I have (and dearly love) a Catalinbread Formula #5. It's actually quite versatile, not niche at all, but you have to use the volume knob on the guitar to get the full benefit of its versatility. I use mine a lot and recommend it.
For a first OD pedal, though, I'd recommend the humble MXR Classic OD if you are near a Guitar Center. For $39, this thing is killer: http://editiondigital.net/publication/?i=75064&p=26
It's a tube screamer type, but it is cheap and sounds great. The more you play, you'll develop a more personal taste in ODs and probably add more, but I think the COD is a great place to start. I love mine and it sits on my board -and gets used- right next to pedals that cost 4X as much.