Election Day Lunch

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Our tummies still ache when we think of the fistfuls of jelly beans we inhaled the day Ronald Reagan was inaugurated. Since then, food and elections have been a natural pairing in our minds -- because food and every event is a natural pairing in our minds, probably -- and this year has been no different. And while various sides have argued that Chicago-style hot dogs or mooseburgers or Arizona's regional snackfoods (mmm, Poore Brothers habanero chips) should be crowned the Election Edible of '08, we're favoring the Philly cheesesteak.

We know -- none of the candidates are actually from the Keystone State (although Senator Biden has family ties). But it seemed like just about every time we looked at the news there was a presidential or vice-presidential candidate sitting at a picnic table in Philadelphia biting into a big ol' soft sandwich dripping with gooey cheese and onions. With that in mind (and in stomach), we think the cheesesteak is the ideal election day lunch. Here are three SoCal shops that know how to sling the sizzling goodness:

Philly West Bar and Grill: Looking for an authentic hoagie? They got 'em, and several different ways, too. This Westwood sub emporium also serves beer, which we think thinks lends a nice smoky note to a very savory sandwich. 1870 Westwood Boulevard, Los Angeles. 310-474-9787

Phil's Round-Up, Farmers Market: The meat is chopped pretty fine, and isn't overly spiced. We're also mad for the shoestring-y fries fried-up at this beloved old-school diner. The paper boats that hold the fries are large enough to share, unless you have a hunger worked up from all that cable viewing. Farmers Market, 6333 W. Third Street, Los Angeles. 323-933-9211

Big Mike's: Sandwiches at this South Bay spot have serious followings. If you want to do it up, ask for peppers and loads of Cheese Whiz. 1314 Hermosa Avenue, Hermosa Beach. 310-798-1499

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