As fine dining in metro Phoenix becomes increasingly dominated by corporate resorts and super-charged restaurant groups, it's exciting to witness a young, talented chef strike out on his own. That's precisely what TJ Culp did this past year with Restaurant Progress, a 37-seat upscale neighborhood restaurant that opened in the Melrose District early in 2017. Culp is a young veteran chef who cut his teeth as a corporate opener for Fox Restaurant Concepts, and went on to launch the popular Pop-Up PHX dinner series. At Restaurant Progress, the chef-owner is the brains behind an increasingly rare local specimen: a strong, independent neighborhood restaurant that stays open past 10 p.m. and offers a refined American menu that changes regularly and shifts with the seasons. Restaurant Progress showcases the chef's talent for playing with disparate flavors and textures, and proves that culinary savvy and hard work can still amount to great things in this town.