3 Şeyhbender Sokak
Tel: 90 212 292 7368
This ever-popular venue is owned by music and events company Pozitif, which also has a hand in the Doublemoon label, home to many of Turkey's leading names in rock, jazz, electronica, and world music. Many of these musicians play regular sets there, along with big international names like Courtney Pine, Stereolab, and Arrested Development. Babylon's smaller size and hippie edge make for a friendly atmosphere and an intimate experience; look out for their special monthly club nights, such as the high-spirited Oldies But Goldies. Tickets often sell out days in advance, so buy ahead, and bear in mind that the club closes over the summer and moves to Alaçatı on the Aegean coast.
Closed Sundays and Mondays.
5 General Yazgan Sokak
Tel: 90 212 249 0550
As chichi venues and cutting-edge bars proliferate around Istanbul like popcorn, bohemian Badehane remains a haven of laid-back café life—the ideal antidote to the sweeping trend of trendiness. Located on a backstreet corner just behind Tünel Square, it's an inconspicuous one-room wonder that's nonetheless impossible to miss thanks to the scores of tables spilling out onto the street. Badehane comes into its own on Wednesday nights when live musicians, often headed up by local legend Selim Sesler, regale the crowd with beguiling gypsy tunes.
10 Kalyoncu Kulluk Caddesi
Tel: 90 212 251 7501
A former bakery set in a split-level historic building with 33-foot ceilings adorned with frescoes, Ghetto is a self-proclaimed music lounge (except without sofas) catering to an affluent crowd of enthusiasts from their 20s into middle age. The fare covers the spectrum of world music as well as cutting-edge brands of jazz. Sets don't normally begin until around 11 p.m.; until then, the venue serves as a more peaceful bar. Turkish fare, usually a set-menu dinner, is also served upstairs.
Closed Sundays and Mondays.
7 Küçük Bayram Sokak
Tel: 90 212 244 8736
The Hall opened in 2007 in the center of Beyoğlu in a former shoe factory that later became studios for the famous Yeşilçam film industry. Now an after-hours club, its dance floor is usually full between midnight and 4 am with twenty- to fortysomethings dancing to the sounds of feel-good house. The club consists of five high-ceilinged, exposed-brick rooms; three bars; a large hall; and a fast-food area for late-night munchies. The Hall's spirited events coordinator, Saruhan, flies in many genuine legends among house DJs, including New York City's Todd Terry and Jonathan Moore from the U.K.'s Coldcut. The atmosphere is enhanced by shows from video impresarios like local talent VJ Snow, as well as occasional performances by live bands.
Usually open Thursdays through Saturdays 10 pm to 4 am; check Web site for details.
Istiklal Caddesi, Tomtom Mahallesi, Akarsu Sokak
Mısır Apartmanı No. 1-2-4-5
Tel: 90 212 244 8567
A fail-safe weekend destination for serious clubbers and fans of electronic, house, techno, and pop. The split-level space (the back side of the building that contains 360 Istanbul) is habitually packed with revelers who dance themselves into a frenzied sweat on the floor. So be prepared to boogie with attitude—or be trodden on. The program is usually a string of sets by both local and visiting European DJs, live acts by various bands (mostly of electronic influence), and increasingly popular video mixes projected on screens around the club.
14 Kuledibi Sokak
Tel: 90 212 244 6327
Every bit the real-deal jazz joint, with a dark, musky interior of exposed brick and a small stage that sees a variety of mostly local jazz acts. Vocalists, pianists, trios, or quartets play every night of the week except Sunday to a largely older crowd that tends to pack the venue by the time the music starts around 10 pm. Located on a side street just behind the Galata Tower, Nardis also serves a slightly overpriced dinner menu and will impose a cover charge, whether you choose to eat or not.
Closed Sundays and the month of August.
44 Muallim Nacı Caddesi
Tel: 90 212 259 5919
This summer club extraordinaire inspires a more ambivalent reaction among Istanbullus than any other venue you could name. The outdoor complex sits on the edge of the Bosphorus just near the first suspension bridge, housing a handful of chic dining rooms around the periphery of a huge dance floor that buzzes into the small hours underneath a giant open-air chandelier. Excessive bling is the order of the day: Brace yourself for Istanbul's shortest skirts hanging off the jailbait bodies of the city's best-bred debutantes (even if that's not your sort of thing, it's worth putting up with them for the most fabulous setting in town). Door policy is strict, so dress smart and keep group malefemale ratios balanced.