Tex-Mex Debuts

It’s so fast, “dirty,” and delicious that the swim coach had already eaten three of them even before the grand opening.

That was Kevin Norman’s confession as he watched chef Benny Puidal prepare what the Yale University assistant swim team coach calls his “secret Friday treat.”

That would be a soft-shelled burrito filled with “house-rubbed steak” and other condiments or pile-on ingredients of your choice. In the case of Norman those included cheese, mixed salsa, corn, and, to be really bad, a dash of sour cream.

The scene of the culinary action Friday morning was the grand opening of Tomatillo Taco Joint at 320 Elm St. in the site of the long-gone Bulldog Burrito at the corner of Park Street.

The official ribbon-cutting grand opening, organized by Yale University Properties, took place Friday.

“We hit the ground running,” said Sherif Farouk, the co-owner of the new eatery. His partner is Moe Gad, who owns Pacifico, where Farouk for six years was the manager until he decided to launch his own first business venture.

Allan Appel PhotoFarouk’s main customer base: area college students. Yale University Properties’ Abigail Rider praised Farouk and Tomatillo, which has one other store in Cos Cob, as representing precisely the “premium we put on attracting local and regional entrepreneurs so it’s not a trip to the mall.”

She said the Greater New Haven area has approximately 50,000 college students.

That’s potentially a lot of dirty steaks, nachos, burrito bowls, and carnitas.

While Pacifico serves a general Latino cuisine from various countries of South America, Tomatillo Taco Joint is all Mexican. Rider said that in all the surveys the university does among its students, they ask for good, fresh Tex Mex.

As he exited back to the gym, coach Norman said the food was delicious, the place clean and “awesome.”

Still he’s a coach first and a dirty steak lover second. He said he is keeping the place a secret from his athletes: “Not a good thing to get into [regularly].”

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