Doc’s Lab

cuisine, culture, community

Doc’s Lab is a versatile subterranean performance venue located at 124 Columbus Avenue between Jackson and Pacific on the western edge of the Jackson Square Historic District—a neighborhood with a long history of food and entertainment dating back to the Barbary Coast Era of the Gold Rush. Doc’s Lab, and the street level Doc Ricketts restaurant, have both undergone extensive renovations to preserve the 1911 building.

Doc’s Lab and Doc Ricketts’ chef Justin Deering (Conduit, 15 Romolo) offers his guests creative, refined and approachable Northern California cuisine. His food celebrates San Francisco and Monterey Bay regions’ fresh ingredients, while also showcasing an in-house charcuterie program. The thoughtfully designed wine list and artisan cocktails complement Deering’s menu. 

The basement originally housed a dance hall, then the legendary comedy and music venue The Purple Onion. Over decades many musicians, comedians, and artists performed (and some even launched their careers) at The Purple Onion—including Phyllis Diller, The Kingston Trio, The Smothers Brothers, Maya Angelou, Richard Pryor, Woody Allen, Robin Williams, Bob Newhart, Lenny Bruce, Jim Nabors, Judah Friedlander, and Zach Galifianakis.

Doc’s Lab and Doc Ricketts get their name from the renowned American marine biologist Ed Ricketts. Ricketts lived in Monterey during the 30’s and 40’s, and became a prominent member of the community. In his lab, night after night he hosted writers, artists, scientists, philosophers, musicians, and locals. Author John Steinbeck, who was a close friend, created “Doc”, the beloved main character in his book Cannery Row after Ricketts. Doc and other characters inspired by Ricketts also appeared in Steinbeck’s Sweet Thursday (Doc), and The Grapes of Wrath (Jim Casy).

Today the extensively renovated venue hosts a wide range of live entertainment including comedy, music, and literary events.  Inspired by San Francisco, and particularly North Beach’s rich history in literature, culture and the arts, Doc’s Lab offers a unique experience complemented by artisan cocktails and Chef Justin Deering’s cuisine.