While in Istanbul, it would be a shame to not at least try a meyhane - a traditional multi-course meal accompanied by music and dancing. The most popular are around Nevizade, the famous cafe-lined street just off the center of Istiklal Cd.
While slightly overpriced, Cumhuriyet (Sahne Sokak 17) is a good bet - it was Ataturk's favorite back in the day, and it's popular with locals as much as tourists.
What to expect: you'll start with a selection of hot and cold meze (small plates, like tapas), then proceed to a main course (usually fish), with a dessert of fresh fruit. Raki (aniseed-flavored liquor), wine, beer and/or tea will be served liberally throughout.
The band can be loud but that's just part of the atmosphere. If you don't end the night dancing with some new friends you haven't picked the right meyhane.