Food is very cheap. A plate of food from the street will cost 20-50 cordobas. A typical dinner will consist of meat, rice, beans, salad and some fried plantains, costing under US$3. Buffet-style restaurants/stalls called "fritanga" are very common, quality varies quite a bit. A lot of the food is fried in oil vegetable or lard. It is possible to eat vegetarian: the most common dish is gallo pinto beans and rice, and most places serve cheese fried or fresh, fried plantains and cabbage salad. There are a 'few' vegetable dishes such as guiso de papas, pipiÃ¡n o ayote-- a buttery creamy stewp of potato, zucchini or squash; guacamole nica made with hard-boiled eggs, breaded pipian zucchini, and various fried fritters of potatoes, cheese and other vegetables. If you like meat, grilled chicken and beef is delicious, the beef is usually good quality but often cooked tough; also try the nacatamales, a traditional Sunday food, that is essentially a large tamal made with pork or beef and other seasonings ~15 cordobas. Indio Viejo is a corn meal masa based dished made with either shredded chicken or beef and flavored with mint. The typical condiment is "chilero" a cured onion and chile mixture of varying spiciness depending on the cook. Nicaraguan food is not known for being spicy, though either chilero or hot sauce is almost always available.
Nicaraguan typical diet includes rice, small red beans, and either fish or meat. Nicaraguans pride themselves for their famous gallo pinto that is a well-balanced mix of rice and beans and is usually served during breakfast.
Plantains are a big part of the Nicaraguan diet. You will find it prepared in a variety of forms: fried subdivided into maduros/sweet, tajadas/long thin fried chips, and tostones/smashed and twice fried, baked, boiled, with cream or cheese, as chips for a dip, smashed into a "toston". Green bananas and guineo bananas are also boiled and eaten as side dishes.
Nicaraguan tortillas are made from corn flour and are thick, almost resembling a pita. One common dish is quesillo: a string of mozzarella-type cheese with pickled onion, a watery sour cream, and a little salt all wrapped in a thick tortilla. It can be found on street corners or in the baskets of women who walk around shouting "Quesiiiiiillo". The most famous quesillos come from the side of the highway between Managua and Leon in Nagarote they also serve a local drink, tiste and La Paz Centro. The best selection of cheeses, from quesillo to cuajada, is in Chontales.
A typical dish found for sale in the street as well as in restaurants is Vigoron, consisting of pork grind, yuca and cabbage salad, chilis can be added to taste.
Fritangas mid to large street side food vendors and grills that usually have seats and are found in most residental neighborhoods typically sell grilled chicken, beef and pork and fried foods. They also commonly sell "tacos" and "enchiladas" that can be delicious but have very little in common with their 2nd cousins-once-removed in Mexico. Tacos are made with either chicken or beef rolled up in a tortilla and deep fried, served with cabbage salad, cream, sometimes ketchup or a homemade tomato sauce, and chile on the side. They are a little like a Mexican taquito/taco dorado. "Enchiladas" don't have anything enchiloso about them not spicy. They are a tortilla filled with a beef and rice mixture, folded in half to enclose the mixture, covered in deep fry batter and then yes, deep fried. They are served similarly to tacos.
One alternative to the fried offering in the typical menu is carne en baho. This is a combination of beef, yucca, sweet potato, potato and other ingredients steamed in plantain leaves for several hours.
One typical dessert is Tres Leches which is a soft spongy cake that combines three varieties of milk condensed, evaporated and fresh for a sweet concoction.
If you travel to Chinandega, ask the locals who sells "Tonqua" It is a great fruit that is candied in sugar and is ONLY available in Chinandega. Most Nicaraguans outside of Chinandega do not know what Tonqua is. Tonqua is a Chinese word for a fruit, because tonqua is a plant that Chinese immigrants introduced to the Chinandega area.