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The quirky vibe and fun flavors of Gov’t Taco

My first impression of Gov’t Taco was one of delight. I loved the upcycling of an old building on a once-
ignored corner of Government Street.

A large outdoor tent in front partially obscured the restaurant’s signage, but it was gratifying to see COVID-19 was being taken seriously with outdoor seating and prominent warning signs on the door.

Last year, Gov’t Taco left its tiny digs at the now-defunct White Star Market, so I was curious what it might have in store in a larger space.

Inside, the decor is minimalist with tons of dark, moody tones and very little bright color. The decor is a take on iconic American imagery and political themes, giving diners something to contemplate before ordering.

Naturally, the menu focuses on tacos, but we were excited to see seafood and vegetarian options amongst the swine and bovine.

We began with an appetizer, dubbed The Boston Beet Party. Gov’t Taco’s version of hummus was shockingly pink from the beet tahini and was punctuated with a swirl of chimichurri and crunchy pickled jicama. It was seriously flavorful. Fried flour tortilla chips rather than corn are always a welcome indulgence and made a beautiful pairing with this dip, even though they were somewhat greasy on our visit. Still, I couldn’t resist the appetizer’s delicious charms.

Another side option, The Bean-Geoisie, was a sweeter bowl of beans than I was expecting, but it had a nice heat to finish off the mole-infused flavors. This hearty serving would go perfectly with some white rice and a touch of hot sauce to quell the sugar.

Moving on to the tacos, I was initially overwhelmed by the overt tartness of the Buffalo Bill’s sauce on the fried buffalo chicken. A second bite did nothing for me, despite the blue cheese cream and addition of cabbage and carrots, and I abandoned the dish.

Thankfully the Bovine Bureaucracy of shredded coffee-chile beef more than made up for that miss. Dollops of cumin crema and punches of pickled jalapeno rounded out this tasty three-biter.

Equally meaty and satisfying was the Uncle Swine. Described as orange-cherry-chile-braised pork, the braising liquid was apparent but dominated by chile powder over other seasonings. I didn’t mind the intense chile flavor at all—it was delicious. A dusting of cotija cheese added great salinity throughout.

I purposefully saved the two vegetarian choices for last, thinking they would be my favorites. The Magna Carrot had an interesting grassiness to the cane-glazed carrots that complemented the earthy black bean base. Goat cheese was nearly overshadowed on this taco, but the sprinkling of pepitas elevated the crunch factor.

I was most looking forward to the Operation Molé, and I wasn’t disappointed. Piquant mole sauce coated but never smothered the roasted sweet potatoes. Crispy and airy quinoa was a surprise, although it soon got lost beneath the weightiness of the other ingredients.

Thrilled with my final vegetarian bites, I was full and happy.

Don’t skip dessert. Gov’t Taco was serving up a vegan Key lime sugar cookie and Mexican hot chocolate cookie on our visit.

Dessert offerings are limited to two cookie and two ice cream options. We went with the cookies. Though I’ve never personally been a fan of vegan baked goods, our server convinced me I wouldn’t be disappointed with the Key Lime Sugar Cookie. A crisped bottom with a soft and pleasingly chewy center made these really stand out. The flavor was mild with just enough sweetness to satisfy, and a sprinkle of granulated sugar rounded out this truly exceptional treat.

Sweetness was definitely not lacking in the Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookie. Nor was the pepper that lingered in the back of my throat. Subtle cinnamon enhanced the crunchy chocolate exterior while melted chocolate chunks added ooey goodness. Though fantastic—and I can’t believe I’m actually admitting this—the chocolate cookie was categorically defeated in the dessert round by the vegan sugar cookie.

I was seduced by Gov’t Taco with its interesting flavors and inventive ingredient combinations. Somehow all the craziness worked and blended together splendidly. Even that vegan dessert. With a full bar, provocative cocktail menu and scrumptious tacos, this is a jovial spot to fill your belly—whether in its stylized dining room or under the tent.

THE BASICS: Local food personality Jay Ducote and his team took the Gov’t Taco brand into a brick-and-mortar restaurant space in November 2020. The Mid City hangout plays up a lot of the popular tacos that worked in its former White Star Market space, and adds a large cocktail lineup and a variety of sides and happy hour snacks to the roster.

WHAT’S A MUST: Dip some tortilla chips into the Boston Beet Party, a spin on hummus with beet tahini and swirls of chimichurri. For the tacos, the Bovine Bureaucracy with shredded coffee-chile beef is always a favorite. Or go the vegetarian route with the Operation Molé, featuring roasted sweet potatoes smothered in a complex mole sauce.


govttaco.com

5621 Government St.

Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

Our food critic’s name may be false, but the credentials are not. This gastronome has studied the history, cultivation, preparation, science and technology of food for more than 30 years.


This article was originally published in the May 2021 issue of 225 magazine.


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