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Chicago Style

You might not want to visit Kenney D's on a diet, but they know their fried foods

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In a metro area with about 1 million people, Tucson probably has more than its fair share of Chicago-style sandwich joints. You can pick from the Luke's locations, the various joints that seem to come and quickly go (e.g., the now-closed Chicago Fast-Food or Bubby's Chicago Style), and Kenney D's. Kenney D's is owned by one of Luke's sons, and though many of the menu items are the same, the recipes and execution are quite different.

The portions at Kenney D's are monstrous, so prepare to share or take home leftovers. The food is inexpensive, plentiful and consistently good, with a few exceptions. The service is friendly and prompt, and overall it's a decent place to grab a quick and hearty bite on the southeast side.

French fries are always an issue of personal taste, and I generally dislike crinkle-cut fries. But the ones at Kenney D's are really, really tasty ($3.25 for a regular order and $1.75 for a small; fries aren't included with sandwiches or entrées). Fried extra crispy on the outside, they were still nice and fluffy on the inside, and they were hot out of the fryer. Inferno hot. With the addition of a little salt, they were nearly fry perfection. The onion rings ($3.25) were also delicious—not too much batter, and prepared so that when you take a bite the whole onion doesn't slide out, leaving an empty batter casing behind.

Kenney D's offers a slew of other deep-fried and carb-a-licious goodies, from fried mushrooms and zucchini ($3.60 each) to Bosco cheese bread ($4.75 for an order of three). I'd never had Bosco bread before, but I will definitely know to order it next time I'm craving breadsticks stuffed with gooey cheese and brushed with garlic butter—my cholesterol went up 10 points just thinking about it.

But the sandwiches are the meat of Kenney D's menu (pardon the fully intended pun). The Italian beef ($6.95 large, $5.75 small) is one of the best I've had outside of Chicago. Order it with the hot peppers if you can stomach them (they are quite spicy), and you'll be rewarded with tons of flavor. The beef is tender and super juicy, and the spices and seasonings are spot on. Nearly all of the sandwiches are served on very crusty French bread, which tastes great but makes the huge sandwiches all the more filling.

Another good choice was the Italian sausage ($6.75 large, $5.50 small, $7.65 double meat), again with the hot peppers. The sausage was spicy, with great flavor. Every good Chicago-style sandwich joint has to serve the ubiquitous Chicago dog (no ketchup!), and Kenney D's does it right. I (foolishly) ordered the double ($6), which comes on French bread instead of the traditional bun ($4 for the single on the bun or $6 for the foot-long Polish done up Chicago dog-style).

The only disappointment on either of our visits was the burger. I ordered the half-pound Kenney D's Burger ($5.90, or $4.45 for the quarter-pound), which comes with bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and Thousand Island dressing. The burger had been cooked to death and was simultaneously greasy and very dry. The lettuce was limp, the tomatoes weren't ripe, the cheese wasn't melted and the onions were pungent. It was a disappointment on all fronts.

While the place isn't much to look at, there's something to that adage of not judging a book by its cover (or a greasy spoon by its décor). Aside from the misstep with the burger, the sandwiches were hot, huge, incredibly filling and inexpensive—definitely worth stopping in.

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