Are you raising for eggs? meat? pets? show birds?
What kind of chicken really depends on what you want from them.
I can answer a few of these, but not others.
For eggs I suggest these breeds (there are others that are good too, these are just my suggestions):
Buff Orpingtons - these girls are very easy going, docile, and quiet. They lay well, are good with people and easy to handle. They are not #1 on the breeds list by accident. There are others who lay better, but overall these are some of the easiest chickens to keep. They handle the cold really well.
Black Austrolorps - These are traditionally better layers then the Orps, and also have a very calm and easy going personality. Ive not owned them, though they are on my short list of future birds to own, I couldnt find any locally when I was starting my flock, so maybe next time around, so can only tell you what Ive read about them and others experiences. Coming in at #3 on the breed list here, you cant go wrong.
Production Reds (RIR) - I prefer the heritage Rhode Islands myself over the production reds, because they are beautiful birds with a ton of personality, however they dont lay as well as the productions, though they still lay pretty well. Production Reds are Rhode Island that have been bred with other layers (leghorn I think?) so that they are egg making machines. They start laying earlier then most breeds but burn out rather quick (2 years).
Ameraucanas/Easter Eggers - If you like colorful eggs and unique looking chickens who are still great layers and easy going, these birds are great. They are easy to breed, easy to handle and attractive birds.
For looks I really like the following breeds:
Polish - they have the poofy hat heads
Partridge Rocks - their patterned feathers are beautiful
Sicilian Buttercups - Fantastic looking birds
Lavender Orpingtons - for their color
Lots of people like Silkies, I'm not on the silkie band wagon, but I would be remiss if i didnt list them. :)
Edited by Ourfamilyflock - 5/26/12 at 8:19am