SACO — Every once in a while around southern Maine, I discover a long-standing eatery that’s so good, it makes me feel like I need to get out more. The Deli & Company in Saco is the latest such establishment.

It’s been housed for 17 years in the refurbished mill buildings that straddle the border of Saco and Biddeford, and was recently expanded. This mill complex always feels like a monstrous labyrinth to me, but I’ve enjoyed some of the other eateries here and am surprised I missed the health-conscious The Deli and Company, located up the hill from the bridge over the Saco River.

What drew me to the local deli was the gluten-free bread option – both for the creative breakfast sandwiches and the signature lunch ones.

The classic Deli & Company breakfast sandwich is healthy, ample and tasty. Photo by Deirdre Fleming

On the recommendation of a staffer, I ordered the classic Deli & Company breakfast sandwich, which comes with two organic eggs, bacon jam (a house specialty) and smoked gouda on a homemade English muffin or, in my case, a gluten-free piadina ($6.59 on a muffin, an extra $2.49 for the piadina). It was so good in every way: rich in flavor, organic, filling and somehow kind of decadent. I guess bacon jam will do that.

Any eatery that advertises the option of adding extra meat ($1.29) or egg (99 cents) gets points here. But, as served, the sandwich was loaded with egg.

The gluten-free piadina is made with almond flour, but is nothing like the gluten-free bread you buy in the supermarket. It resembled more of a sinful, tasty pancake. Everyone who eats here should try one.

This summer, when I’m sure to visit the nearby beaches, I’ll have to try one of the unique sandwiches, like the Nutty Roman, which features house-made pesto chicken, fresh mozzarella, red wine-braised onion, tomatoes, Romaine lettuce and a touch of Caesar dressing ($10.29), or the The Mainah, with pan-seared chicken breast, applewood-smoked bacon, Cabot cheddar cheese, fresh Romaine and the signature maple aioli ($10.19).

The eatery also offers a dozen hot sandwiches, such as the Triple Cheese Panini, which this cheese hound will try, loaded with Cabot cheddar, smoked gouda and havarti and typically made on sourdough bread ($7.99). The Deli & Company has a number of meat options as well, like the Saucy Texan (house roast beef, Cabot cheddar cheese, housemade barbecue ranch and red wine-braised onions on Italian bread for $10.39).

The inside is clean, warm and chic with those industrial brick walls. During the 20 minutes I enjoyed my breakfast, a dozen patrons came and went, getting take-out orders, many sounding like regulars. It’s obvious the staff knows its patrons. They checked to make sure I was happy and satisfied. As I said on my way out the door, I’ll be back.

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