Unpacking Gov’t Taco’s inventive taco creations, inspired by U.S. government—and flavors 

We can’t talk about tacos without the owner of Gov’t Taco Jay Ducote. Since opening the first location of his taco shop at White Star Market on Government Street in 2018, he has been creating his own colorful spin on street tacos, themed around the U.S. government and made with fresh and bold ingredients.

After turning his food stand into a standalone restaurant on election day of 2020, Gov’t Taco has become a Mid City staple, voted “Best Tacos” in the annual Best of 225 Awards four years in a row. It serves tacos made with coffee- and chile-braised beef, skirt steak, smoked chicken thighs and Nashville hot chicken skins, and even pimento mac and cheese.

Here’s what you need to know about making the perfect taco, straight from the taco expert himself.

225: Why tacos?

Jay Ducote: (A taco) is able to deliver a full meal of flavors and textures in one bite. It’s a lot of different components coming together in a small, handheld package where everything is intentional and there to create a perfect bite. 

What makes a perfect taco?

Contrast in textures and flavors. A perfect taco is going to have every component of flavor in one bite. Some sort of acid, a fat component, some crunch, some chew, some creaminess or mushiness and heat. It doesn’t have to have a traditional protein—just something to give it some body. 

What’s your must-have ingredient?

I’m a cheese guy. I love exploring different cheeses, like going beyond just a shredded cheese. I like playing around with goat cheese, blue cheese, feta and different ways to do cheese, mac and cheese, melty cheese on the flattop, queso to elevate a taco with that fat from dairy but in the form of cheese. 

What’s one thing every taco needs to have? 

You probably need to have some sort of sauce component for flavor and texture. Whether it’s salsa, cream-based sauce, sour cream or hot sauce, tacos with no sauce may be lacking.

What’s one way to upgrade a basic taco? 

Look at what is missing. If it’s lacking textural contrast, add a crunchy element (nuts, seeds, fried bits, switching it to a crunchy shell). I look for a balance of salt and fat and acid and heat and make sure all of that is getting delivered to ensure it’s a fully rounded dish.  

This article was originally published in the November 2022 issue of 225 magazine.