From my recent experience moving into dSLR, I think what you are looking for, really, is more a great lens, and then a body that will fit on that lens.
The Canon Rebel T2i (550d) seems great so far. It has great image quality, works well in low-light, and has wonderful 1080p video along with live view feature.
If you have a bigger budget, the 7d might be an interesting option, I see a lot of professionals using one as a back-up camera or as a personal camera. Finally, the 5d mark II if you have a much bigger budget is definitely a great option. The 5D-mkII has better fps, and many producers are starting to use them to make movies, tv shows, and video clips. The pictures also come out great.
If you're taking a lot of pictures with only available light, such as family parties, museums and such where you can't bring spot lights and such, I suggest you look into lenses with very large aperture (small f/ number).
The 50mm f/1.8 (99$, you need at least this one) or f/1.4 or f/1.2 depending on your budget is a great series of lenses for portrait photography on a cropped body.
I'll be talking about a bigger budget here (which I don't have), but for a zoom lens, the 70-200mm series is great. If you need to use it in low-light, you might want to consider the f/2.8 with IS and USM, but that's going to make a huge dent in your budget. The 100-400mm also gets some great reviews, but you need either a good amount of light or a tripod + a slow subject to use it.
For smaller budget zoom lenses, I think the 50-250mm IS would be a great option, and I wish I would've gone with that instead of my 75-300mm.
Finally, the 24mm f/1.4, 28mm f/1.8, 35mm f/1.4 or 35mm f/2.0 all seem like interesting options for a wider angle. I'm not sure which offers the best Image Quality (IQ), but from my experience I feel the 50mm is too zoomed-in when I use it on a cropped body to use it everywhere I want to.
You can definitely "zoom with your feet", until you hit a wall and can't go back more. So if you take photos in cramped spaces, restaurants, etc, a wide angle is a must so you can take photos of people sitting at your table without going out for a walk and standing in the middle of the restaurant with everyone looking at you.
You can find cheaper lenses if you sacrifice aperture, but in that case, you will have to forget about low-light photos. Except for the 99$ 50mm f/1.8, there's no excuse not to get that one, unless you have the budget for a 1.4 or 1.2