Selah Tea Cafe on Waterville’s Main Street is a great gathering place where customers are encouraged to linger and enjoy wonderfully creative and healthy food — plus awesome pastries baked by Grammy. And they also offer a great takeout service.

George

Turns out, that at a cafe featuring vegetarian/vegan meals you can also get bacon. So of course, I ordered an avocado turkey wrap with bacon, provolone, lettuce, tomato and a very tasty avocado aioli made at the cafe. This delicious combination came in a great sun-dried tomato basil wrap — with perfectly crispy bacon. The orzo pasta that accompanied the wrap had a very tasty sauce and lots of fresh vegetables.

Fresh and healthy food is a focus of this cafe, and it’s good to know that also mean delicious. Owners Bobby and Rachel McGee work hard to offer all-natural meats, lots of fresh vegetable dishes and plenty of gluten-free and vegan offerings. But it’s really their personal approach and determination to provide good quality at reasonable prices that sets this place apart.

Our daughter, Rebekah, a longtime health-conscious eater, recommended the Selah Tea Cafe and raved about their salads. But it wasn’t until we visited with Bobby McGee that we appreciated his commitment to healthy dining. After 12 years of selling medical supplies and equipment, this Florida native (who married a girl from Oakland) is a personable host. I told him he needed to get out of the kitchen and talk to the guests — because he has some great stories to share.

And he and Rachel have created a great space. When we arrived, several people were in a meeting in a corner with couches and chairs. Three people were at tables working on their computers.

The cafe is informal. You seat yourself, grab a menu and give your order at the counter. Your food is brought to your table. Several staff members served us during our visit and all were very friendly. Dina Allen had just gotten married the day before, and seemed to be delighted to be celebrating her honeymoon while working at the cafe. We even got a chance to visit with her husband, who was having lunch.

Cold drinks and teas are selected from a fridge, and I decided to be brave and try something new: orange and pineapple tea. It was delicious. Liz, at the counter, said she’d brewed all the cold teas that morning — on her third day at the cafe. She must be a quick learner!

The McGees are cleverly offering a variety of ways to enjoy their food, including a bustling takeout business. You can call in your order or do it online at their website, specifying your pick-up time. And for those who can’t plan ahead, they assemble a bargain $5 Grab-and-Go lunch basket that includes a sandwich, small salad, cookie and drink.

An Oakland grandmother, Kay Wrigley, makes the pastries and I was compelled to head in that direction after closely examining them in a display that made my mouth water. My coconut gluten-free macaroon was crispy on the outside, soft on the inside and dreamily delicious. Grammy rocks!

Selah (pronounced see-luh) means “pause and calmly think about that.” Selah Tea Cafe is the perfect place to do that, and to enjoy a wonderful breakfast, lunch or dinner. We plan to return soon to try their breakfast. The breakfast burrito is calling my name!

Linda

We’ve been looking for some great lunch places lately as we travel. What qualifies as a great lunch place for me would be a light, airy space, large enough to allow conversation and food that is fresh and delicious. We found all these things in Waterville at Selah Tea Cafe. But it was so much more than a run-in-and-grab-lunch place.

This is a place where you are encouraged to linger as long as you’d like. It’s a perfect place to meet others. We sat at a table along the wall that had a bench with comfy pillows. Two women across the room had the best idea of all; they’d brought a travel edition of Scrabble.

The calming green color on the walls, along with the extremely high ceilings and fans creating a pleasant breeze just make you smile. Piped-in music is in the background. Michael Buble was playing that day, one of my favorites.

One unusual feature of this restaurant is the focus on a wide variety of teas, with a thorough explanation of the process of steeping your tea (including a picture of the step by step process on the menu). With one look at the wall holding the different loose leaf teas in canisters, you will understand just how many choices you have! They take much care to offer a wide variety of nonalcoholic beverages. Choose from the tea bar, coffee bar, espresso bar, iced drinks and other beverages.

We chose our drinks from the refrigerated case housing large iced teas brewed that morning. Each variety had a label explaining the type and flavor. Ask any of the staff and they will offer guidance — you might need it because there are so many choices.

The McGees wanted to feature food without preservatives or nitrates. Bobby does a lot of research to add creative food to his menu, offering several vegan options as well as many with lean white meat chicken. And he stressed that since opening the cafe in May 2011, he has worked to establish a reputation for quality and reasonable prices. The highest priced menu item was $8.99.

I ordered the small curry chicken salad ($6.99). It was plated with spring greens as a base and topped with apple slices, raisins and walnuts. The chicken salad itself was fantastic, and the raspberry vinaigrette was a great combination. A small plate was perfect for me.

The snickerdoodle cookie (a sugar cookie with cinnamon topping) I ordered practically covered the plate. It was crunchy and would be a perfect match for hot tea. But if I’d done that, I know I would have stayed a lot longer. It’s that type of place.

Visit George’s website — georgesmithmaine.com — for book reviews, outdoor news and all Travelin’ Maine(rs) columns, found listed in the “Best of Maine” section.