Ute ploughs through Melbourne cafe strip

A woman was injured after a man drove his ute on the footpath of a busy cafe strip in Melbourne.

A ute driver who mounted a busy cafe strip in Melbourne "methodically" mowed down tables and sent screaming patrons running for safety, witnesses say.

The stolen Holden mounted the footpath at Rathdowne Street, Carlton North, just before noon on Saturday, ploughing through bookshop displays, smashing into a shopfront and leaving chairs scattered.

Although 100 people were in the area, it's believed no one was seriously injured because many cafe patrons were inside due to the chilly weather.

One woman was taken to St Vincent's Hospital in a stable condition, an Ambulance Victoria spokesman said.

The man behind the wheel tried to run away but was chased down by an off-duty police officer before being arrested by uniformed police.

Witness Lincoln Daw told AAP the driver mounted the footpath and did a U-turn before crashing into another shop.

The ute finally came to rest after smashing into the Paragon Cafe shopfront.

"I was sitting indoors at a cafe when people on the street and waitressing staff looked up the path and started screaming," Mr Daw said.

"All of a sudden this vehicle went past (and) methodically mowed down all the outdoor tables up and down the footpath."

He said the driver appeared purposeful but "emotionless".

"He didn't look aggressive, he just looked very methodical," Mr Daw said.

"There was no question - this guy wasn't going to stop."

Student Rachael Ward, who captured the aftermath of the destruction on her mobile phone, said locals were left "visibly shaken".

Police allege the driver, a North Melbourne man aged in his 20s, assaulted an officer as he was being arrested.

He is being questioned by police.