The Cedar-Riverside area in Minneapolis, near the University of Minnesota's West Bank and in the area of Augsburg College, is a relatively vibrant urban area with a lot to offer if you're looking to get away from the traditional haunts of Stadium Village and Dinkytown. There are several bars and pubs in the area worth checking out, particularly if you like live music.
The Red Sea offers a quality menu all day if you're thinking about trying a new restaurant in the area, but in order to get the full experience you have to check out some live music. As a music venue, Red Sea is a good balance of intimate without being small. They have a solid, long happy hour from 4-9pm where you can grab any beer or a rail for $2.50 on weekdays.
By this point I know what you're thinking.
"But Jeff, isn't Cedar-Riverside a "bad" area?"
The answer is sure, it could be considered a bit of a "bad" area. Not helping C-R's cred are the eyesore "crack stacks" in the area. Also not helping the cred is the term "crack stacks" in general. Sure, it might not be the highest-income area in the Twin Cities, but it is certainly not the worst neighborhood I've seen. Bottom line, if you're worried about safety, travel with friends, avoid dark alleys and blackout drunkenness, and you'll be fine.
The Nomad World Pub, just down Cedar Ave from Red Sea, is a great little beer bar tucked away in this part of Minneapolis. In addition to a great selection of tap beers, Nomad also offers live music many nights. Check out the events calendar for a band that you know, or just stop in on a random set and order a beer you've never heard of.
A short walk down Cedar Ave from Nomad will bring you to The Triple Rock Social Club. The Triple Rock has long been a Minneapolis hangout for people who love live rock music. Depending on the show you are there to see, the mood can vary dramatically (as is to be expected). I've personally been there to enjoy some pretty chill shows, which I enjoyed a lot. I was also once there for some "hardcore" rock one time, back in the day, and I was punched in the face by a fat chick. I'd suggest checking out who's playing before you get there.
The Cedar-Riverside area is a fun one to check out. A little bit different crowd from your "traditional" college bars, a great live music scene, and a general change of scenery will benefit you greatly if you've been going out in Minneapolis for a while and you're looking to mix it up.