The search function lets you do the following things
a. Search for a particular word (e.g. Ixcapuzalco)
b. Search for a word and its variants (e.g. chees* gets you cheese, cheeses, and cheesesteak).
c. Search for posts that contain all of group of words (pizza AND thin AND crust)
d. Search for posts that contain one term but not a second (Italian NOT beef*).
e. Search for posts by a specific author (although you'll do that more easily if you start at the "memberlist" page).
1. How do I find posts about a particular restaurant?
a. Good: Type the name of the restaurant. Choose the "Eating out in Chicagoland" forum. Hit enter.
Example: Let's say you're trying to find posts about The Berghoff (which I happen to like more than a lot of other posters and this is my chance to say so). The obvious thing to do is to type "Berghoff" into the search box and hit enter. As of today, that will get you four posts mentioning the Berghoff. That may be all you need but it's not all that's available.
b. Better. Type the name of the restaurant with an * at the end, e.g. Berghoff*. Choose the Eating out in Chicagoland Forum. Hit enter.
Lo and behold another post comes up. Why didn't this perfectly fine post show up on the first search? Because the author referred to the restaurant as Berghoff's, something people commonly do with restaurants. Using the * gets you all posts in which the word Berghoff plus anything else is used. If you also want to account for poor spellers, you can shorten the name a little, e.g. Bergh*. (Just don't shorten it too much. Berg* gets you information about Bergen New Jersey and bergamot scented teas.)
2. What if the restaurant has more than one word in its name, e.g Gene and Jude's?
a. Good: Use your * with whatever you think is the least common word in the name. (Warning, this is a good example of why you need to use the wildcard: Just typing "Jude" won't get you to the post titled "The Greatest Hotdog Stand in the World"). In this case, if you try "Gene*" you'll quickly discover that the word "generally" includes the word "gene" and you'll have lots and lots of posts that aren't what you want. So try Jude*. This will get you posts about dining with a friend named Jude, but will also get you the Gene and Jude posts.
b. Better. Use the "AND" function. Gene* AND Jude*. Perfect!
3. What if I want restaurants in a particular neighborhood?
You can try to search by the name of the neighborhood (e.g. Bridgeport, Albany AND Park). You can also try a particular street name (e.g. Devon, Damen). You can look at the lovely Chicago chow map at http://www.lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?t=388
Or you can just post an inquiry and see what responses you get.
4. How do I search for posts about the "Little" Three Happiness Restaurant?
The secret for finding posts about the restaurant, as opposed to a million general posts about this forum named for the restaurant, is to limit your search (as you should every time you're searching for a specific restaurant) to the Eating out in Chicagoland forum. Then Search for "Little AND Three AND Happiness".
5. Why do I keep getting a message saying "Warning: Page has Expired" every time I try to go back to my list of search results?
Apparently this is a Microsoft Explorer "security precaution". To get back to your results page hit the refresh key on your Internet Explorer task bar (it looks like a piece of paper with some scribbles on it) and then hit "retry" when the next message comes up. It's a pain, but it works.
6. How do I search for the best Chicago pizza?
Not easily. What fun would it be if there was just one place everyone agreed had the best pizza in town?. Here your best bet is to do some slogging. Go ahead and just type pizza into the search box, choose the Eating Out in Chicagoland forum, and hit enter. Look down the list of topics for a lively one (how about "Shattered Faith in Chicago Pizza") and dig in.
7. Okay, I get it, but I'm new to Chicago and this group and I would really like to know what some of the best places are that people have discovered. I promise that I'll go discover some more good places on my own, but in the meantime, can't you please tell me what some of the favorites are?
All right. If you insist. And if you promise not to think that some group of food gods has decided that these are the "best" restaurants in Chicago, even of their types. But yes, there is a series of posts called "The Essentials" about some of the most noteworthy off-the-beaten-track favorites. Search for "essentials" in the Eating Out in Chicagoland forum. You'll enjoy the posts--and probably the restaurants as well.
[Ed. Note by Mike G: There's also this post.