Minneapolis for the first time
Quang is under $15, and is my favorite of MANY Vietnamese joints around here.
In terms of Food under $15 AND bar scene, maybe hit up Anchor Fish and Chips. There will be a wait, but a very boisterous atmosphere and outstanding fish and chips, insofar as the dish can be outstanding.
The Bulldog is also a good mix of bar scene and cheap. Good burgers, hot dogs. Basically upscale bar food (that is actually bar food) and a solid beer list. They have three locations.
Where are you coming from? That might help guide us in terms of your expectations.
The Anchor Fish and Chips
302 13th Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413
Uptown will give you both, food options and bars. Bulldog is a great burger joint with a very good beer selection. The Uptown Cafeteria is another spot with decent food. Other spots are the Herkimer (food okay, brew their own beer) and Moto-i (same owners as Herkimer, brew their own sake). Food is okay at both, but better for the drinks/crowd. Chino Latino might be tough to hit your price point for dinner, and the drinks can get pricey, but usually a good crowd. Stella's Fish Cafe is another spot for drinks, maybe food. All of these are either walking distance to one another or a short cab ride.
Stella's Fish Cafe
1402 W Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55408
2916 Hennepin Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55408
For college-age crowds, I'd probably go Uptown (intersection of W. Lake Street and Hennepin Avenue). There's a couple bars around there and it's an area where many college students live. If you want the sweatshirt-wearing Greek type scene, you might try Dinkytown (East Bank of the UMN campus, 4th Street and 15th Ave SE). The Kitty Kat Club is fairly cool.