. Prices are high, not found normally elsewhere. Hot subs, Mexican style (Tortas Mexicanas) can be found on sub carts in most towns. Prices average about $3.00 and the meat used is usually salami, chicken or regular beef.
Other food facts:
Most fast food is very common. All major chains from the USA and several others. Pizza is fairly readily available, taste varies. Chinese food can almost be found throughout the country; albeit not as common as in the USA. Other food styles such as Thai, Greek, Vietnamese are far less common and practically do not exist.
Prices of food are from typical food vendors on the side of the road. Comedors are also about the same price. Nicer establishments may have higher prices which is typical.