Step inside Mang Dedoy’s, a mom-and-pop Filipino restaurant in Northwest Austin, and you can’t help but feel transported. Maybe it’s the bright aqua walls hung with baskets of flowers and framed tropical paintings. Or perhaps it's the cool quench of coconut water as your meal sizzles in the kitchen. Or is it the big screen TV in the corner, usually playing lively Filipino variety shows?
The whimsical space, opened by Candido and Corazón Raygon almost a decade ago, was a result of a happy accident — though it wasn’t quite so happy at the time.
Candido, who goes by the nickname "Mang Dedoy," was on a ladder when he fell 20 feet to the ground and was knocked unconscious. His wife, Corazón, a registered nurse who had recently transferred from the Philippines to work in Texas, tended to him until the paramedics arrived.
After ankle surgery, the doctors advised Candido not to return to his job as a cashier at Wal-Mart, where he was standing for long shifts each day.
“I talked to my wife and she said, ‘What do you want? Do you want to open a small business?’” Candido remembers. “We asked permission from the Filipino-American Association. And they said, ‘Go ahead, we need it!’ Because at that time we did not have any sort of Filipino restaurants or grocery stores in Austin.”
Candido first started a small Filipino grocery store in the garage of his Millwood home, but his four children encouraged him to seek out a space in the community for more exposure. While taking a walk with Corazón one day, they saw a small strip of spaces under construction on Anderson Mill Road — the future site of Mang Dedoy’s.
In 2006, Mang Dedoy's opened as a grocery store featuring Filipino items such as pancit noodles; jasmine rice; banana sauce; coconut vinegar; beans and fruits for making halo-halo; fresh produce; and coolers full of cassava, ube, fish and meat.
However, with an H-E-B and Wal-Mart close by (both carrying some basic Filipino products), business wasn't booming. After three or four quiet months, they decided to downsize the grocery element and build a restaurant instead. After all, even in our burgeoning food town, Filipino food was (and really, still is) very hard to find.
“Before we opened, the health inspectors even asked us to prepare our food in front of them,” remembers Candido. “They were unfamiliar with Filipino food and wanted to see how it was prepared.”
While Candido runs the management side of the business, Corazón does all the cooking, a skill she began practicing while stationed as a nurse in Saudi Arabia.
“It was just like a hobby,” says Corazón humbly. “It was very boring there and cooking was the best thing I could do. I always worked the night shift so I would bring dinner to my co-workers and feed them.”
On top of running the kitchen at Mang Dedoy’s, Corazón still manages to work as a nurse three days a week. (Though the couple is currently looking to hire a Filipino cook.)
“Most of the time I am here though,” she says with a shrug and a big smile. “I enjoy it ... When you cook, you cook by your heart. Even if you follow the directions, you should know how to mix the ingredients specially.”
And as a nurse, Corazón makes sure her dishes are good for the heart as well. “My food is heart healthy because I don’t really use a lot of salt, not even in my adobo,” she promises. “The taste is coming from the ingredients.”
The home-style specials, written on a dry erase board on the wall, fluctuate daily but include beef caldereta, a savory-sweet stew with potatoes and peas; Bicol Express, pork cooked in coconut milk with ginger, lemongrass and chili; pancit bihon, comforting thin noodles tossed with carrot, pork, green beans and finished with a squeeze of lemon; crispy lumpia, or Filipino egg rolls; lechon kawali, super crisp chunks of pork belly with a sweet and sour sauce; and a sour tamarind soup called sinigang.
Candido says much of their business comes from loyal Filipino locals who dine for lunch, as well as catering large parties as a take-out option, with smaller events hosted at the restaurant itself. (For an instant party, visit on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday, when they host karaoke in both Filipino and English!) The dining room can accommodate parties of up to 40 people and they also offer a 50-pound roasted pig option as well.
“That is the one thing I cook — manually over the charcoal,” says Candido. “That’s our delicacy. Only rich people in the Philippines have the lechon!”
Corazón admits that baking is her favorite method of cooking (and she bakes with less sugar as well). Besides the traditional cassava cake and leche flan she makes for the restaurant, as well as halo-halo sundaes and ginataan coconut and yam soup, she’ll occasionally get to bake cakes or cupcakes for party orders and her children’s birthdays.
“My children say my cooking is good,” says Corazón. “When I’m cooking, I also pray that I cook everything to have good taste.” She lets out a hearty laugh, then adds, “And everything I cook here is delicious!”
Mang Dedoy is located at 8863 Anderson Mill Rd.