There is something undeniably special about Habit Doughnut Dispensary and Carbon Cafe. First of all, the names of these co-branded and seamlessly coexisting concepts sharing the same roof may lead one to wonder what exactly could be offered in such a unique environment.
Truly, despite the plethora of innovative restaurants in the Mile High City, there is nothing quite like “Habit Carbon,” which serves as an all-day eatery, edgy watering hole, brightly-colored bakery and one-stop shop for shooters, swag, sweets and more.
It all began with CEO and founder Lisa Ruskaup — a restaurant visionary with an extensive background in design, business and hospitality, who opened the original Habit Carbon on Platte Street in 2015.
In a hip location on the edge of a concrete jungle, Habit Carbon has consistently been that cool kid on the block who keeps to themselves while always doing something right. Throw in some playful art, music and a menu which caters to health nuts and doughnut-lovers alike, and it’s no surprise that a second location in Five Points was absolutely necessary.
This outpost, located in the newly revitalized historic Arapahoe Square, shares a similarly funky, industrial feel as the original Habit Carbon. Ruskaup’s desire to create a space that is both eclectic and comfortable is apparent in her strategic design. “My whole life I have tried to create places that surprise you, pique your curiosity and are better than expected to keep you coming back,” she said. The space boasts high ceilings, decorative frames on exposed brick, musically-inspired murals, interactive chalkboards, mismatched chairs, colorful graffiti-on-glass and cheeky slogans, amongst other notable details.
One of the restaurant’s entrances is guarded by a mural featuring J Dilla, created by Denver artist Delton Demarest.
According to Ruskaup, J Dilla, who famously put out an album titled Donuts, is “the patron saint of the Five Points location.”
Slightly hidden on a side wall, Ruskaup has painted lyrics from Problems III by The Growlers, which she says is relevant to the location because it is tied to the mission statement of Habit Carbon being a place for everyone to be in their element.
To emphasize this mission, Ruskaup and her team have also succeeded in developing what she calls an “elemental, accessible menu,” offering a little something for everyone.
Aside from Habit’s iconic doughnuts such as Feed My Habit ($3) with raspberry glaze, streusel, white chocolate and blueberry, or I’m Just Glazed ($2) with a simple malted milk glaze, Carbon Cafe offers an extensive list of snacks, salads, breakfast items, bowls and handhelds.
Habit Carbon’s soft, buttery brioche is a common fixture on the menu that may be enjoyed in the form of Doobie Snaks ($6/$9)—brioche wrapped smokie sausages with stone ground mustard, the S.E.C ($9.50)—a house specialty made with country sausage, sunny egg and rich cheddar in a brioche pocket, or one of the Dead Battery Club Stuffed Buns ($4), a popular menu item from Ruskaup’s other restaurant concept which comes with a choice of veggie, jamon and manchego, or braised short rib filling.
One may also enjoy the essential brioche in the DBC Panzanella salad ($10), the giant iced cinnamon brioche bun ($4), or as a base for the infamous millennial favorite — avocado mushroom toast ($10).
While any of these options may easily be categorized as decadent comfort foods, Ruskaup has also made a point to offer dishes for people with various dietary restrictions and preferences.
There is a selection of lighter, more vegetable-forward fare such as the Warm Quinoa Toss ($10) or gluten-free alternatives to otherwise naughty plates including the devil-fried chicken and waffles ($13) which may be extra-devil-fried for an additional hit of spice.
Speaking of “hits,” Ruskaup has expanded the options to enhance each dish with “sauce hits” and add-ons that go beyond more recognizable flavors like Korean BBQ or goddess ranch. Delightful, (perhaps, euphoric) upgrades such as CBD infusions will also be available to elevate a wide range of food and beverages. These CBD “bumps” are available for $2 in the form of oil or butter which is recommended in hot beverages, coffee, and doughnuts, while CBD bitters may add a little calm to your cocktail, and CBD coconut water is available to add a hydrating and relaxing effect to any beverage on the menu. CBD-infused kombucha will also be available soon.
Did someone say “booze-infused doughnuts?” Just ask nicely because any doughnut may be infused with your choice of liquor with a little pipette.
Whether someone is seeking a CBD Cold Brew on-the-go, or wishes to pull up a seat at the large central bar for a mid-day, late-night, or even a morning cocktail, the beverage program at Habit Carbon is sure to impress.
The Concrete Jungle ($10), made with Smith & Cross & Appleton rum, Campari, fresh pineapple, bell pepper syrup and mint, is a tangy, refreshing cocktail that packs a light punch, while the Nitro Bourbon Manhattan ($8) marries the classic flavors of a Manhattan with Carbon’s signature cold brew.
Among the exciting new features at Habit Carbon Five Points is a doughnut robot turning out 450 fresh doughnuts per hour, which may “feed your habit” while all-day food, drinks, and late-night snacks shall keep diners satisfied in this fresh, fabulous atmosphere.
Starting on Tuesday, February 5, Habit Carbon Five Points will be open seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to midnight, Sunday—Thursday and 7 a.m. to 2 a.m Friday—Saturday, with happy hour from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
Habit Carbon is located at 2200 California St., Denver All photography by Amanda Piela.