Okay it’s more of a restaurant than a club, but you should only book into Zarifi (rammed on prime nights, so booking is essential) if you’re interested in a raucous night out involving a good bit of dancing and loud music, which is basically clubbing in Istanbul.
The food, Turkish, Greek and Arabic, is perfectly good; though it’s not a headliner on the bill, it does come first. The very elegantly decorated interior fills up with a smart crowd, generally in their late 20s to 40s, around 9-10pm with people typically dining in large groups.
As the evening progresses and the meze are washed down with increasing amounts of raki and wine, the in-house DJs beginning cranking up the volume on the Turkish and oriental pop hits and the fun starts. First, it’s just a few more exuberant types waving their arms around to the music, then a few stand up, others get on chairs, and soon the table-tops are as crowded as the dance-floor.
The peak comes when the live entertainment takes over from the DJs, especially when it’s a band of attractive Roma drummers who beat out atavistic rhythms and send the place crazy. The restaurant refuses to release statistics on how many customers die of heart attacks but it must be a significant number.
A good, totally unpretentious Turkish night out.