When I first practiced photography in 1988 I ended up using D76 with Tri-X film. My dad helped me develop my first film.
For some reason I haven't used D76 much over the years, but recently I was given a few bags of it, so I decided to try it. With Tri-X and TMax 400 it has been absolutely wonderful so far. I plan on continuing to use it, due to its broad availability, and for the lovely results. The negatives print like a dream.
I've even experimented a bit with Thornton's two-bath for dummies, where you use your normal developer, like Xtol or D76, and develop for about two thirds of your normal developing time. Then you follow with a three minute bath in a solution of two heaped tea spoons sodium metaborate in one liter of water. Really great for controlling highlights and obtaining easy to print negatives. You retain most of the original D76 quality, but you 'even out' the tonality of lower and higher contrast frames a little bit.
Anyway, film and developer choice is an important piece of the equation, but it isn't nearly as important as what you do with it...