Doughnuts, caffeine, booze, cigarettes, cannabis, tater tots — all the things you need to feed your vices, and all under one roof. Habit Doughnut Dispensary and Carbon Cafe & Bar, the conjoined shops at 1553 Platte Street, now have a new sibling at 2200 California Street in Five Points.
Rather than two separate spaces with a connecting doorway, the new Habit Carbon Five Points mashup combines all the elements of both businesses under one roof. If you want, though, you can enter the cafe from 22nd Street to get the full doughnut experience, where a mural of J Dilla, painted by street artist Delton Demarest, hovers over you like some kind of doughnut angel. Or you can enter from the door on California Street, where you'll notice a cushy retro lounge decked out with back copies of Rolling Stone and an order counter that segues from espresso drinks to beer and cocktails.
Owner Lisa Ruskaup has a story for nearly every physical object, menu item and beverage in the place. J Dilla, for example, was selected as the doughnut shop's patron saint because of his final album, Donuts, which was released shortly before he died in 2006. And Demarest works with Denver's Birdseed Collective, a nonprofit organization geared toward youth and art created by artists who once tagged the alleyways behind Habit/Carbon before turning toward more civic-minded endeavors. The walls and bar are decorated with graffiti panels that are reproductions of the scrawlings left by decades of Paris on the Platte customers, who called 16th and Platte home until 2015 (Ruskaup took over that space later that year).
In the kitchen, chef Daniel Salvesen oversees a menu imbued with rock, hip-hop and weed references. Carbon's Wu Tang tots, a fan favorite at the original location, make an appearance, served with Method sauce, smothered in country gravy or loaded with all the things you'd find on a steakhouse baked potato. Doobie snacks (like housemade pigs in blankets), a Rocket Man sandwich (spicy fried chicken) and Mac Daddy pasta continue the theme, but the food is no joke. All the breads, from the brioche sandwich buns to the seven-grain bread on the avocado-mushroom toast, are made from scratch, and of course, so are the doughnuts, which get a little automation in the form of a doughnut robot named The Dude — essentially a conveyor belt that ushers a dozen doughnuts every five minutes through a hot oil bath.
Ruskaup thoroughly researched hemp and liquor laws to maximize the possibilities in the food and beverage program. She points out that Colorado's confectionery laws allow up to a half-ounce of booze in a pastry or dessert (even for places with no liquor license), so Habit sells injections of Baileys, Fernet-Branca, Kahlúa and other spirits that you can squeeze into or onto your doughnuts, even if you take them to go. And after reading the recent federal Farm Bill, she also determined that she could sell hemp-based CBD supplements, which can be added as butter, oil, coconut oil or bitters to be added to coffee drinks, cocktails or food. While you won't get high, the idea is to balance caffeine and alcohol with the calming properties of CBD.
Other amusing surprises include a doughnut blonde ale made by Woods Boss Brewing next door, a combo pack that combines Mickey's malt liquor with a dozen doughnuts (though you'll have to finish your Mickey's before you walk out the door), and hip-hop mad libs printed onto the sun shades on the corner windows (so you can finish the phrase "I don't know but today seems kinda...")
Because this is a combination doughnut shop and coffeehouse, things get started early. Habit Carbon opens at 7 a.m. daily, so you can get your sugar fix or stop in for a grab-and-go burrito, bag of granola, breakfast sandwich or full-on breakfast plate. Happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. sees the space transition into a dinner and cocktail hangout, and there's also room for night owls, since closing time isn't until midnight Sunday through Thursday and 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.