Emphasize certain tags / can't decide how to use them

i’m working on a migration to discourse. on the old forum, we have quite a lot of categories and subcategories. one of my categories has like 10 subcategories, and we have resisted adding more of them for obvious reasons.

hypothetical example:


imagine a Food category with subcategories like Asian, European, American.

i like the idea of getting rid of subcategories and using tags instead. multiple tags can be applied to a topic, and we could make many more tags without feeling guilty about polluting the schema with endless classification or infrequently-used tags. imagine tags like japanese, chinese, thai, nepalese, pasta, eggs, sautée, technique, noodles, breakfast.

but a problem i have is that the tags aren’t prominently displayed on the category view page like subcategories would be in the screenshot above.

i would love for a subset of tags or a tag group (just Asian, European, American) to somehow be displayed prominently to users both for browsing and posting purposes.

tags also seem to lack the concept of order/position.

tags do have descriptions though similar to categories which is really nice.

so despite the advantages of tags, am i right that they are missing some ‘first class’ features that categories have?

can some of this stuff be implemented via theme components? like at least displaying a tag group prominently inside of a category on categories page?

or maybe a category tag cloud with one tag group stickied inside of it? something like that could be cool.

i have considered keeping a few subcategories as the bare minimum and using tags for the rest, but my problem with that is subcategories are mutually exclusive. it would be quite reasonable to tag a topic with both Asian and European, for example.

thanks for your insight